Courtesy of Heather Walsh/Newsday.

Courtesy of Heather Walsh/Newsday.

This excellent profile of Robert Sturm, former SS United States engineer and author of the book SS United States: The View From Down Below, explores his decades-long fascination with the Big U.

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Photo of SS United States courtesy of Jane Schuling, radar image of Hurricane Camille courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Climatic Data Center.

I looked out the windows and saw nothing but gray. We were caught in the tail end of Hurricane Camille, a very chilling experience. I went up to the lounge because staying in my cabin made me more seasick. I felt that I might as well try to take my mind off my unsettled stomach. The lounge seemed enormous, perhaps even larger than usual since there were only a handful of passengers up there, maybe seven or eight of us. 

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Courtesy of the Grand Liner Lounge, http://grandlinerlounge.com/

Courtesy of the Grand Liner Lounge (grandlinerlounge.com).

Created by veteran cruise writer, ship photographer, and Conservancy Advisory Council member Peter Knego, this fantastic virtual tour takes visitors inside four of the most iconic trans-Atlantic vessels, including (of course!) the SS United States. Knego includes both historical and current photos of “some of the most spectacular machines ever made for transportation.”

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Courtesy of Louis Kleber.

Courtesy of Louis Kleber.

Overall, I remember excitement. Magic. A giant ship and a very small boy. The big chairs. The round dining tables. Our cabin with cozy beds. I think I made a castle out of all the pillows.

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The SS United States Conservancy was proud to witness the release of the signature craft beer Hull 488 in 12-ounce cans. Newport News city officials were in attendance, and there was much enthusiasm shared in support of the  the SS United States making a grand return to the place where her hull (number 488) was laid.

The energy and support from all attendees is a testament to the enduring power of the SS United States to inspire. Not only did Tradition Brewery donate all proceeds from the silent auction and the sale of Hull 488 at the event to the Conservancy, but they also pledged to donate 5 percent of all proceeds from the sale of cans of Hull 488 going forward!

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Courtesy of Tony Strublic.

Courtesy of Tony Strublic.

I didn’t really begin to study the SS United States until 2014 when the late Jordan Morris, former chair of the SS United States Conservancy Southeastern Chapter, commissioned me to draw a bow-on image of the liner. That was when I began to study her physical appearance as well as her history.

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Courtesy of Chester Kishel, Jr.

Courtesy of Chester Kishel, Jr.

My father was a diplomat with the U.S. State Department, so we traveled constantly throughout the 1960s. We liked taking ships because we could bring our wild and crazy Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible. How is that for luggage?

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SS US_courtesy of JRCOVERT

Courtesy of JRCOVERT.

For each issue of No.26 magazine, the editorial team curates a collection of people, places, things, and ideas – 26 to be exact – that have taken up residence in the forefront of their minds. In the latest issue, the editors featured none other than the SS United States!

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Courtesy of Kathleen Perry.

Courtesy of Kathleen Perry.

One day they told us it was too windy to go out onto the Promenade deck, and Daddy decided to take me out to see how windy it was. The wind picked me up and threw me into the railing – at first, the ship’s doctor thought the impact had broken my arms, but it turned out my elbows had just locked. I remember mostly feeling glad I’d been blown into the railing and not all the way overboard!

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The SS United States in Southampton Harbor.

I sailed to Southampton on the Big U in 1963 three days after the then Hapag-Lloyd ship “Bremen” did, and in a day and a half, we were passing her at sea. The captains of each ship thoroughly enjoyed the moment. You could truly feel her immense speed under your feet – she was the epitome of the nation at that time, our very best at peace.

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The SS United States drydocked at Newport News

The SS United States drydocked at Newport News.

I remember standing on the banks of the James River in Newport News and seeing the SS United States all lit up from bow to stern. I’ll never forget it. My father, Channing Cole, helped to build this great ship.

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The Abbondandolo family during their 1953 voyage from NYC to Germany. Courtesy of Inga Bowyer (née Abbondandolo).

My father was a US Air Force Sergeant assigned to Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico. Family housing on the base was not yet ready for us, so we were headed to Germany to stay with my grandparents while our home in Puerto Rico was built.

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Photo of Sean Connery courtesy of Mario De Biasi/Mondadori Portfolio, image of the first class ballroom courtesy of Cruising the Past.

Photo of Sean Connery courtesy of Mario De Biasi/Mondadori Portfolio, image of the first class ballroom courtesy of Cruising the Past.

The SS United States was a major part of my childhood and adolescence. Starting in 1953, we sailed back and forth across the Atlantic for family vacations. Later, my brother and I commuted to and from boarding school by ourselves each fall and summer.

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The Conservancy is deeply saddened by the passing of Frieda Kerstgens Green, beloved wife of Jim Green, longtime Conservancy supporter and former crewmember. 

Frieda, who sailed on the SS United States’ maiden voyage with her parents, met Jim thanks to a chance encounter aboard the ship during her second voyage in 1957. Their love story was featured in the acclaimed documentary film, “Lady in Waiting.” We send our heartfelt condolences to Jim and their children, John, Heidi, and Chris.

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The SS United States departing for Europe. Photo courtesy of Louise Kleber.

The SS United States departing for Europe. Courtesy of Louise Kleber.

We sailed out of New York Harbor while the Verrazano-Narrows bridge was still under construction. The workers waved to us as we passed underneath, and we waved back. I was bound for Southampton — the first leg of my trip to India on a Fullbright fellowship. I shared a cabin with two other Fullbright scholars also bound for India, and a new member of the diplomatic corps.

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Courtesy of Julia Hatmaker.

Courtesy of Julia Hatmaker.

Reporters from NJ.com, Curbed Philadelphia, Penn Live, and CBS 3 Fox Chasing News came aboard the SS United States to cover Santa’s inspection of the region’s largest chimney — the ship’s six-story-tall forward smokestack.

