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When the S.S. UNITED STATES was christened in June of 1951 the 990 foot, 53,000 ton liner would be a symbol of American shipbuilding might. Designed by William Francis Gibbs she was built to the highest standards of the day. Gibbs was so obsessed with the ship being completely fire proof that he even asked Steinway to build an aluminum piano, Steinway said no. It was said that the only wood onboard was in the pianos and in the butcher blocks used in the kitchen. The S.S. UNITED STATES would start her triumphant maiden voyage from New York to Southampton on July 3, 1952, crossing the Atlantic in just 3 days, 10 hours, and 40 minutes. She would break all speed records and take the Blue Riband from the Cunard Liner QUEEN MARY.

During her 17 years of service the S.S. UNITED STATES would play host to England's Duke and Duchess of York and to many Hollywood celebrities, Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne, Bob Hope, and Carry Grant to name a few. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy woud sail aboard America's Flag Ship. In November 1969 the S.S. UNITED STATES would leave her New York pier for an annual dry docking at her birthplace, Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, she would never sail again.

Mothballed and cared for by the Navy the S.S. UNITED STATES would finally be sold to Richard Hadley a Seattle real estate developer in 1979. Hadley hoped of returning the once proud trans-Atlantic liner to service as a floating time-share condominium cruising the Hawaiian Islands and around the world. This and many other plans to return her to service would come and go. To raise money to pay some of her mounting debts her fittings and furnishings where stripped in 1984 and sold at an auction that took 7 days. She would be towed to Turkey in 1992 to have her interiors further gutted with the asbestos removel, leaving her a virtual shell; her lifeboats and davits would also be removed during this time. It was rumered that the ship would be rebuilt and join the fleet of former trans-Atlantic liners operated by Regency Cruises with the name REGENT STATES, again the venture failed. The S.S. UNITED STATES would return to American waters in 1996 only to be tied to a Philadelphia dock left again to sit waiting.

On April 1, 2003 in news that stunned the maritime world, Miami based Norwegian Cruise Lines announced that they had purchased the ship for possible cruise service. Only time will tell if this great ship will ever sail again.

In a press statement given by NCL on March 4, 2004 says impart.

"Recently, NCL sent a team to Philadelphia to conduct an extensive technical review of the venerable ship. We would like to report that she is in good shape and we are taking very good care of her. We have cataloged over a hundred boxes of blueprints that we received from the previous owners. Although not a complete set, the drawings will be a real help to our technical team with their work."

When we announced the purchase of the S/S United States in April last year, we talked about her potential to become a start-of-the-art modern cruise ship in our U.S. Flagged fleet. Only with the success of these U.S. flagged ships in Hawaii and our new U.S. flag operation will we be able to succeed with the more complex challenge of bringing back the S/S United States.

The S/S United States has a great maritime heritage, and we believe that she has a great maritime future as well. We urge you to join with us in supporting the return of U.S. flag passenger/cruise ship to the oceans of the world.

The love for the S/S United States is real. To you, she has always been more than a steel hull."

Susan Robinson
Director, Public Relations
Norwegian Cruise Line

Designer - TIME Magazine September 28, 1942

Advertising from January 1960.


"Gala Dinner" Menu from Saturday, August 1, 1953.
James R. Ducker collection

On February 28, 2004 Commodore Leroy Alexanderson last Captain of the S.S. UNITED STATES died at the age of 93. In 1955 he would serve as Captain of the S.S. AMERICA. In 1964, he became Captain of the S.S. UNITED STATES. In 1966 he was appointed Commodore of the United States Lines Fleet. He would serve as the Master of the S.S. United States until her retirement in November 1969.

S.S. UNITED STATES in New York. Post Card Dated 1956.
James R. Ducker collection


MIAMI, March 8, 2006 Honoring the fastest ocean liner ever built, NCL America is proud to announce today that the library onboard its newest ship, Pride of Hawai`i will be named the SS UNITED STATES Library. This library will not only be a peaceful, relaxing sanctuary for passengers, it will also pay tribute to the history of this great American beauty, thanks to special assistance from the SS UNITED STATES Conservancy.

"As one of the country's most venerable ships from the glory days of trans-Atlantic sea travel, the SS UNITED STATES was revolutionary, faster and more technologically advanced than anything else afloat at the time," said Colin Veitch, president and CEO of NCL Corporation. "As the proud owners of the SS UNITED STATES, NCL America is privileged to dedicate a library to this American icon on board our newest and now largest U.S-flagged ship, Pride of Hawai`i."

The SS UNITED STATES Library will feature original photography, vintage advertisements and original lithographs from renowned marine artists, as well as wall-hanging annotations from Conservancy experts to help educate passengers about the vessel's great significance and her place in maritime history.

"The SS UNITED STATES embodied in one single creation the best of American marine engineering, advanced technology, and artistic style; she was our nation's most visible and best known national symbol in the 1950's and beyond," said Greg Norris, vice president and board member of the SS UNITED STATES Conservancy. "I sailed in the SS UNITED STATES eight times during my youth and have always been in awe of her incredible presence and grandeur."

"It's truly a pleasure to share my knowledge and experience with NCL America, and I hope the Conservancy and NCL can continue to breathe new life into this American icon," Norris added.

