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SS United States to ride again - Woo-Hoo!!

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Old 04-15-2003, 09:25 AM
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SS United States to ride again - Woo-Hoo!!

This is great news!:

Cruise Line to Restore Relic Ship

By DAVID B. CARUSO
The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 15, 2003; 1:21 AM

PHILADELPHIA - An ocean liner that was the biggest and fastest ever built in the United States, and a symbol of national prestige until it was left to rot on the Philadelphia waterfront, may soon sail again.

Norwegian Cruise Lines said Monday it has purchased the SS United States, and intends to refurbish it and return it to service, a half-century after the massive steamship set a speed record for a trans-Atlantic crossing.

The announcement astounded preservation groups, who had been fighting what looked like a losing battle to rescue the boat from being scrapped.

"I'm stunned," said Susan Gibbs, the granddaughter of the ship's designer, shipbuilder William Francis Gibbs. "The last several years, the news has all been bleak. It has all been rumors about scrapping, and one failed venture after another."

For years, the SS United States has been a ghostly sight on the Philadelphia waterfront. Seemingly abandoned on an unused wharf, the rusting hulk was little more than a bizarre curiosity for sports fans on their way to the city's sports arenas.

Underneath the peeling paint, though, lay a rich history.

On its maiden voyage in 1952, the powerful liner and its 268,000 shaft horsepower engines set a new trans-Atlantic speed record: 3 days, 10 hours and 42 minutes. That record stood until 1990.

The ship was big, too - at 990 feet, it was 108 feet longer than the Titanic.

And even though the vessel was designed to be converted into a troop transport in times of war, it carried numerous celebrities in more than 800 Atlantic crossings. Its passengers included Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, President Kennedy and England's King Edward VIII. Bill Clinton took it on his way to Oxford University in 1968.

Air travel finally did the big boat in. It was decommissioned in 1969, and was briefly stored at ports in Virginia, Turkey and Ukraine before docking in Philadelphia in 1996.

Norwegian Cruise Lines spokeswoman Susan Robison wouldn't say how much the company had paid for the ship, which had been owned by a New Jersey firm, Cantor Companies. Messages left at Cantor's offices were not returned Monday.

Robison also declined to say how much it might cost to refurbish the boat. Previous estimates had been between $200 million and $500 million - figures that had frightened off potential buyers for years.

The ship was gutted in the mid 1990s and its interior will probably need to be redesigned to compete with modern-day cruise ships, Robison said.

Fans of the ship, though, said its torpedo-resistant hull is undamaged and that it could be made seaworthy again.

"She just needs to be sandblasted and rewired and she can sail," said Robert Hudson Westover, 39, chairman of the SS United States Foundation, a group that has been lobbying for the ship's preservation.

"I'm just giddy," he said. "Saving the SS United States is equivalent to saving one of the great engineering wonders of the world."

Norwegian Cruise Lines also purchased and refurbished the "France" in the 1990's. Fortunately, they re-named it the "Norway". Hope they don't re-name the United States.
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Old 04-15-2003, 09:34 AM
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I thought that ship was loooong gone.
Never knew she was resting (rusting?) in Phily.

It'll be good to see her out on the ocean again. I know a few other old liners have been refurbished and returned to service, but can they compete with the super sized cruise ships being built today?
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Old 04-15-2003, 09:42 AM
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That's good news. It's nice to see pieces of floating history getting the attention they deserve. I'm sure it will make a fine vessel once again.
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Old 04-15-2003, 09:51 AM
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Also when cruising the Delaware it won't look like a ghost ship. There is so many abandoned boats & docks along the river it sometimes gives you an ere feeling
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Old 04-15-2003, 09:57 AM
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Found a few pics of her in present state......sad.
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Old 04-15-2003, 10:00 AM
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another....
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Old 04-15-2003, 10:12 AM
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I live 10 minutes from the ship now in Philly and I can tell you it is ONE HUGE PILE OF SCRAP METAL. I was on it a few years back. It would pay for them to just build an exact looking replica of it. The time and money that would be spent on restoring it is crazy.

I was told the ship was stripped over in Turkey than they stopped making payments on it so they repo'ed the boat, and it sat in Va. for a few years now it sits in Philly. I actualy have a few original items from the boat my uncle gave me from when he sailed it years ago.


