Cunard and Princess have appointed two veteran mariners to their fleets' most prestigious position -- that of the commodore. The Commodore of a fleet is the company's most senior captain and represents all the other captains in the fleet.
Most other cruise lines these days don't have Commodores (one exception is Cunard's and Princess' sister company, P&O Cruises, who recently appointed Stephen Burgoine as Commodore). At other cruise lines, the senior-most captain is usually promoted to a shoreside tradition.
Cunard's new Commodore is Bernard Warner, master of Queen Mary 2. Warner originally joined P&O in 1965, later moving to Princess Cruises after that company was acquired by P&O. His first command was the original Island Princess in 1994; he then was appointed master of Queen Mary 2 in 2005 after Cunard became part of P&O Princess.
Commodore Warner originally wanted to join Cunard at the beginning of his career, but at the time, Cunard would only accept officers who already had their Master's Licenses. As this would require working for another line first for several years, Warner joined P&O instead and spent the first 40 years of his career at P&O and Princess before moving to now-related Cunard.
Warner replaces Commodore Ronald Warwick, who retired in 2007. Commodore Warwick, the first master of QM2 and one of the most beloved captains of the modern era, is the son of the late Commodore William Warwick, Queen Elizabeth 2's first master. As such, the two Commodores became the first father-and-son Commodores since Cunard's founding in 1840.
The position of Commodore of Cunard was once so prestigious that Commodores were customarily knighted. Commodore Sir Arthur Rostron was famed as the master of the Cunarder Carpathia when it rescued survivors from the Titanic; a few years earlier, Commodore William Turner had been in command of Lusitania when it was torpedoed in World War I. Commodore Harry Grattidge retired in the 1950's after commanding the legendary Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. He then wrote his memoirs, "Captain of the Queens," which include meeting royalty, heads of state and celebrities in the days when anyone who was anyone on either side of the Atlantic sailed on the Queens. (Perhaps their most famous regular passengers were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.)
Meanwhile, Michael Fatchen has been appointed Commodore of the Princess Cruises fleet, replacing the recently retired Commodore Cesare Ditel. Like Commodore Warner, Commodore Fatchen has spent his entire career within the P&O family of companies. First appointed master of the original Sea Princess in 1993, he has since commanded many of the vessels in the P&O Cruises and Princess fleets, and is currently master of the globetrotting Pacific Princess. In April, Commodore Fatchen will take command of the "new" Royal Princess (currently Swan Hellenic's Minerva II), which along with sister Pacific Princess, will operate the most wide-ranging, exotic itineraries offered by Princess.
--by Douglas Newman, a maritime writer in New York specializing in passenger ships and ferries.
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Cunard and Princess Appoint New Commodores
January 12, 2007