NCL America welcomes the new Pride of Hawai`i to its U.S. Flagged fleet in April 2006. She's the largest US flagged passenger ship ever built, and joins Pride of Aloha and Pride of America offering seven-day, inter-island cruises visiting the beautiful 50th state's four main islands. Pride of Hawai`i, departing Honolulu on Mondays, features the line's extremely popular itinerary with a full day in Hilo, Hawai`i; two days in Kahului, Maui; a day in Kona, Hawai`i and two days in N'wiliwili, Kaua`i.

Purpose built for NCL's signature Freestyle Cruising, Pride of Hawai`i features a vast array of accommodations including two luxurious Garden Villas with their own private gardens and sun decks, 10 Courtyard Villas sharing a private courtyard, pool and sundeck on deck 14, and a spectacular top-of-the-ship Owner's Suite. The ship also features multiple lively public rooms, 10 restaurants and impressive onboard amenities.

NCL Corporation ("NCL") is an innovative cruise company headquartered in Miami, Florida, with a fleet of 15 ships in service and under construction. The corporation oversees the operations of Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL America, and Orient Lines. In addition to Pride of Hawai'i, the company is currently building two more ships, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Gem for delivery in 2007.

For further information, please contact NCL in the U.S. and Canada at (800) 327-7030; visit NCL's website at www.ncl.com or on AOL at keyword: NCL; or to download high-resolution photography, visit www.ncl.com/hires.

The SS UNITED STATES Conservancy is dedicated to preserving the legacy of our national flagship, the SS UNITED STATES. The Conservancy is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1992 and has thousands of members and supporters nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ssunitedstatesconservancy.org.

July 5, 2010 PRESS RELEASE:

Conservancy releases more details of SS United States rescue plan The SS United States Conservancy has announced more details of its plan to buy the SS United States from its current owner. Here's the statement:

In a major development in the effort to save the legendary American ocean liner SS United States from destruction, the SS United States Conservancy announces a donation by Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest of up to $5.8 million. The funds will be used to purchase the vessel from its current owner, Norwegian Cruise Line/Genting Hong Kong (Norwegian/Genting), and maintain the ship in its current berth for up to 20 months, while redevelopment and refurbishment plans are solidified.

The Lenfest donation has enabled the Conservancy to enter into an exclusive purchase option agreement with Norwegian/Genting. Funds will be allocated at a future date to complete a title transfer of the vessel to the Conservancy once necessary authorizations have been obtained.

"We are thrilled that the SS United States has received a new lease on life. This is a game-changer in our work to save this irreplaceable American icon," said Conservancy Board President Susan Gibbs, granddaughter of the vessel's designer, William Francis Gibbs. "Mr. Lenfest's vision and generosity give us a fighting chance to preserve the SS United States for generations to come. We also want to recognize the support of Norwegian/Genting. They first listed the ship for sale in early 2009 and turned down higher offers to partner with us in this patriotic effort."

The SS United States has had a variety of owners since being removed from service in 1969. Still the holder of the "Blue Riband" (transatlantic speed record), set 58 years ago on her maiden voyage from New York to England, she is widely considered the greatest ocean liner ever built. She was also a secret weapon during the Cold War, able to be converted to a troop ship capable of carrying an army division 10,000 miles without refueling or replenishment. The ship became an icon of her era, transporting four American presidents and other heads of state, military and business leaders, and countless celebrities. She also brought many immigrants to America. The ship was purchased in 2003 with plans to be returned to ocean-going service. Bids from scrappers were accepted in February 2010.

"Having established a relationship with the Conservancy in 2009, Gerry Lenfest literally swept in at the 11th hour to save this national treasure," said Dan McSweeney, executive director of the organization, whose father emigrated from Scotland to work as a crew member aboard the ship. "Like thousands of supporters across the country and world, Mr. Lenfest understands this ship is a symbol of American preeminence in the 20th century. She can also become a part of America's future promise, potentially creating thousands of jobs during and after refurbishment and once again becoming a symbol of American determination and ability."

The Conservancy's exclusive purchase option with Norwegian/Genting will expire in February 2011. Once the title transfer occurs, the Lenfest donation provides the Conservancy with 20 months in which to begin the process of development. The Conservancy plans to establish a public-private partnership to own and operate the ship as a multi-purpose stationary attraction.

"We are reaching out to potential partners in Philadelphia, New York, and beyond as we begin laying the groundwork for the SS United States' next chapter," said Gibbs. "The ship offers some 550,000 square feet of space to develop, and her interiors can be configured in a variety of ways. We are putting together plans for a self-sustaining mixed-use complex with restaurant, retail, entertainment, and museum offerings. She has the potential to be a dazzling and dynamic waterfront attraction. The SS United States was an American original and we'll pay tribute to the ship's extraordinary history as we redevelop her for a new era."

In conjunction with entering into the exclusive sales option, the Conservancy will develop enhanced capabilities and resources, including new office space in Philadelphia and New York, an expanded board of directors and new "Blue Riband Council" of influential Americans, as well as an Advisory Council of maritime experts and individuals with close ties to the SS United States. The Conservancy has also received very robust pro bono services from two top-tier law firms. Vedder Price is providing legal counsel in corporate structures and acquisition and development of the vessel. Sidley Austin is representing the Conservancy with respect to environmental issues. The Conservancy will significantly expand its fundraising efforts and develop new marketing and outreach material and an enhanced internet presence.

Aerial view of the S.S. UNITED STATES docked in Philadelphia, PA.
Courtesy: Mapquset.

S.S. UNITED STATES departing Southampton.

S.S.United States Conservancy Page

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