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Mary Anne Chamberlain (right) poses with a friend she made aboard the ship (left), a young girl from Germany. Although neither girl could speak the other’s native language, they quickly formed a friendship. “Dad knew enough German to communicate with her parents, and her father knew enough English,” Chamberlain recollects. “Perfect!” Photo courtesy of Mary Anne Chamberlain.

Mary Anne Chamberlain (right) poses with a friend she made aboard the ship (left), a young girl from Germany. Although neither girl could speak the other’s native language, they quickly formed a friendship. “Dad knew enough German to communicate with her parents, and her father knew enough English,” Chamberlain recollects. “Perfect!” Photo courtesy of Mary Anne Chamberlain.

I remember thinking it was funny being in a pool when there was a huge ocean right there, and sneaking into first class with my brother to explore the front half of the ship. A very nice steward caught us and gently brought us back to our parents in cabin class. Once, while we were playing cards on deck, a gust of wind came up and blew the cards away – some of them ended up in strangers’ tea cups! Everyone was quite good-natured about it.

My father took a great interest in the SS United States, he was so impressed by her speed and grace in the water. My brother and I loved standing on the deck and watching the wavy, light green-blue trail the SS United States left behind as she sped through the water. We also loved people-watching, listening to the many different languages spoken on board, and going through the safety drills.

The SS United States was a true and strong seafaring beauty, with real elegance and magnificent attention to detail in every way. Today’s ships seem to be more about cramming thousands of people into floating cities, it’s like being at a giant shopping mall with dozens of restaurants, pools, climbing walls, and bars, yet very little attention to passenger comfort or aesthetics. As the years go by, our appreciation for the SS United States grows exponentially!

– Mary Anne Chamberlain, who sailed SS United States with her father, mother, brother, sister in 1964 and 1966.

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As Christmas Nears, Santa Claus to Survey Philadelphia’s Largest Chimney Aboard the SS United States; Philadelphia Welcome Delegation includes Mummers Fancy Brigade and Tony Luke’s Cheesesteaks sponsored by MBB Management

NORTH POLE, December 19, 2016 — Santa Claus will be in the Philadelphia area on Wednesday evening in advance of his annual trip around the world to deliver presents to good girls and boys. He will be conducting a survey of chimneys throughout the city to ensure swift delivery of presents on Christmas Eve. While in Philadelphia, he will be able to be spotted visiting the area’s largest chimney – the six-story-tall forward smokestack on America’s Flagship, the SS United States. Santa’s visit to the ship will coincide with the lighting of the ship’s funnels and other portions of the famed ocean liner for the holiday season.

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Annual Appeal 2016_donation ask

The SS United States Conservancy has achieved many major milestones over the past year:

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Photo courtesy of Brian M. Lumley

Photo courtesy of Brian M. Lumley.

“Every so often something so rock and roll comes past our desk that we just can’t pass it up,” writes journalist and photographer Brian Lumley. Lumley, who primarily covers the music scene in Cleveland, Ohio, recently got the opportunity to tour the SS United States.

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Menu from a 1958 crossing made by Wilma Herzog (née Eis). Courtesy of Wilma Herzog.

Menu from a 1958 crossing made by Wilma Herzog (née Eis). Courtesy of Wilma Herzog.

I wanted to see the “Big Apple,” New York City, but had no money to go there. I had no intentions to stay in the United States forever, either. I was lucky enough to get a job contract, I thought I’d stay for one year at the utmost. And what a beginning: a trip via the SS United States. I felt like a king!

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Heinz Bayer sees the SS United States for the first time since it brought him to the United States from Germany in the 1960s. Courtesy of Julia Hatmaker.

Heinz Bayer sees the SS United States for the first time since it brought him to the United States from Germany in the 1960s. Courtesy of Julia Hatmaker.

A news team from PennLive was on hand at our crew reunion in September to interview attendees about what the SS United States means to them. You can now watch stories from five individuals — Heinz Bayer, who emigrated from Germany aboard the SS United States; Joe Rota, a long-time crew hand; Harold Goldfarb, who once served as the ship’s surgeon; and Susan Gibbs, granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs, and the Conservancy’s executive director.

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 Courtesy of Julia Hatmaker.

Courtesy of Julia Hatmaker.

This excellent article by Julia Hatmaker delves into the rich history of the SS United States — including William Francis Gibbs’ legendarily obsessive fireproofing — and projects what the future could hold for “the jewel of the American maritime experience.”

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We’re proud to announce that our New York Chapter carried on the tradition of participating in the New York Veterans Day Parade, also known as America’s Parade. They marched up Fifth Avenue to honor the brave individuals who served our nation, and to commemorate the SS United States’ proud career as a peacetime flagship liner always ready to serve her nation if duty called.

Thank you to our New York Chapter Co-Chairs Paul Stipkovich, Glenn Lappin and Carl Weber for leading the SS United States Conservancy’s contingent, as well as to Lloyd Burket, Ralph Casado, Eric Fahner, Jaye Maynard, Fred Rodriguez, Rita Sharkey, Mike St. Amour, Eileen Wangner, and to all the chapter members, family members, and supporters who gave their time and enthusiasm to the event. The generosity and dedication of all involved made it possible to represent the SS United States with bright, festive conviviality.

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Debra Milgrim-Heath (née Katz) boarding the SS United States with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Emil Katz. Courtesy of D.K. Milgrim-Heath.

I sailed from the NYC docks to Le Havre, France with my parents in April of 1962. They wanted to take me to see Europe in the springtime.

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The Pittner brothers aboard the SS United States, 1955. Courtesy of Michael Pittner.

I was awed by the sheer size of the SS United States when we boarded in Le Havre. I was a mere eleven-year-old lad, and an adventurous one, so the second we were aboard, my goal was to explore the ship from stem to stern. I would return to my parents to tell them where this was located and where that was to be found — I was just bubbly with excitement. I was astonished that a ship could have a swimming pool. I remember distinctly it was filled with salt water, which I didn’t expect when I jumped in. Yuk to the taste, yay to the swimming.

