Advertisement

Scrapyard beckons SS United States but surely the great ocean liner is worth saving

At almost 1,000ft the SS United States is 10ft longer than the Titanic Credit: SS United States Conservancy

Merely to look at her graceful lines is to be carried back to another era. A time of American glamour, of endless opportunities, and of engineering prowess.

In a word, she is magnificent.

The SS United States was a post-war symbol of American pre-eminence.

But today the great cruise liner is perhaps just two weeks from death. The scrapyard beckons.

And for anyone passionate - in fact, even remotely curious - about maritime history and about the great Transatlantic ocean route that connects America and Britain, that outcome would be a tragedy.

More than that, it would be industrial sabotage.

SS United States on her sea trials, June 10, 1952 Credit: Charles Anderson and the SS United States Conservancy
Launched in 1952, the SS United States was considered a technological marvel at the time Credit: SS United States Conservancy

The great ship - made entirely in dry dock with large amounts of aluminium to make her lighter - made her maiden voyage in July 1952. She was the quickest passenger vessel of her time.

In her speed trials she exceeded 38 knots. In fact, she still holds the record for the fastest Western journey across the Atlantic, even though she was retired from service in 1969.

Joe Rota worked as a bell boy on board the SS United States between 1955 and 1959:

Presidents, movie stars, artists, and the tycoons of the 1950s and 60s travelled on the ocean liner. And yet she now lies forlornly at a pier in Philadelphia, her paint peeling, her ballroom empty, the interior gutted, the swimming pool empty.

The SS United States is still structurally sound, and she captures the optimism of America in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Surely, the great ocean liner is worth saving. It would require a few hundred million dollars to get her ship-shape. About the cost of a single F-22 fighter plane.

If you want to know more, you can visit www.SavetheUnitedStates.Org