S.S. United States: Against All Odds: Photos

Since being pulled from service in 1969, the S.S. United States has somehow clung to life, although a distant shadow of her former self, currently docked in Philadelphia, where she has been since the 1990s.

Cruise Industry News spent a day aboard the vessel along with Dan McSweeney managing director of the S.S. United States Redevelopment Project.

The biggest passenger ship built in the U.S., the 53,330-ton liner holds the Blue Riband speed record for the fastest Atlantic crossing, which she set on her maiden voyage in 1952 at an average of just under 36 knots.

Now, the S.S. United States Conservancy is trying to save her, and is the latest in a rotating door of owners since the late 1960s.

Plans call for a floating hotel, museum, and restaurant, located in either New York or Miami.

It’s more than just talk and plans, though, as the group has locations lined up and is moving through a RFP process with developers.

The price tag isn’t cheap, with estimates in the hundreds of millions.

The ship is in surprisingly good condition for not having seen service since 1969, and having been towed to Eastern Europe, and back, for asbestos removal. The insides are gutted, with nothing left, but the hull and superstructure are notable, underlining the job Newport News did on the build in 1952.

The stacks are something out of the history books, slanted, tall and aerodynamic – and can be seen from miles away.

Meanwhile, the hull explains the speed record. The engines from General Electric played a big role, but the hull is like a knife edge, with a deep draft, clearly built for plowing through the ocean at top speed for days at a time.

It seems odd that anyone would want to save this ship, and pour millions into it, but, since being offered for sale by the U.S. Navy in 1978, the vessel has survived a tale no one could write, thanks in part to connections to the many that sailed on her.

Excerpt from the 2012 Cruise Industry News Summer Issue – Click Here to Subscribe

Photos by Cruise Industry News

Cruise Industry News Email Alerts

Cruise Industry News Email Alerts



Get the latest breaking cruise newsSign up.


54 Ships | 122,002 Berths | $36 Billion | View

New 2024 Drydock REPORT


  • Mkt. Overview
  • Record Year
  • Refit Schedule
  • 120 Pages
  • PDF Download
  • Order Today
New 2024 Annual Report


  • 2033 Industry Outlook 
  • All Operators
  • Easy to Use
  • Pre-Order Offer
  • Order Today