S.S. United States Historic Ship may get a Second Lease on Life

by Eric Haun
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
“We are ready to save history, full speed ahead” said Susan Gibbs (left). Gibbs and Edie Rodriguez, President and CEO of Crystal Cruises, announced plans to save the SS United States at a press conference in New York. (Photo: Eric Haun)

Crystal Cruises has come to the rescue of the historic luxury liner SS United States, announcing plans for an exclusive purchase option agreement to begin work on returning America’s flagship to seagoing service, pending a technical feasibility study.

 

Launched in 1952 as the fastest, largest and safest passenger liner in the world, “Big U” was regarded as an American symbol of elegance and technological prowess, capturing the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage and transporting more than one million passengers over her lifetime, including four U.S. presidents, international royalty and countless Hollywood celebrities.

Still the largest passenger ship ever built in America (and still the fastest cruise liner to cross the Atlantic), the ship is the brainchild of renowned naval architect William Francis Gibbs, who designed the SS United States as part of the U.S. government’s secret Cold War era program that called for a high-tech passenger liner that could to double as a naval troopship in the event of war. As designed it could carry, if needed, 15,000 troops rapidly around the globe courtesy of a 240,000 shaft horsepower propulsion plant capable of traveling nearly halfway around the world without refueling.

Despite her celebrated innovation and grandeur, the ship has spent years mothballed at dock in Philadelphia in an escalating state of disrepair, last sailing under her own power more than 40 years ago.
The SS United States has seen a number of developers attempt to answer her SOS call since retiring from service in 1969. Now Crystal Cruises, together with the SS United States Conservancy (the group that presently owns the vessel and has led the efforts for her preservation) will work toward restoring the Big U’s former glory, aiming to bring the ship into compliance for a return to oceangoing service.
The plan was announced at a press conference at New York’s Manhattan Cruise Terminal on February 4, 2016, where Crystal  Cruises said it will also take over the ship’s maintenance bills while undertaking a nine-month technical feasibility study expected to wrap up by the end of 2016. The Conservancy will continue to own the vessel throughout the study. To facilitate the technical feasibility study, Crystal appointed retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tim Sullivan to build and lead a team of technical, legal and regulatory experts.

Before it returns to sea, the SS United States will require an extensive rebuild to meet modern demands and be in full regulatory compliance. The total price tag for the restoration is estimated at $700 million, according to Crystal president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez, who said she believes the SS United States could be ready to sail again as soon as 2018. A shipyard to perform the restoration work has yet to be identified as plans are in the early stages.

Crystal intends to transform the ship into a modern 800-guest vessel, featuring 400 suites with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities true to the ship’s history. Many features of the original design will be retained, while new engines and modern marine technology will be installed. “[Revitalizing the SS United States] will be a very challenging undertaking, but we are determined to apply the dedication and innovation that has always been the ship’s hallmark,” Rodriguez said.

When asked what the project’s largest challenges might be, Rodriguez said, “First and foremost, EPA issues. Environmental issues are paramount, so from my perspective that is just about the only thing that would break the deal.”

But as has been the case for the many obstacles this ship has faced, determination can go a long way, as evidenced by executive director of the conservancy and granddaughter of the vessel’s designer, Susan Gibbs, who has spent years working to preserve this piece of U.S. history.

“Crystal’s ambitious vision for the SS United States will ensure our nation’s flagship is once again a global ambassador for the highest standards of American innovation, quality and design,” Gibbs said. “We are thrilled that the SS United States is now poised to make a triumphant return to sea and that the ship’s historical legacy will continue to intrigue and inspire a new generation.”
“We are ready to save history,” Gibbs said, “full speed ahead.”

 

(As published in the February 2016 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News - http://magazines.marinelink.com/Magazines/MaritimeReporter)

  • SS United States sits out of commission in Philadelphia. (Photo: SS United States Conservancy)

    SS United States sits out of commission in Philadelphia. (Photo: SS United States Conservancy)

  • Rendering of the restored SS United States by Crystal Cruises. (Image: Crystal Cruises)

    Rendering of the restored SS United States by Crystal Cruises. (Image: Crystal Cruises)

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter May 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Danish Maritime Days Themes Announced

Four themes at this year’s Danish Maritime Days will highlight some of the most important challenges and opportunities which the global maritime industry is facing, organizers said.

