March 2: An urgent message was sent to the SS United States Conservancy alerting members that the fabled liner, currently laid up at Philadelphia, is being inspected by scrap merchants.
“Dear SS United States Conservancy Members and Supporters:
The SS United States Conservancy has learned that America’s national flagship, the SS United States, may soon be destroyed. The ship’s current owners, Genting Hong Kong (formerly Star Cruises Limited), through its subsidiary, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), are currently collecting bids from scrappers.
The SS United States was a powerful Cold War weapon disguised as a luxury liner. This great passenger ship transported many Americans to and from Europe and other destinations between 1952 and 1969. She carried four U.S. presidents and countless military, diplomatic, and business leaders, celebrities and artists, and foreign heads of state, not to mention thousands of ordinary citizens and immigrants. She still holds the world’s speed record, set on her maiden voyage in 1952.
The ship’s current owners listed the vessel for sale in February, 2009. While NCL graciously offered the Conservancy first right of refusal on the vessel’s sale, the Conservancy has not been in a financial position to purchase the ship outright. However, the Conservancy has been working diligently to lay the groundwork for a public-private partnership to save and sustain the ship for generations to come.
The Conservancy understands that Genting and NCL are reluctant to continue covering the significant costs associated with maintaining the vessel in its current berth in Philadelphia and appreciates the good care the vessel has received since its purchase in 2003 with the stated intention of returning the ship to seagoing service. The Conservancy has maintained a positive working relationship with NCL over the past seven years and looks forward to ongoing collaboration during this critical period.
The Conservancy has begun discussions with NCL with the intent of covering some of the fees associated with maintaining the ship in Philadelphia so it can finalize plans for repurposing the ship as a stationary attraction at a large metropolitan waterfront. The Conservancy’s new national campaign is titled “Save Our Ship” (SOS) and offers a “Plank Owner” certificate for tax-deductible donations of at least $25 via its new donor website: www.ssusplankowner.org.
“This is both a patriotic and a practical effort,” said Conservancy Executive Director Dan McSweeney, whose father emigrated from Scotland to America to serve as a crewmember aboard the vessel. “We’re absolutely committed to saving one of the most important symbols of America in the 20th century, but we’re also talking about creating hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs when this ship is refurbished and becomes a stationary attraction in a large U.S. city. We must save this irreplaceable American icon and continue the process of establishing a public-private partnership to re-purpose her.”
Please help us save our national flagship! We are truly down to the wire!
With our best wishes,
The SS United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors