Plan to Restore United States, into Luxury Cruise Ship


SS United States, the trans Atlantic liner that most epitomises American post-war marine innovation and design is today, a sad shell of a ship. Looking at her in her current state of dereliction, it is difficult to recall her former glory.  She lies forlorn, under constant threat of destruction, cared for and unloved by no one save for the efforts of the SS United States Conservancy’s Board, a bunch of enthusiastic ship loving volunteers.

The 60,000 gross ton liner was launched in 1952 and on her maiden voyage captured the Blue Riband, the transatlantic speed record. It is a record that still stands to this day no matter what the Aga Khan or Sir Richard Branson claim to the contrary.

She remains the largest passenger ship ever to be designed and built in America. Before her retirement in 1969, United States was the most glamorous and elegant ship in the world, having transported four US presidents, international royalty, many of Hollywood’s “golden era” celebrities, as well as a million passengers.

While the ship captivated travellers with her features and elegance, her origin was equally intriguing. She was designed as part of a top-secret Pentagon programme during the Cold War, which stipulated she could be quickly converted from a luxury liner into a naval troopship in the event of a war, carrying 15,000 troops with a 240,000 shaft horsepower propulsion plant capable of traveling 10,000 nautical miles, almost half way around the globe, without the need of refuelling.

In October 2015, the Directors of the Conservancy Board announced that because of the persistent challenge of covering the vessel’s monthly expenses they had been compelled them to engage a shipbroker to explore the potential sale of the ship to be responsibly recycled.

This news resulted in an outpouring of public support worldwide and led to the Conservancy raising additional funds which enabled the organisation to continue its preservation efforts and pursue negotiations with potential investors and partners.

Thousands responded that SOS all refusing to give up the fight to save America’s Flagship. Then the cavalry, in the form of Crystal Cruises rode into town. The Hong based shipping giant is the same backer who is behind the recently launched Crystal Yacht Cruises

To facilitate the complex technical feasibility study and to ensure a smooth execution of the project of bringing a forgotten liner back to life Crystal has appointed retired US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tim Sullivan to build and lead a team with a wide range of cruise line technical, legal and regulatory expertise. Together they will ensure the feasibility study is conducted with appropriately wide consultation and adherence to both safety and environmental awareness

With 36 years of active service, the Admiral has extensive experience in ship operations as a Commanding Officer of numerous Coast Guard cutters, and over the years has engaged in high level of interaction with a myriad of US government agencies and international regulatory entities.

In order to meet modern demands and sail in full regulatory compliance, United States will have to be extensively re-built to meet over 60 years of new maritime rules and shipbuilding practices. If the rebuild goes ahead Crystal Cruises will transform the vessel into an 800-guest-capacity vessel, featuring 400 luxurious suites measuring about 350 square feet with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities that are true to the ship’s storied history. Features of the original United States such as the Promenade and Navajo Lounge will be retained, while new engines and sophisticated marine technology will be installed to maintain her title as the fastest cruise vessel in the world.

Meanwhile the not for profit conservancy organisation will continue to expand its curatorial and archival collections as it advances its mission of educating the public about the ships history. It will work with Crystal to establish shipboard displays and other educational programmes.

Planning is also underway for a land-based museum dedicated to preserving the legacy of America’s Flagship along with broader design, innovation and discovery themes. The museum will feature a wide range of original artefacts and historic components from the ship’s heyday.