CMA CGM Proceeds with NOL Takeover after China Okay

CMA CGM, the world's third-largest container shipping firm, is to go ahead with its planned acquisition of Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) after receiving regulatory clearance from China,

Singapore Exchange in Talks to buy Baltic Exchange

Baltic Exchange privately owned by 380 shareholders. The Singapore Exchange (SGX) is in exclusive talks to buy London's Baltic Exchange, which has been at the

Contracts

Naviera Nabia Orders Newbuild from Gondan

Gondan Shipyard signed a new contract for the construction of a new vessel for Naviera Nabia, part of Acuña Group, from Bueu (Pontevedra-Spain). This new catamaran

CMA CGM Proceeds with NOL Takeover after China Okay

CMA CGM, the world's third-largest container shipping firm, is to go ahead with its planned acquisition of Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) after receiving regulatory clearance from China,

Technip Bags Statoil's Umbilical Supply Contract

Technip’s wholly-owned subsidiary Technip Umbilicals Ltd.(1) has been awarded a contract by Statoil ASA to supply the umbilical(2) to the Oseberg Vestflanken 2 field offshore Norway.

Marine Propulsion

ABB Saves 700,000 tons Fuel for Marine Vessels

ABB’s environmental friendly Azipod propulsion system brings greater fuel efficiency to diverse shipping segments ABB today announced the total fuel savings

First Cruise Company Fined under Australia’s New Fuel Rules

Australia’s NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Carnival PLC $15,000 after one of its P&O Cruises ships, the Pacific Jewel, breached new low sulfur fuel regulations in Sydney Harbour.

New Low-emission Hybrid Azistern Tug Design

Offshore Ship Designers (OSD) has designed a powerful, low-emission compact e-tug to further augment its Azistern series of vessels. Among other roles, the vessel

Ship Repair & Conversion

Davie Begins First Resolve-Class AOR Conversion

Davie Shipbuilding has cut first steel for the Resolve Class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessel.   The project consists of converting a containership into an

Danelec Bags Multiple VDR Orders in Middle East

Danelec Marine, along with distribution partner Elcome International, is to supply Danelec DM100 Voyage Data Recorders (VDRs) for 14 ships in the Middle East.   The

Grounded Bulker Repaired, Heads for Japan

The Captain of the Port for Oregon and southern Washington canceled the captain of the port order on the motor vessel Sparna allowing the vessel to leave its mooring at Kalama, Wash.

Passenger Vessels

Naviera Nabia Orders Newbuild from Gondan

Gondan Shipyard signed a new contract for the construction of a new vessel for Naviera Nabia, part of Acuña Group, from Bueu (Pontevedra-Spain). This new catamaran

Winners of Ferry Design Contest Selected

Winners of International Student Design Competition for a Safe Affordable Ferry to be revealed at the Ferry Safety and Technology Conference   Dr. Roberta Weisbrod,

FAL Engages Inland Marine Service for Marine Operations

French America Line, the newest U.S. cruise line that begins sailing five- to 10-day cruise itineraries aboard its intimate 75-stateroom flagship Louisiane in August,

News

Guinean Sailors Arrested after Clash with Sierra Leone Navy

Sierra Leone was holding 11 Guineans including military personnel in custody on Wednesday following a confrontation at sea involving the two West African neighbours' navies,

Fleet Week Underway in New York

Parade of ships signals start of Fleet Week New York 2016   Now in its 28th year, New York Fleet Week has commenced, with ships from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast

Davie Begins First Resolve-Class AOR Conversion

Davie Shipbuilding has cut first steel for the Resolve Class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessel.   The project consists of converting a containership into an

History

Mount Whitney Makes History

USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship, made history today as the first amphibious command ship to have an MV-22B Osprey land on its flight deck, May 23, 2016.

Returning to the Scene of the Shipwrecks

A participant in a diving field school last fall, graduate student Tori Kiefer is back to help a new set of students learn the joy of surveying shipwrecks.   Last fall,

This Day In Naval History - May 24

1917 - The first U.S. convoy left Hampton Roads, Va. to cross the North Atlantic after entering World War I. During the 18 months of war while American vessels escort convoys through the war zone,

Government Update

Overcrowded Migrant Boat Flips, Five Dead

A large wooden fishing boat overcrowded with migrants capsized off the coast of Libya, the Italian navy said on Wednesday, with some 562 people rescued and five found dead.

CMA CGM Proceeds with NOL Takeover after China Okay

CMA CGM, the world's third-largest container shipping firm, is to go ahead with its planned acquisition of Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) after receiving regulatory clearance from China,

Mount Whitney Makes History

USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship, made history today as the first amphibious command ship to have an MV-22B Osprey land on its flight deck, May 23, 2016.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Offshore Oil Pipelines Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.3324 sec (3 req/sec)