Tuesday, February 1, 2011

American History Still Afloat

I’m not a big nautical history buff and, though I have an appreciation for our nation’s history, neither would I be considered a huge American history addict either. But when it comes to beautiful old ocean liners or cruise ships that are wasting away, it pains me that a large chunk of “history” has been rusting in the Delaware River while awaiting a tow to a scrap yard.

As a long time veteran of the travel industry with a particular affection toward cruising, it saddens me each time I pass the SS United States as it’s been slowly rotting away in Philadelphia since her latest owner, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), towed it there in 1996.

The SS United States was the flagship for the United States Lines in the ‘50s and early ‘60s. She is one of the few passenger ships built in the U.S., is the largest ocean liner ever built in our country and is the fastest ocean liner ever built. The U.S. government underwrote a large portion of the building costs of the SS United States as she was intended to be able to be converted to a troopship for war if necessary. The Navy specs included interesting features of speed and war-participation survival, most of which was classified information.

She was sold to another cruise line in 1964 and was withdrawn from passenger service in 1969. Over the decades, she has sat through suggestions, rumors and failed plans which included casino, hotel, timeshare, hospital ship and cruise ship. The costs for reviving her were so great that she was scheduled to be scrapped.

I was thrilled to read in today’s Delaware County Daily Times that the SS United States Conservancy has been able to purchase the ship. They have 20 months to work with her redevelopment plans and raise funds for her restoration while she continues to be berthed here at Penn’s Landing. The article peaked my interest and I found a lot of information online about her history. I’ve barely covered her amazing story and encourage you to “google” her for more information.

The future of this ship is not secure, but let’s hope that this amazing historical lady does have a bright future and that she will again be seen in her glory while entertaining the public and providing employment.

~ Connie

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