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The Pittner family sees the SS United States for the first time. Courtesy of Michael Pittner.

The Pittner family sees the SS United States for the first time. Courtesy of Michael Pittner.

Standing at the gangplank with mouths wide open from amazement of the size of the ship, we were photographed and later received the pictures onboard. Not only was the SS United States beautiful on the outside, but also the interior was wonderful to see, too luxurious for our way of life then.

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Charles W. Cushman Photograph collection Indiana University Archives_manhattans-skyscrapers-from-jersey-city-ferry-boat-1941

Manhattan skyline as seen from a ferry on the Hudson River, 1941. Courtesy of the Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection/Indiana University Archives.

I came to work at Gibbs & Cox as the result of an employment ad for a “junior typist” in the New York Times. I was told by the manager of the recruitment department that it was the only time such an ad was placed. In spite of my age (either 15 or 16), I was called in, took a typing test, and passed it.

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The SS United States Conservancy welcomed over 150 guests at our 2016 Crew Reunion and Celebration, among them, seventeen former crew members, twenty-four former passengers, and several former Gibbs & Cox employees, including one of William Francis Gibbs’ former assistants!

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Photo courtesy of Lori Ridington.

In an article for the Asbury Park Press, the docents of the New Jersey Maritime Museum examine the crucial role ocean liners played as troop transports during wartime, and analyze the specifics of what would have been required to convert the SS United States to a troop ship.

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Liz and Tracey Phalen pose in front of the SS United States, March 1963. Courtesy of Tracey Phalen.

Liz and Tracey Phalen pose in front of the SS United States, March 1963. Courtesy of Tracey Phalen.

It was so exciting when we moved away from shore with all the people waving and streamers flying — just like the movies!

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Charter Weeks film_still

Film still from “Tow Boat,” courtesy of Charter Weeks and the SS United States Conservancy.

Our principal interest was documentary filmmaking, and in order to get hired to do this, we had to have a sample. So, we decided to film a day in the life of a tow boat in New York Harbor. Moran Towing agreed – honestly, we were hoping they’d give us some money! We spent about six or eight weeks shooting the material, then we put together the film. When we presented it to Moran, they came back to us and said: “Nah, we’re not really interested in spending money on this.”

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Photo of Mary Anne Barry at age 10, in the white dress on the far right, handing in her bingo card during her 1956 crossing with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Barry. Donated by Mary Anne Cox.

Photo of Mary Anne Barry at age 10, in the white dress on the far right, handing in her bingo card during her 1956 crossing with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Barry. Donated by Mary Anne Cox.

I loved watching the arrivals at ports of call – Le Havre, Cherbourg, Southampton – for all the excitement of entering the harbors with pilot boats and tugs guiding us in and out. Waving crowds and waiting friends added to excitement.

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Arthur Bello, engineer and boiler room operator, is pictured bottom row, fifth person in from the left. Courtesy of Drew Bello.

Arthur Bello, engineer and boiler room operator, is pictured bottom row, fifth person in from the left. Courtesy of Drew Bello.

When Uncle Art was supervising the installation of the propellers, he met William Francis Gibbs.  Art said to Gibbs, “Real fine lines – that’s a beauty!” to which Gibbs responded “That she is.”

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Courtesy of Ken Landfield/Alaska Dispatch News.

“It’s remarkable how much information is on that sheet of paper, mostly typed with some handwritten notations,” muses Ken Landfield in an opinion piece for Alaska Dispatch News. The piece of paper in question is the ship’s manifest from the voyage that brought Landfield’s parents (and many other passengers) across the Atlantic to the United States.

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Having never been aboard the Big U prior to this stint as ship’s surgeon, I was as flummoxed as the newly boarded passengers were about the layout of the ship. After the first three or four lost, puzzled passengers stopped me – dressed in my spiffy officer’s maritime uniform – to ask the location of this or that, I beat a hasty retreat to my cabin to study the ship’s layout. Needless to say, ego conflated with ignorance ensured I quickly learned the SS United States’ layout!

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Nick Starace_US Navy Ensign uniform_1957

Ensign Starace in dress uniform, 1957. Courtesy of Nicholas Starace.

I still have the pay stub from my very first trip — a whopping $424.61 before taxes, for eighteen days’ work with some overtime. That was big money in those days, certainly more than I had ever dreamed of making.

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SS United States Sun Deck. Courtesy of Anders Johannessen.

SS United States Sun Deck. Courtesy of Anders Johannessen.

“After nearly 47 years in lay-up, SS United States is at a crossroads once again,” writes maritime photographer Anders Johannessen. Johannessen recently visited the ship, and came away with over 100 photographs, which he has generously made available to the public on his site “Cruise/Liner.” He accompanies the photos with his thoughts about the past and present of the SS United States.

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Courtesy of Joe Rota.

Courtesy of Joe Rota.

I was up in the radio room next to the bridge and there must have been a dozen officers milling around, which was very unusual, and they all had their binoculars and were pointing out the starboard window. I stepped out and saw this submarine surfacing just about a couple of hundred yards off the starboard side. The thing that really surprised me was that she was keeping up with us, and we were doing over 30 knots. This sub came up and surfaced, flashed her light, and then went back down again. She might have been up for a minute.

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From the SS United States Conservancy Archives.

Senior Editor Tom Steighorst explores the unique redevelopment opportunity the SS United States offers.

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Photo of the First Class Ballroom courtesy of Robert G. Lenzer.

If you’d like a glimpse into the SS United States in her heyday, look no further than these photos of her midcentury modern interiors.

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Photo courtesy of Robert Sturm.

Courtesy of Robert Sturm.

Starting as a junior engineer, it felt like entering as a freshman at college. The complexities of the machinery contributed to that feeling, the culture aboard was another factor. It took about three voyages before I began to feel at home.

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Photo courtesy of Ed Clayton.

Courtesy of Ed Clayton.

