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NAME

SS. UNITED STATES

CLASS

LINER

LAUNCHED

JUNE 23rd 1951

BUILT

NEWPORT NEWS SHIPBUILDING / VIRGINIA / AMERICA

WEIGHT

53,329 TONS

LENGTH

990 FEET

WIDTH

101 FEET

SPEED

35 KNOTS

PROPELLERS

4 - 27 TON - 18 FEET DIAMETER

ENGINES

4 - GEARED STEAM TURBINES - 240,000 HP


Following the success of Cunard’s two queens during the war as troopships, the United States Government subsidized the building of a large liner for the United States Line. Part of the agreement for the building of this ship was that it could be easily converted to a troopship in times of war. The United States Line commissioned William Francis Gibbs to design their new ship. He used steel, glass and aluminum instead of the more traditional decorative wood so the risk of fire could be kept to a minimum, as so many large liners before had been lost to fire. Gibbs had to design the United States with a width less than 106 feet so she could use the Panama Canal. The canal locks were designed to take the largest ships being built at that time, the Olympic class liners that began entering service in 1910.

SS United States


The United States was fitted with massive turbines designed for aircraft carriers. These extraordinarily powerful engines made her by far the fastest liner ever built. With the capacity to carry 913 1st, 558 2nd and 537 3rd class passengers, she set out on her maiden voyage from New York - Southampton July 3rd 1952. The United States arrived at Bishop’s Rock 3 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes later, setting a new record by averaged 35.59 knots. That crossing took 10 hours and two minutes off the 14-year-old record held by Cunard’s Queen Mary. The United States captured the Blue Riband on her return westbound journey, a record she still holds in 2003 with a crossing of 3 days, 12 hours and 12 minutes, averaging 34.51 knots.

The United States and the 33,500-ton America competed against the two Cunard queens for the ever-decreasing Trans Atlantic trade. By the early 1960s, jet aircraft were crossing the Atlantic in 8 hours at a speed of 500 knots. The United States began running at a loss at that time and by the late 1960s, had used up more than $100 million in government subsidies. This led to America’s finest liner being laid up in 1969 after only 18 years in service.

SS. United States
SS. United States laid up at Philadelphia in 2006, Large Image.

United States Cruises INC bought the Untied States in 1978 with plans to convert her to a luxury cruise liner. With that venture failing after the new owners were forced into bankruptcy, US Marshals confiscated the abandoned United States in 1992 so they could sell her to the highest bidder. The Commodore cruise line bought the United States at that time with the intentions of having Cunard operate her on the Atlantic run alongside their 65,863-ton QE2. Before that role could begin, Commodore had her towed to Istanbul/Turkey for a major overhaul to be carried out. With estimates for the overhaul rising and the lack of government subsidies, that project had to be cancelled as well. The failure of the Commodore venture has seen the United States laid up at the Navy Yard/Philadelphia since 1996. She was placed on the national register of historic places in 1999. The SS United States Conservancy reportedly bought the ship in July 2010 so work on her restoration is expected to start soon. She may be berthed at Philadelphia or New York to serve as a Museum and Hotel.



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