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Wed Jul 3, 2019, 05:02 AM

67 Years Ago Today; SS United States sets off on record-breaking maiden voyage

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_United_States



SS United States is a retired ocean liner built in 1950–51 for the United States Lines at a cost of US$79.4 million. The ship is the largest ocean liner constructed entirely in the United States and the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic in either direction, retaining the Blue Riband for the highest average speed since her maiden voyage in 1952. She was designed by American naval architect William Francis Gibbs and could be converted into a troopship if required by the Navy in time of war. The United States maintained an uninterrupted schedule of transatlantic passenger service until 1969 and was never used as a troopship.

The ship has been sold several times since the 1970s, with each new owner trying unsuccessfully to make the liner profitable. Eventually, the ship's fittings were sold at auction, and hazardous wastes, including asbestos panels throughout the ship, were removed, leaving her almost completely stripped by 1994. Two years later, she was towed to Pier 82 on the Delaware River, in Philadelphia, where she remains today.

Since 2009, a preservation group called the SS United States Conservancy has been raising funds to save the ship. The group purchased her in 2011 and has drawn up several unrealized plans to restore the ship, one of which included turning the ship into a multi-purpose waterfront complex. In 2015, as its funds dwindled, the group began accepting bids to scrap the ship; however, sufficient donations came in via extended fundraising. Large donations have kept the ship berthed at its Philadelphia dock while the group continues to further investigate restoration plans.

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1952–1996


Liner United States photographed from Portsmouth on return maiden voyage to New York, summer 1952.

On her maiden voyage—July 3–7, 1952—United States broke the transatlantic speed record held by the RMS Queen Mary for the previous 14 years by more than 10 hours, making the maiden crossing from the Ambrose lightship at New York Harbor to Bishop Rock off Cornwall, UK in 3 days, 10 hours, 40 minutes at an average speed of 35.59 knots (65.91 km/h; 40.96 mph). The maximum speed attained for United States is disputed as it was once held as a military secret. The issue stems from an alleged value of 43 knots (80 km/h; 49 mph) that was leaked to reporters by engineers after the first speed trial. In a 1991 issue of Popular Mechanics, author Mark G. Carbonaro wrote that while she could do 43 knots (80 km/h; 49 mph) it was never attained. Other sources, including a paper by John J. McMullen & Associates, places the ship's highest possible sustained top speed at 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph).

By the mid-to-late 1960s, the market for transatlantic travel by ship had dwindled—America was sold in 1964, Queen Mary was retired in 1967, and Queen Elizabeth in 1968—and United States was no longer profitable. While United States was at Newport News for an annual overhaul in 1969, United States Lines decided to withdraw her from service, leaving the ship docked at the port. After a few years, the ship was relocated to Norfolk, Virginia. Subsequently, ownership passed between several companies.

In 1977, a group headed by Harry Katz sought to purchase the ship and dock it in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where it would be used as a hotel and casino. However, nothing came of the plan. The vessel was sold in the following year for $5 million to a group headed by Seattle developer Richard H. Hadley, who hoped to revitalize the liner in a time share cruise ship format. In 1979, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) was reportedly interested in purchasing the ship and converting her into a cruise ship for cruises in the Caribbean, but decided on purchasing the former SS France instead. During the 1980s, United States was considered by the US Navy to be converted into a troopship or a hospital ship, to be called USS United States. This plan never materialized, being dropped in favor of converting two San Clemente class supertankers.

In 1984, to pay creditors, the ship's remaining fittings and furniture were sold at auction in Norfolk. Some of the furniture was installed in Windmill Point, a restaurant in Nags Head, North Carolina. Richard Hadley's plan of a time-share style cruise ship eventually failed financially, and the ship, which had been seized by U.S. marshals, was put up for auction by MARAD in 1992. At auction, Marmara Marine Inc.—which was headed by Edward Cantor and Fred Mayer, but with Juliedi Sadikoglu, of the Turkish shipping family, as majority owner—purchased the ship for $2.6 million. The ship was towed to Turkey and then Ukraine, where, in Sevastopol Shipyard, she underwent asbestos removal which lasted from 1993 to 1994. The interior of the ship was almost completely stripped during this time. In the US, no plans could be finalized for repurposing the vessel, and in 1996, the United States was towed to South Philadelphia.




SS United States in 2012.

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FYI; The SS United States Conservancy needs donations for her pier and mooring fees. http://www.ssusc.org/

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