When I was off-duty, I mingled with passengers in the modern, stylish First Class interiors. I never met anyone famous, but I knew when notables were onboard, like John Wayne. The entire ship was unionized, and it was tough to get in. I was considered unlicensed personnel in the Steward’s Department. The best part of working on board the SS United States was her speed – we would be cruising at 32+ knots, even in heavy seas. Just being at sea, that was what I enjoyed most.

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The August 5th joint announcement released by the Conservancy and Crystal Cruises has been covered widely by media sources in the United States and beyond ranging from major print outlets to travel and maritime industry blogs: The New York Times, NY 1, Daily PressThe News TribunePortland Press HeraldNewsday, Travel Weekly, Zimbabwe Star, CBS Philly, Philadelphia Business Journal, Curbed PhiladelphiaTravel Pulse, Maritime Matters, philly.com, and Cruise Industry News.

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Dear Conservancy Supporters:

Today the SS United States Conservancy is sharing with our supporters that our option agreement with Crystal Cruises will not advance. As you know, in February of this year the Conservancy signed an exclusive option agreement with Crystal with the goal of returning the SS United States to seagoing service. Unfortunately, transforming America’s Flagship into a modern, commercial cruise ship in compliance with current international regulations proved too challenging and would have imposed major changes to the ship’s historic design well beyond those initially envisioned.

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America’s Flagship Found Structurally Sound But Technical Challenges Prevent Her Return to Modern Seagoing Service

SS United States Conservancy Will Continue To Pursue Redevelopment Opportunities

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Eva Heins and her son Eduard J.K. Heins boarding the SS United States in Le Havre. Courtesy of Eva M. Heins.

My husband, Edward J. Heins, Jr., was a crew member on the SS United States for her maiden voyage and sailed on the ship as her chief plumber for some time thereafter. He insisted my son and I come back on the “his ship” after one of my trips to Austria to be with my family. On May 2nd, 1963, my son Eddie (aged 6 at the time) and I embarked on the SS United States from Le Havre to New York.

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Joe Muchulsky_first class deck steward_SSUS

Courtesy of Joe Muchulsky.

I caught the end of that bygone era, the age of glamor. The passengers would wear different gowns and tuxedos every night. It wasn’t like today with gals wearing short shorts and flip flops to the lunch table. When the checkered cabs would pull up at Pier 86, they’d roll out the steamer trunks for the passengers that were coming on board. Sailing day was very high energy, you could feel it in the ship. The two days when energy would increase were always arrival and departure.

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Photo courtesy of Alex Keisch, who noted: “The second mate took the enclosed picture and staged it so that we could get the stacks in the background.  Anyone familiar with the ship would know that I am shooting the sun into the wheelhouse!”

Photo courtesy of Alex Keisch, who noted: “The second mate took the enclosed picture and staged it so that we could get the stacks in the background. Anyone familiar with the ship would know that I am shooting the sun into the wheelhouse!”

It fell on the cadets to draw the weather map each day. We worked at least an hour transposing the coded numbers into interlacing weather systems on a grid of the North Atlantic. It was all black pen on a white paper background, with one great splash of color: a red, white, and blue stack with a dot placed carefully and precisely on the leading edge. The importance of this red stack can’t be overstated since it marked our new position each day, proudly demonstrating the expanse of ocean we had traversed in the last twenty-four hours. It was the captain’s habit to check this creation of ours each morning — we all thought he was more critical of the care taken in coloring the stack than of the actual information the map revealed.

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Photo courtesy of Miguel Cruz.

Courtesy of Miguel Cruz.

After closing the scullery, we would venture into the First Class galley and pick up a couple of filet mignons, some French bread, a number 10 can of draft beer, and take them back to the aft crew deck below the main deck and watch the seas roll by. Talk about the good life!

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United-States-Alexanderson-FeaturedIf the SS United States gets a new captain after all these years, “he or she will have some pretty big shoes to fill,” writes John Edwards. The last captain of the United States was Leroy John Alexanderson, a United States Lines captain and commodore who was master of the ship for the last five years of her service career.

Read the full profile of Alexanderson HERE.

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Photo courtesy of Hal Bingaman.

Courtesy of Hal Bingaman.

The most memorable part of the crossing was our near-forty knot speed, slicing through the Gulf Stream. Visiting the engine room was next: a quarter-million horsepower, spinning four long shafts from the power turbines to eighteen foot props; spotlessness everywhere, even in the engine room. The staff of SS United States were bright and efficient, a skilled team in complete harmony. They tended to our daughter’s needs and comforted my wife’s storm-illness.

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In this two-page spread, Macaulay examines the interaction between the propeller and the boiler.

Click image to enlarge.

Sketches showing how the propellers, turbines, and boilers worked together to generate power. Click image to enlarge.

Gibbs’ new ship would be driven by four screw propellers each turned by a pair of turbines producing 60,000 horsepower. High temperature, high pressure boilers would superheat the steam to around 900 degrees. This would spin the blades of a high pressure turbine at 5,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). That same steam would then be piped into a larger low pressure turbine, spinning its blades at 3,500 rpm. A set of double reduction gears would link both turbine shafts to a single propeller shaft creating a ideal speed of around 200 rpm. 

Under each low pressure turbine was a condenser containing several hundred closely-spaced tubes through which cold water from below the ship was channeled. When exhausted steam passed between the tubes, it was converted back into water, creating a vacuum that drew more steam into the condenser. Water was collected in a hot well below each condenser and then pumped through various tubes for cleaning and reheating on its way back to the boiler. 

He also compares the Big U’s engine to the Queen Mary’s.

Queen Mary was equipped with single reduction gears. Her engines produced just 40,000 horsepower, she was 30 feet longer, 17 feet wider, 6 feet taller, sat 8 feet deeper in the water, and was 30,000 tons heavier. This was never going to be a fair fight.

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Photo courtesy of Beverly Jackson.

Courtesy of Beverly Jackson.

