Following the success of Cunard’s two Queens
during the War as Troopships, the United States
Government subsidized the building of this 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
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 / Titianic class Liners
that began entering service in 1910.
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 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 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
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 led to the
United States being laid up at the Navy
Yard / Philadelphia in 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, inteding to have her Restored,
so she could be berthed at Philadelphia or New York
to serve as a Museum and Hotel. This venture is
currently low on Funds.