Today is the age of giant cruise ships and the golden age of ocean liners is long gone. Two ships in the United States moored up that stand as reminders of this time of luxury Titantic-like transatlantic travel are the RMS Queen Mary and "America's Flagship" the SS United States.
Today the RMS Queen Mary is a hotel and attraction in California (currently closed for restoration). While the SS United States is languishing and rusting on the Delaware River in Philidelphia. Preservation efforts are ongoing to restore the ship and make it once again a proud American attraction.
Early Years And Records
The SS United States was built between 1950 and 1951 and remains the largest ocean liner ever to be constructed entirely within the United States. She was built for the United States Lines and holds the record for being the fastest ocean liner to ever cross the Atlantic (in both directions).
- Built: 1950-51
- Largest: Largest Ocean Liner To Have Been Built In The United States
- Fastest: The Fastest Ocean Liner To Cross The Atlantic
- 100 Feet: Longer Than The RMS Titanic
The SS United States was able to maintain the record for fastest transatlantic speed ever since her maiden voyage.
She was even designed so that she could be converted into a troopship if the Navy required her in time of war. She went on to maintain an uninterrupted transatlantic passenger service scheduled until 1969.
The Decline of Ocean Liners and Retirement
As the SS United States was laid down, a new era was on the horizon and by the 1970s transatlantic passenger aircraft were taking over from traditional ocean liners. She was sold several times since the 1970s with each new owner failing in returning her to profit.
Today the RMS Queen Mary 2 is the last ocean liner left in active service and continues to keep the age of transatlantic ocean liners alive. She is the last ocean liner still in service around the world as the vast majority have long since been retired.
- RMS Queen Mary 2: The Last Ocean Liner Left In-Service (Also The Second Largest Passenger Ship To have Ever Been Built)
In the end, the SS United States' fittings were sold at an auction, and her hazardous wastes (like asbestos) were stripped out of her. By 1994 she was completely stripped. Around 1996 she was towed to Pier 82 on the Delaware River in Philadelphia and has languished there ever since.
- Stripped: The SS United States Was Stripped Down in 1994
- Moored: At Pier 82 On The Delaware River in Philadelphia
Subsequent Preservation Efforts
Today efforts are being made to preserve the record-breaking ocean liner that is the namesake of the United States. Since 2009 the SS United States Conservancy has been trying to raise the funds to preserve the ship.
- SS United States Conservancy: The Preservation Group Trying To Preserve The Ship
The group purchased the ship in 2011 but none of their plans for restoring the ship have been realized.
Things looked bleak for the SS United States in 2015 as funds were running out and the preservation group started to accept bids to scrap the ship. This, however, didn't happen as sufficient donations were gathered to keep her berthed and keep her hopes at eventual restoration alive.
- Scrapping: The SS United States Was Nearly Scrapped In 2015
If one visits the incredible Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in NYC one can find one of her four-bladed propellers on display mounted at the entrance to the museum. She had four other 60,000 manganese bronze propellers and two screws outboard and two inboards.
- Propellers: Stripped from The Ship And Are On Display In Museums
Her other propellers can be found on display on other sites around the country including the grounds of the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and near the waterfront at SUNY Maritime College in Fort Schuyler, New York.
Latest Preservation Plan
According to the SS United States Conservancy, the latest proposed plan is for her to be part of a large real-estate project. The project is in the New York Tri-State area and the developer is RXR Realty. On 10 March 2020, it was announced that:
"...the vessel will be repurposed as a permanently-moored floating structure anchored by a hotel program and a collection of unique hospitality and cultural spaces in the 600,000 square feet available for development. Those offerings would include a world class museum honoring the ship’s history and exploring mid-century design, art and innovation."
There have not been any further updates on the website since then, it is not clear if this latest plan is finally bearing fruit or not.