I joined forces with my parents for a going away party held in their stateroom for those who came to see you off. Until I entered my own room and saw flowers everywhere, I confess I was apprehensive that maybe no one would send me any, but all my beaus came through! Then came the time when the party must end: “All ashore who are going ashore!” blasted over the loud speaker and off the visitors went down the gang plank while the orchestra played.

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Photo courtesy of Paul MacCarthy.

Courtesy of Paul MacCarthy.

It’s a very famous call sign. Whenever you were talking to someone from the ship, anywhere around the world, it was the first thing you would say: this is Superliner United States KJEH. If you were talking to somebody in Dubai, you’d say, “This is Kilo-Juliette-Echo-Hotel.” If you were talking to somebody nearby, you’d say KJEH, because they’d know. It was the night before we arrived on one of the last trip coming across from the UK to New York; for dinner on the last night there were special menus and special music, all the guys would be wearing their best tuxedos, and the women in formal evening dress looking a like a million. A couple came in after dinner, they said to me, “We want to make a call to a very small town in New Jersey, Saddle River — you’ve probably never heard of it.” ”Heard of it?” I said, “I live in Upper Saddle River.” It’s a small world.

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Here we will share firsthand accounts from those whose lives crossed paths with the ship — passengers, crewmembers, shipbuilders, and more. The SS United States touched many lives all over the world, and not always in ways you’d expect. These transmissions from the ship’s past and present ensure the intangible history of the SS United States lives on. By broadcasting stories from individuals with deep connections to the ship, we can transmit her great legacy into the future. Join us, won’t you?

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Photo courtesy of Frank Slate Brooks.

Photo courtesy of Frank Slate Brooks.

We invite you to join us for our special summer gathering, hosted by Frank Slate Brooks, Conservancy Advisory Council & Blue Riband Council member, and Southeastern Chapter co-chair.

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Dear Conservancy Supporters:

I am writing to thank you for your continued support of the SS United States and to share a brief update on our progress.  As you know, in February the SS United States Conservancy signed an exclusive option agreement with Crystal Cruises in hopes of returning America’s Flagship to seagoing service.  Crystal executives, including President & CEO Edie Rodriguez and her technical advisors, convened in Philadelphia over the weekend to assess progress and plans.  In recent months, Crystal has been evaluating the various technical issues and requirements of the ship’s potential conversion. The historic vessel must be completely re-engineered to comply with modern rules and standards, while retaining her historic profile and visual cues. This is an exhilarating — and challenging — undertaking, and it takes time. Crystal is covering all of the ship’s monthly carrying costs as this feasibility study progresses.

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Photo courtesy of Byron Huart.

Although Byron Huart, maritime historian and photographer, travels the world documenting ships, the SS United States will always hold a special place in his heart. “Whenever I’m in Philly, I always go down to photograph her at sunrise or sunset,” Huart told Philadelphia Tribune staff writer Bobbi Booker. “I consider the SS United States a ship that has cheated death many times.”

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The SS United States in her current berth in Philadelphia. Photo by Shana Gray.

Hugh Lessig of the Daily Press covers the Conservancy’s recent acquisition of over 600 artifacts, and how that will further the Conservancy’s education and preservation goals. Lessig notes that in tandem with the ongoing option agreement with Crystal, the Conservancy is focused on developing a land-based exhibitions to tell the story of the SS United States in more detail.

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The Mariners’ Museum of Newport News Makes Major Donation of Furniture, Fittings, Artwork, and Historic Photos as SS United States Conservancy Advances Museum Plans

WASHINGTON DC — Continuing its commitment to protect and showcase the legacy of America’s Flagship, the SS United States, the SS United States Conservancy is proud to announce the acquisition of more than 600 artifacts to its growing curatorial collection.  The generous donation of artwork, fittings, furniture, and historic documents from the ship was made by The Mariners’ Museum of Newport News, VA, as well as the Dr. Sarah E. Forbes Collection, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hunnicutt III, and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

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The stunning Charles Lin Tissot panels as they appeared in their heyday in the SS United States’ private dining room.
(Photo courtesy of the Carl Weber collection).

The Conservancy has been moving forward “full speed ahead” with its curatorial and historic preservation programs. We are delighted to share that we’ve acquired an important panel designed by artist Charles Lin Tissot that originally hung in the SS United States‘ private dining room — the most exclusive dining area aboard the Big U. The panel, known as the “Snowflake Crystal Montage,” features crystal sculptures mounted on highly polished aluminum sheets.

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Macaulay exhibition_video still

Video still courtesy of United States Lines.

The SS United States Conservancy and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, are partnering with renowned author/illustrator and Conservancy Advisory Council Member, David Macaulayon a very exciting exhibition “Superliner United States Writes Headlines” slated to be unveiled in fall 2017.

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The SS United States docked in Philadelphia. Photo by Stephen Mallon.

The SS United States docked in Philadelphia. Photo by Stephen Mallon.

National Geographic perfectly captures the SS United States‘ magnificence and historical significance in a beautifully-illustrated story written by Robert Kunzig and photographed by Stephen Mallon.

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Crystal Cruises President and CEO Edie Rodriguez (left) and Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs (right) with Fox and Friends co-hosts

Crystal Cruises President and CEO Edie Rodriguez (left) and Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs (right) on the set of Fox and Friends

Fox and Friends interviewed Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs and Crystal Cruises President and CEO Edie Rodriguez. They discussed what the latest option-agreement has in store for America’s Flagship, and how the Conservancy’s mission to preserve her artifacts is more important than ever.

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The Conservancy’s announcement that it has entered into an option agreement with Crystal Cruises to bring the SS United States back into service in tandem with the Conservancy’s ongoing curatorial and historic preservation programs received worldwide media attention.

National television coverage included Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs and Crystal Cruises President and CEO Edie Rodriguez appearing on Fox and Friends as well as a story on CBS This Morning.

