Harbored in the waters of the Delaware River lays the abandoned yet slowly conserved SS United States in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Boarding close to New Jersey in the stretches of the 419 mile long river you can see the remains of 45,400 ton ocean liner. Still structurally sound due to it being built by the skillful hands of William Francis Gibbs. Plans for this ‘Big Ship’ were underway as early as the late 1930’s but World War I and World War II delayed design and construction.
During the wars, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth liners were converted into troop ships. The US government saw potential value in this new trans-Atlantic liner and subsided a large portion of the building costs for the SS United States. This was done with the intent of summoning the ship to war if needed. It was the first major liner to be constructed in a dry dock. The design of the vessel was done following strict Navy regulations; with dual engine rooms in case something went wrong and austere compartmentalization to work against flooding.
Measuring a length of 990 feet, it is 100 feet longer than the Titanic! There were 23 public rooms, 14 first class suites and 395 staterooms. It was built entirely almost free of wood, except for the fireproof pianos and the wooden butchers blocks in the kitchen. Even the fabrics and textiles used were fire resilient. The galley at its highest turn out could put out 9,000 meals a day.
On July 3rd of 1952, it set out on its maiden voyage. There were 500 pounds of caviar and 7,935 quarts of ice ream on board when it set sail.
The highest service speed the massive liner went was 36 knots (41 miles) an hour. It had 247,785 horse power engine that its all aluminum build allowed for it to use at full advantage. It had 4 propellers; 2 4-blade and 2 5-blade. Each are now on display at a different museums. 3 are in New York and 1 is in Virginia.
Salvadore Dali, Marilyn Monroe, Sean Connery, Duke Ellington, Marlon Brando, Bob Hope, Princess Grace of Monaco, Rita Hayworth, Judy Garland, Walter Cronkite, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, a young Bill Clinton, John Wayne, Coco Chanel, Walt Disney and presidents Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower are just some of the passengers of the SS United States in its prime. It was used in the films; Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, Bon Voyage! and Munster, Go Home!
With the decline of trans-Atlantic ship travel in favor of airline flights the SS United States was removed from service in 1969. Right after its docking it was hermetically sealed to prevent damage by the US Navy in case there was a rise for it to be deployed.
In 1978, it was listed for sale and went through 4 owners, the last being Norwegian Cruise Line in 2009. Norwegian put it up for bids to scrappers and by 2010 the conservancy has been calling for the saving of the ship through funds by private sponsors and donations from the public. Future plans include everything from a museum to a hotel and shops and much much more.
You can learn so much more about America’s Ship and information about its conservation here.
Where is the SS United States located? You can find it with these coordinates. 39.918485, -75.136559.
Images gathered from Google Maps.