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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Fundraising Cruise Raises $100,000 to Help Save SS United States

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 8, 2018

(File photo courtesy of the SS United States Conservancy)

(File photo courtesy of the SS United States Conservancy)

A fundraising cruise dedicated to saving America’s Flagship has raised $100,000 for the cause.

Once America’s fastest and most glamorous ocean liner, the SS United States has spent years away from her former glory in an escalating state of disrepair, at dock in Philadelphia, out of commission and relying on donations to stay afloat and out of the scrapyard.

This week a group dedicated to preserving the historic vessel has received a financial lifeline that will help to keep the SS United States intact while a plan to save the ship is developed.

Cruise industry executive and philanthropist Jim Pollin, owner of the Pollin Group, presented a $100,000 check to Susan Gibbs, executive director of the SS United States Conservancy, who said the funds will be used to cover monthly carrying costs for the vessel as the Conservancy works to advance plans to revitalize the historic ship as a stationary mixed-use destination and museum.

The check was presented during the SS United States Legacy Cruise aboard the Celebrity Summit, currently en route to Bermuda as part of a weeklong cruise featuring seminars and special events celebrating the SS United States.

“The SS United States Legacy Cruise’s goal is to raise awareness of the ship’s historic importance and raise critical resources to save the vessel,” Gibbs explained. “Conservancy supporters from 20 states and Canada, together with the world’s leading experts on the SS United States and the bygone era of ocean liner travel, have gathered to energize and inform the effort to save America’s Flagship.”

The program for the cruise, organized by the Pollin Group — who specialize in shipboard meetings and “seminars at sea” — includes special lectures by author-illustrator David Macaulay, whose forthcoming book focuses on the SS United States, as well as presentations by representatives from Gibbs and Cox, the original designers of the ship, and by filmmaker Mark B. Perry, producer of the American Public Television documentary, “SS United States: Lady in Waiting.”

“The Pollin Group wanted to help bring people together who are committed to keeping America’s Flagship afloat,” said Pollin, who last summer made a $150,000 donation to the Conservancy. “We decided to organize the first annual SS United States Legacy Cruise and donate all of the cruise commissions back to the Conservancy. The interest in this journey, which retraces the SS United States’ historic route to Bermuda, has been overwhelming. We’ve shattered our fundraising goal and have raised $100,000 from commissions and donations.” 

“We are so grateful to Jim for his steadfast support for the SS United States and the Conservancy’s mission,” Gibbs said. “His passion, creativity and generosity are truly energizing as we work day in and day out to ensure this great symbol of our nation is saved for future generations.”

Launched in 1952, the SS United States was regarded as an American symbol of elegance and technological prowess, capturing the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage (a record still held to this day), and transporting more than one million passengers over her lifetime, including four U.S. presidents, international royalty and countless Hollywood celebrities.

The ship was retired from service in 1969 and has spent years at dock in an escalating state of disrepair, having last sailed under her own power more than 40 years ago.

Over the years there have been several commercial attempts to restore or repurpose the ship, including the most recent in February 2016, when Crystal Cruises reached a deal with the Conservancy to potentially restore the ship to liner service. The plans stalled after an intensive $1 million vessel evaluation uncovered insurmountable technical and commercial challenges.

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