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The Conservancy’s announcement that it has entered into an option agreement with Crystal Cruises to bring the SS United States back into service in tandem with its ongoing curatorial and historic preservation programs received worldwide media attention.

The news about the SS United States’ momentous milestone went global, with stories in many international outlets. You can read the articles here: The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, Toronto Sun, La Repubblica (Italy), and La Nacion (Argentina).

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The Conservancy’s February 4 announcement that it has entered into an option agreement with Crystal Cruises to bring the SS United States back into service received extensive news coverage throughout many media outlets.

While the breaking news was covered by hundreds of television and print outlets all over the world, many travel and maritime websites and blogs also joined in and covered the news. You can read the articles and blogs here: Travel Weekly, Conde Nast Traveler, Maritime Matters, Maritime Professional, Travel Daily News, Rudy Maxa’s World with The Careys (February 6 podcast, first hour, 24:50), Travels with Anthony, Crystal Cruises, and Mark B. Perry’s Hollywood Raconteur.

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PLANS ANNOUNCED TO RESTORE AMERICA’S FLAGSHIP

Crystal signs exclusive purchase option agreement to begin work on returning the historic vessel to service as the fastest cruise vessel in the world
 

NEW YORK, February 4, 2016 – Already in the midst of the most significant expansion in the company’s celebrated history, Crystal Cruises’ next step in expanding its award-winning fleet is truly an historic endeavor. Together with the SS United States Conservancy, Crystal today announced it will save “America’s flagship,” the SS United States, and embark on the enormous undertaking of bringing the ship into compliance with the latest standards, and returning her to oceangoing service. During the announcement, made at a press conference at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York City, Crystal also committed to covering all costs associated with preserving the ship while undertaking a technical feasibility study, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

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The following statement was released by the Conservancy today:

“The Conservancy is planning to make on announcement on February 4 about the future of the SS United States. Unfortunately, we can’t provide additional information at this time, but more information will be released in the coming days. We can’t thank you enough for your continued support and enthusiasm as momentum continues to build on behalf of America’s Flagship.”

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We are thrilled to announce an exciting and generous challenge grant from a supporter who has requested anonymity. This supporter has committed $50,000 to the Conservancy – if we can match it dollar for dollar!

Funds raised will support the conservancy’s crucial preservation efforts and help us build the conservancy’s permanent curatorial collection of SS United States art and artifacts. Momentum continues to build in support of america’s flagship and the conservancy is deeply grateful for such generous support. Donations of any size can be made HERE.

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December 2015 – Soundings Magazine’s Mary South covers the SS United States

 

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Historic cruise ship gets $600,000 lifeline as preservationists save it from scrapyard November 25, 2015 – Fox News

 

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RALLYING AROUND OUR FLAGSHIP: SS UNITED STATES RECEIVES MAJOR DONATIONS, CONSERVANCY BOARD REJECTS SCRAP BIDS

Organization Working to Save and Repurpose America’s Flagship Announces More than $600,000 Raised in Seven Weeks

WASHINGTON DC… November 24, 2015 - In early October, the SS United States Conservancy was only weeks away from being forced to sell America’s Flagship to a recycler. However, thanks to the generosity of supporters from around the world to the #SaveTheUnitedStatescampaign,we are pleased to announce that we have raised sufficient funds to keep the ship afloat well into next year.  The Conservancy had announced last month that it had retained a broker to explore the ship’s sale to a U.S.-based recycler because of the financial burdens imposed by the 1,000-foot-long liner’s monthly expenses.The Conservancy acquired the SS United States in 2011 and has been working to convert the historic vessel into a mixed-use museum and development complex.

Thanks to several major donations, as well as additional contributions from more than 800 supporters, the Conservancy’s Board of Directors voted late Monday not to accept any of the three bids submitted by the recyclers. The Conservancy has now raised well over $600,000 since it issued last month’s SOS, including two $100,000 gifts and a $250,000 donation. The Conservancy’s board was also encouraged by recent progress on the redevelopment front.“People from the world over have sent a loud and clear message that the SS United States must not be destroyed,” stated Susan Gibbs, the Conservancy’s Executive Director. “From a 6th grader named Thomas in Florida who sent in a $5 bill along with a wonderful drawing of the ship in red, white, and blue magic marker, to our three extraordinary leadership donors, the outpouring of support has been incredibly encouraging.The SS United States has been given a temporary lifeline, and we are now powerfully positioned to advance our shared goal of saving America’s Flagship for future generations.”

As a result of the campaign, which was covered in hundreds of media outlets in dozens of countries, the Conservancy’s ongoing redevelopment negotiations have also gained new momentum.  Prior to October’s SOS campaign launch, the Conservancy had already identified two potential locations that could accommodate the vessel, and new investor interest in recent weeks has introduced new possibilities and programming concepts for the historic liner. “Several qualified partners have recently made site visits with their engineers, architects and executives,” said Gibbs.”The possibilities for the SS United States’ revitalization are truly exciting.”

The $250,000 donation was made by a West Coast supporter, who expressed his desire to remain anonymous. In a statement to the Conservancy’s Board he said: “Letting the SS United States go to the breakers would be like letting the Statue of Liberty be melted down and turned into pennies. Unthinkable.Imagine a future in which this incredible, one-of-a-kind symbol of American know-how has been preserved, ready to be experienced by visitors of all ages.”

Former SS United States deck officer Richard O’Leary also stepped up and contributed $100,000 to the effort.  “I believe strongly that the Conservancy’s effort must succeed,” stated O’Leary.  “This ship represents a grand example of what Americans can accomplish. To illuminate her red, white and blue stacks once again would serve as a gleaming and powerful symbol and would showcase the greatness of this country.  I invite others to join me in supporting this important cause.”

Cruise industry executive Jim Pollin, whose generous contributions and challenge grant in 2014 helped keep the ship afloat and saved one of its propellers, also contributed $100,000.  “The SS United States has again inspired people around the world to action,” Pollin said.  “What message would it send to the world if we allowed one of our soaring national symbols to be destroyed?  We can’t let that happen. We must save our Flagship.”

