Passion for Transatlantic Passenger Liners

Our National Flagship: S.S. United States

The SS United States

Many people do not know about the American icon, the S.S. United States.  When someone mentions the phrase ‘famous ocean liner,’ the first name that comes to mind for most is R.M.S. Titanic.  While R.M.S. Titanic is famous for obvious reasons, had she not been the victim of the unfortunate and world-famous accident she is known for, she would have sailed into obscurity instead of destiny.  Our national flagship was bigger than the Titanic and so very much faster. The S.S. United States is a legend amongst ocean liners.  To this very day, she holds the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing by a passenger ship, earning her the coveted Blue Ribband award.    For decades, her hull configuration  was a government-guarded secret.   At a moment’s notice, she could be converted into a troop transport, and was  considered a secret weapon during the Cold War between the US and communist nations. She carried world dignitaries, celebrities and immigrants.  She was the stage of several Vogue Magazine fashion shows and was the toast of New York City. The S.S. United States was a celebrity amongst celebrities. Everyone wanted to be seen on her or be reported sailing aboard her for business and pleasure. She was glamorous and safe; she was record-breaking and stylish; she was never late, and she was always shining like a brand new dime.  Nearly every edition of contemporary newspapers mentioned this ship, and she was even determined to be the safest way of transporting the painting Mona Lisa across the Atlantic. With the first commercial airline flights the Atlantic could be crossed in hours instead of days. The S.S. United States was simply the victim of progress.

Yes, she was the grandest thing on the sea, but that no longer mattered because the world was becoming indifferent. In 1969, she put into port and was laid up. Her future has been uncertain ever since. After trying several times, I couldn’t come up with any better way to call awareness of why saving this historical treasure than what the SS United States Conservancy has stated on their website:

“The significance of the SS United States to the American Merchant Marine cannot be overstated. The ship remains the largest passenger vessel constructed in the United States and the fastest ocean liner to ever cross the North Atlantic (both eastbound and westbound). As the nation’s flagship for over 17 years, the ship’s service was exemplary and it was never plagued by mechanical difficulty. For over 35 years the ship has been spared from the worst humiliation a vessel can endure: the breaker’s torch. It is not only unusual that a ship, out of service for well over three decades, remains intact, it is extraordinary. Various owners, despite failed revitalization attempts, have recognized the important legacy of this vessel and prevented its otherwise certain demise. In the past decade, a tremendous awareness has emerged of the liner’s plight, and former builders, passengers and crew have come forward in large numbers determined to ensure that the SS United States is preserved as an amazing technological and engineering triumph, and American cultural icon. The tremendous red, white and blue funnels, while somewhat faded, still stand strong and are a testament to the ingenuity, vision, determination and pride that represent the American dream. 

      The S.S. United States Conservancy seeks to preserve and revitalize the SS United States, the largest and fastest ocean liner ever built in her namesake’s country. The Conservancy works to ensure that the nation’s flagship will endure for future generations as the ultimate expression of the United States Merchant Marine and American transatlantic passenger shipping. ”


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2 responses

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    June 3, 2013 at 3:48 pm

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    April 19, 2013 at 10:54 am

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