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"Big U" Update

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Sadly it looks like she will go to a breaker.


Those advocating she be moved to Brooklyn for restoration, she has been in Philly longer than she sailed out of New York. Although it has not been a very active or pleasant stay for sure.


There are several free drydocks about a half a mile down river at the Old Philly Navy Yard. I think that would be an appropriate place to retore her. I also think she would look Grand at Penn's Landing, but those folks are in the process of trying to get rid of the Olympia.


We Americans do not do a great job of preserviving and honoring our history. It saddens me greatly to see these great old ships just rust away into oblivion.

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The hulk is a rotting mass of rust. There is no interior left. The engine rooms and boiler rooms have been stripped of usable components to keep other ships running. There is nothing left except a hull and some parts of the machinery. A friend, whose father actually did the take offs at Newport News when the United States was being built, did a survey of the hulk for a potential buyer a few years ago. He found the hull was unsound to the point where it cannot pass Coast Guard inspection. Now if anyone has a vested interest in keeping this ship afloat, it would be him.


The time to have saved this ship was before 1975. It was mostly intact and the hull had not rotted out. It is way too late now.


This is most unfortunate, but there comes a point in the life of any vessel where it no longer makes any sense to restore it. The restoration is more like a replica. Let her go to the breaker's yard in peace.



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I also think she would look Grand at Penn's Landing, but those folks are in the process of trying to get rid of the Olympia.


The United States would make a great centerpiece for Philadelphia's Penn's Landing which seems to be a black hole for economic development. Very unlikely at this point.


I'm also saddened about the Seaport Museum's decision to attempt the sale of Cruiser Olympia because of economics. It's hard to imagine Philadelphia's waterfront without her.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

The SS United States Conservancy is planning a celebration in honor of the 58th anniversary of the record breaking maiden voyage of the ship. The organization, dedicated to the preservation of our national flagship, promises "important updates" about progress achieved by the group, partners and key supporters.


The event, Thursday, July 1st at the Columbus Commons (at Ikea) on Columbus Boulevard (across the street from the ship) in south Philadelphia will include music and light refreshments, the lighting of the ship's distinctive funnels and an outdoor showing of the documentary "SS United States: Lady in Waiting." It begins at 7pm. Music will be provided by "Jimmy and the Parrots" and the band will perform its tribute to the ship "Symbol of America."



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Thanks for posting this Steve. If weather is okay, I think I am going to try to make it to this!!! Now.....if only I can find my SS United States charm bracelet, I will wear that to the event!!!




Cool, hope to see you there! The bracelet sounds like a true keeper. ;)

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Some notes on tonight's event...


Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will throw the switch to light the funnels at 8:30.


The SS United States Conservancy is said to be in talks with a third party to save the ship from breakers. An announcement is expected tonight.


Organizers urge those in attendance to bring lawn chairs to the outdoor event in the Ikea parking lot.


Clear skies are in the forecast for tonight. :)



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A Philadelphia philanthropist is making a multimillion-dollar effort to save a South Philadelphia landmark from the scrap heap.

Billionaire Gerry Lenfest is donating $5.8 million — three million to buy the once-proud cruise ship SS United States from Norwegian Cruise Lines and the rest to outfit the ship for its next use.


Dan McSweeney is executive director of the SS United States Conservancy, formed six years ago to save the world’s fasted ocean liner from being scuttled:


“We think it a great use of his generosity because we see this as a practical effort and also a symbolic gesture. This is a patriotic thing we are doing here, and it’s very fitting on the July 4th weekend that we are able to announce this.”


An anniversary party celebrating 58 years since America’s flagship made its maiden voyage will be held tonight in South Philadelphia.


Built in 1952, the SS United States remained in continuous transatlantic passenger service until 1969 and still holds the transatlantic speed record.

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Please contact NCL and demand that they sell the United States to the conservancy that will save her, rather than the scrapyards of Hong Kong!


SS-United-States-ship.jpgMaybe they have given up on the idea that they can make any money out of her, but there is no excuse for the shoddy way that they are treating this once great lady.






NCL Corporate Headquarters:






Mailing Address


NCL Corporation Ltd.

7665 Corporate Center Drive

Miami, Florida 33126


Hours of Operation


Mon-Fri: 8:30am-5:00pm EST

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Just returned from the Conservancy event in south Philadelphia and there was a HUGE crowd.


Philanthropist Gerry Lenfest spoke and said there is much work to be done. His generous donation will at least for now, save the ship from the breakers. Tens of millions will have to be raised if the dream of converting the ship into a hotel/museum is realized. Also, the ship will undergo stringent environmental related checks.


The Conservancy is the lone bidder for the ship, and they hope to finalize the sale by February. It's my understanding NCL could not have sold the ship to a non US bid.


While I understand the disappointment over NCL not returning the United States to cruising, I also know how impractical the endeavor would have been given the line's history with SS Norway. NCL has paid tens of thousands of dollars per month for her Philadelphia docking and the line saved her from being broken years ago.


The ship obviously has many fans as witnessed at tonight's event. Now the real work begins and it's hoped the Big U will find a fitting home as a waterfront attraction in Philadelphia or New York.

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I wasn't able to make the event last night. :(


Do you have any photos, Steve?




Forgot my camera and my Blackberry doesn't have one but there are some pics here..




It was quite a celebration, with live music, free cheesesteaks, burgers, hot dogs and other refreshments. The Conservancy sold a ton of t-shirts and caps. I was surprised there was no admission fee to the tents. There was a VIP tour aboard the ship before the event but sadly there is not much to see.

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I was suggesting that she might be RESTORED for use as a STATIONARY tourist attraction in Brooklyn.


Good call Stan and Jim.


Wall Street Journal piece:




"Against the odds, a small band of ship preservationists has nosed out scrappers with an agreement to buy the historic ocean liner—and perhaps turn it into a stationary waterfront hotel or multi-use development.... The group is working with architectural firms, developers and city officials on plans to convert the "Big U," as they nickname it, into a hotel or development in Philadelphia or New York."

Edited by Friscorays
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An opinion piece published by the Philadelphia Inquirer makes some compelling local arguments to keep the liner in Philadelphia.




It would be more cost effective for the Conservancy and could be the centerpiece of a revitalized Penn's Landing waterfront.


Philly would be great but I would gladly visit her in New York too. :)

Edited by Philly Steve
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  • 1 month later...
The "New York Times" has published an interesting write on efforts to save the SS United States, along with other historic ships docked in Philadelphia.




wow..that is shocking about the New Jersey..I was under the impression that when it was restored and made a museum that it was "saved".:(


Just heard about the Olympia being in danger on the news this week.

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  • 2 months later...

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the SS United States Conservancy is reaching out to investors of the long stalled Foxwoods Casino project to use the legendary liner for a gaming resort on the Delaware River at Philadelphia.


The ship would be towed less than a mile to an existing pier and would be positioned next to a new 10-story parking garage.


Foxwoods is under the gun to complete plans for its new casino before a December 10th Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board deadline. As of this post, there has been no response from primary investor Harrah's. The Conservancy says the ship could be open for business by mid 2013.





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Yes, she needs to come "home" one last time!



Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.



In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.



Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.



It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Living in Central NJ for me either Philly or NYC would be ideal to see the ship. However, I think I perfer Philly and here's why.


- Too many other attractions to compete against in NYC


- Casino/hotel in Philly vs. a hotel in NYC I think will ultimately be more profitable to keep the ship afloat.


- Fresh water is ultimately better long term for the hull


- America's Flagship in the birthplace of the Amercia




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