With the ship’s immediate future secured, the Conservancy will continue its ongoing negotiations with existing and new developers who are actively engaged in exploring options for the ship’s adaptive reuse.”This immediate lifeline gives us crucial time to finalize a redevelopment agreement that will secure a long-term sustainable solution for the ship,” said Gibbs.  “We are more confident now than we have ever been that we will finally achieve our goal and bring new life to this great symbol of American history, design, and innovation.”

 
Read the New York Times coverage of this breaking news! 

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The Conservancy is very pleased to announce receipt of a major in-kind donation: Anode Solutions Inc. and Anode Systems Company have teamed up to offer expert cathodic protection support to the SS United States.   

 

All steel-hulled ships are at risk of corrosion because of complicated chemical reactions that occur when metals meet water, and these galvanic threats can be minimized by installing “sacrificial anodes” – electrochemically active metals – on the ship’s hull. Thankfully, the brackish water of the Delaware River has minimized these threats, and the hull of the SS United States remains strong.  However, this support from Anode Solutions and Anode Systems Company will include an in-depth assessment and provide additional protection as the ship is readied for redevelopment.

 

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Image courtesy of New York Chapter C0-chair Paul Stipkovich

Image courtesy of New York Chapter C0-chair Paul Stipkovich

Although never called into duty, the SS United States was always at the ready to serve her country in the event of war. Designed for quick transformation from luxury liner to troop carrier, the SS United States could transport 15,000 troops 10,000 miles without refueling!

This past Veteran’s Day, our New York Chapter marched in “America’s Parade” in New York City – we could not have been more proud. New York Chapter members who escorted the Big U’s mighty funnels down 5th Avenue included Ely, Michael, William, Ralph, Cassie, Janette, Donald, Jaye, Carl, Glenn, Susan (and friend), Delia, Paul and Freddie.  The Conservancy also thanks board member Dan McSweeney, United War Veterans Council President, for providing us with this opportunity. Check out the photos below of our wonderful supporters who went above and beyond!

To our nation’s veterans and active-duty soldiers – we salute you!

 

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At the beginning of October, the SS United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors made the difficult decision to engage a broker to explore the possible sale of the SS United States. That decision was made in an effort to ensure that our organization was being as financially responsible as possible given the persistent challenge of covering the vessel’s $60,000 monthly carrying costs. Since that time, there has been an outpouring of support worldwide that demonstrates the enduring importance of America’s Flagship to a growing, global community. The ship has garnered major media attention from outlets at the local, national, and international levels. While the numbers are not yet final, the Conservancy has raised well over $100,000 as a result of this global call to action. These resources have given us some additional time to advance our redevelopment plans in conjunction with several potential partners. Those discussions and negotiations have picked up momentum in recent weeks as well.

This progress has been made thanks to your commitment, and we are still compiling the necessary information to help the Board fully and responsibly evaluate our current situation from a financial and redevelopment standpoint. As a result, the Board has opted to defer any additional determination about the ship’s immediate future until later this month.

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We would like to thank everyone who joined us at the Conservancy’s “Star-Spangled Fundraiser” at Philadelphia’s historic Union League on October 29.  The event raised crucial funds for the SS United States and drew Conservancy supporters from as far away as Spain, California, Hawaii, Florida, and Illinois. The event drew nine Conservancy chapter chairs from across the country and Europe, and beloved Southeastern US chapter chair, Jordan Morris, was with us in spirit.  We were also honored to have former crew members in attendance, including Joe RotaJim Green, and Alex Keisch.

The evening’s highlights included soaring musical perfomances of original songs inspired by the SS United States by renowned musicians Marc Jonson and Dan Landau.  Rachel Neitzke’s dance performance to Dan Landau’s “To Every Journey” was spellbinding.

Huge thanks to our event sponsors:

 

Dr. Marie Prewett,  Kevin Billings, Atlantic Logistics, Shady Brook Farms, Typetanic Fonts, Cardno, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Williamette Valley Vineyards, Broker’s London Dry Gin, WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey, Woodford Reserve,  Zonin1829 Wine, & Flying Fish Brewing Co.

 

Thank you to all the contributors to the event’s silent auction and raffle, including:

 

Kyle Ober, Dotty Duddy, Independence Seaport Museum, Maria Mijares, Mario Alvarez-Garcillán, Laura. D Zajac & LDZ Design, Ted Piersol & Honeybrook Gold Club, Paul Stipkovich, Glenn Lappin, and Christopher Moody & Life Celebrations Services. 
Congratulations to Paul Stipkovich and Bill Magee for receiving the Conservancy’s special awards for their ongoing outreach on behalf of the SS United States.  Ray Griffiths and his colleagues at Atlantic Logistics were also honored for their outstanding work on keeping the ship safe and secure at her Philadelphia pier.

Again, we can’t thank you enough for your support!  Momentum is truly building to Save the United States!

Photos courtesy of Kyle Ober

 

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Time running on piece of American history October 26, 2015 – NBC News

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Time running on piece of American history October 23. 2015 – Fox News

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on Fox News. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Legendary ocean liner faces scrapheap without new funds October 20. 2015 – Yahoo News (AFPTV)

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in Yahoo News (AFPTV). The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Iconic ship in danger of being scrapped, could seek N.Y. move October 20. 2015 – New York Daily News

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in New York Daily News. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Luxusliner “SS United States”: Das Ende des Kennedy-Dampfers October 19. 2015 – Spiegel Online

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in German Language Spiegel Online. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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El transatlántico “United States” se niega a morir October 16. 2015 – Periodico Digital

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured Spanish Language Periodico Digital. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Scrapyard beckons SS United States but surely the great ocean liner is worth saving October 16. 2015 – iTV

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on iTV. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Le paquebot de légende qui ne veut pas mourir October 16. 2015 – Le Matin

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on French language newspaper Le Matin. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Campaign to Save the SSUS Racing the Clock to Avoid the Scrapyard October 15. 2015 – Time Warner Cable NY1

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on Time Warner Cable NY1. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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SS United States May Be Sold for Scrap October 15. 2015 – History

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on History. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Supporters of Historic SS United States Send SOS October 15. 2015 – The Associated Press

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in The Associated Press. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Don’t Sink the SS United States October 13. 2015 – Observer

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in Observer. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Destined for the scrapyard: Once the world’s most majestic ocean liner, the SS United States is just weeks away from being recycled October 11. 2015 – Daily Mail

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on Daily Mail. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Famed SS United States possibly doomed to the scrapyard October 10. 2015 – CBS News

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on CBS News. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Conservancy Board Votes to Explore Sale; Sends Out Urgent Call to Prevent Scrapping of Famed Vessel

The SS United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors has released the following statement announcing that despite considerable progress toward finding a permanent home and advancing viable redevelopment plans for America’s Flagship, the organization will be forced to sell the historic vessel to a responsible metals recycler by the end of October unless new donors or investors come forward.  The Conservancy has never been closer to saving the SS United States, nor so close to losing her.

The Conservancy’s recent progress in support of the SS United States‘ redevelopment – as well as its continued challenges – are featured in today’s New York TimesTo read the story, click here. 

 

As you know, the SS United States is the largest and most advanced ocean liner ever built in her namesake nation. Launched in 1952, the ship was developed as part of a top-secret Cold War project to build the fastest ship in the world. She still holds the transatlantic speed record, and is an iconic symbol of America’s post-war power, pride and innovation.

 

The Conservancy continues to do everything possible to support the SS United States’ redevelopment and honor the legacy of America’s Flagship through its educational and curatorial programs.

 

We remain profoundly grateful for your continued support. Our members and donors from across the nation and around the world have literally kept the SS United States afloat. Thank you for your donations, for purchasing tickets to our special event in Philadelphia on October 29, and for helping us spread the word. We will do everything possible to answer your questions and keep you informed in the weeks to come.

 

The statement from the Conservancy’s Board of Directors appears below:

 

“After much deliberation and consultation, the SS United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors has decided to retain a broker to explore the potential sale of America’s Flagship, the SS United States to a responsible, U.S.-based metals recycler.

“We have achieved an extraordinary amount of progress in support of the SS United States‘ potential redevelopment in recent months, including detailed plans, financial models, renderings, and engineering approaches with support from a number of major firms. In so many ways, we’ve never been closer to saving America’s Flagship, but we have also never been closer to losing this irreplaceable piece of our history. 

 

“The Conservancy has been very clear in its communications to its supporters and the media that the carrying costs for the vessel total more than $60,000 per month. While our fundraising effortshave enabled us to meet those continuing obligations to date, thanks to the steadfast support of donors from across the nation and around the world, the financial burdens imposed bythe ship’s ongoing expenses have become unsustainable.

 

“The Conservancy continues to do everything within its power to advance an outcome that protects the vessel, preserves her historical legacy, and secures a viable redevelopment program. As we have announced previously, redevelopment negotiations are ongoing. We have identified two potential locations that can accommodate the ship, and we are continuing complex talks with various entities regarding these sites. These ongoing discussions remain subject to confidentiality agreements signed by both parties.

 

Despite this progress in our redevelopment negotiations, the timing of additional financial support from our partners may come too late, in the absence of another party willing to support the Conservancy or assume responsibility for the vessel at this time.

 

If donors or investors step forward by the end of the month who are ready, willing, and able to help the Conservancy, America’s Flagship could still be saved. However, if progress toward a new sales option or an infusion of funds does not occur by October 31, 2015, we will have no choice but to negotiate the sale of the ship to a responsible U.S.-based recycler.

 

“Given the lead time required to broker the vessel’s potential sale, we believe it would be irresponsible to delay the start of this contingency planning.

 

“Choosing to explore these options was a gut-wrenching decision for the Board, but the Conservancy simply cannot exhaust all of its funds, leaving the organization in debt or with no resources to support its curatorial and education mission.

 

“We remain deeply committed to honoring the legacy of the SS United States through our curatorial and educational programs, and we will continue to prioritize this important work.

 

We take our responsibility to our supporters and to the Conservancy’s mission very seriously, which is why we believe that despite recent progress and potentially positive scenarios, this course of action is necessary.

 

The sale of the vessel to a recycler is by no means inevitable. We remain hopeful that our developers can continue to advance their efforts or that additional financial support will be found in time.

 

“The SS United States is a unique and endangered historic landmark that has captivated the imagination of millions. We are determined to do everything possible during these final weeks to try to save her.

 

“The SS United States supporters from across the country and around the world have become like family. We have worked together against the odds to keep the nation’s last remaining and greatest ocean liner safely afloat. The ship has faced previous dangers and has withstood them, and we hope she can beat the odds again. Anything less would be, as Walter Cronkite once said, “a crime against history.”

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Friends of the S.S. United States Send Out a Last S.O.S. October 7.2015 – The New York Times

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in The New York Times. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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The story behind that massive ship across from IKEA: Once the fastest in the world, one day you might party there September 23, 2015 – BILLYPENN.COM

 

The SS United States was recently featured on BILLYPENN.COM as part of their ongoing “Secret Philly” series. In addition to a general history of the Big U, the SS United States Conservancy is highlighted for its ongoing work to save the ship.

You can read the full article here.

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We invite you to join us for a very special evening on October 29 at the historic Union League in Philadelphia. (Note that this event was originally scheduled for September 17.)
We are planning to recreate an evening aboard the SS United States, complete with a premier performance of original music in honor of the ship, special food and drink offerings, dancing, and more.

Corporate Sponsorship Brochure is now available with a variety of great sponsorship incentives. We are asking our members to circulate these brochures with interested parties!

Standard admission tickets are also now available for order on our website or via mail order. Be sure to RSVP and order your tickets today!

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