BUT!
If they do restore it, I say we book an OSO cruise?
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Old 04-15-2003, 10:16 AM
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The neat thing about this whole deal is that it will be very much a US-based operation despite NCL's ownership. NCL is in the process of building up a 5-ship, US-built, US-flagged fleet, manned by Americans. This is apparently necessary if they intend to cruise without leaving US waters (coastal cruises, Hawaii, etc.). They have also purchased a Hawaii-based, US-built ship, the Independence as part of this same program.

Here's more from www.ncl.com:

Norwegian Cruise Line Acquires U.S. Flagship S/S United States

Company to Build on New U.S.-flag Operation

Miami, April 14 - Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced today it has purchased the S/S United States, one of the country's most venerable ships built in the glory days of trans-Atlantic sea travel. NCL intends to convert the vessel to a state-of-the art, modern cruise ship and to add her to NCL's planned US flagged fleet. A relaunched S/S United States will add more than 1,000 American maritime jobs and 5,000 shoreside jobs to the 3,000 maritime jobs and 17,000 shoreside jobs that NCL's US flag initiative with Project America is predicted to generate.

Widely considered to be the greatest superliner ever built in this country, the S/S United States was engineered to be faster, safer and more technologically advanced than anything else afloat when she was christened. To this day, her Atlantic crossing record has never been matched and she remains the holder of the fabled Blue Riband.

Knowing that S/S United States faced an uncertain future, NCL moved swiftly to purchase the vessel. NCL is now evaluating options for use of the ship under US flag and determining the extent of renovations needed to convert her to a state-of-the-art, modern cruise ship that will appeal to today's vacationer. The ship is expected to offer mainland US itineraries where cruise products are not currently available. The refurbishment of the hull and superstructure will be done at US shipyards with the outfitting completed overseas. NCL is no stranger to such conversions, having converted the fabled North Atlantic liner the S/S France into cruising's first Caribbean megaship, S/S Norway.

"When we discovered this American icon was in jeopardy, we saw a unique opportunity and acted immediately. The ship is a classic, she was built in America and is eligible to operate in domestic service under existing law and regulation," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "The S/S United States would be a phenomenal addition to our US flag operation down the road. We remain focused on completing Project America and successfully introducing our innovative US flag cruise ships in Hawaii, but we will now organize a project team to work with US yards, naval engineers and architects to develop plans for what should be the fourth vessel in our US flagged fleet."

The announcement comes on the heels of NCL's recent commitment to begin a US flag operation in Hawaii. A new federal law will allow NCL to complete the stalled Project America as a US flagged and US manned operation for inter-island Hawaii cruise service. NCL purchased the partially completed first Project America ship and substantial materials and related components for the second Project America ship from Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS) in September 2002. The legislative initiative was designed to recover the US investment in Project America, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and tax receipts, and creating more than 20,000 US jobs.

On her maiden voyage, the S/S United States set an unbroken record by crossing the North Atlantic Ocean in 3 days, 10 hours and 42 minutes. Her service speed exceeded 35 knots and she was rumored to be capable of 50 knots. Designed by William Francis Gibbs, the ship is the longest passenger vessel ever built in the United States, at 990'6", was considered an engineering marvel at the time, and held a near perfect operating schedule.

NCL also announced today the purchase of another classic, American-built ship, the S/S Independence, which until October 2001 was sailing in the Hawaii trade but which was a victim of its owner's post-September 11th bankruptcy. NCL purchased the vessel at federal auction from the US Maritime Administration saving her from almost certain scrapping. The potential addition of the S/S Independence as a fifth vessel in NCL's US flag operation is being evaluated.

Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the modern cruise industry beginning in 1966 with the first dedicated cruise ships in the Caribbean and is recognized for innovation in the industry, most recently with its popular Freestyle Cruising concept. NCL also has a history of developing creative itineraries as the first company to acquire its own Caribbean island, with the development of the 7-day Hawaii/Fanning Island itinerary, and now with its Homeland Cruising program, where 13 North American port cities host NCL ships.

....I've already sent in my request for a suite on the inaugural cruise......
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Old 04-15-2003, 10:22 AM
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COOL DUDE!

Where have they been under a rock? It's been sitting for over 10 years.


I seen a story on the history channel about water speed and it had a spot on this ship. The ship that holds the record, It really seemed to be a huge cruiser not a ocean liner it was a joke how they could compare the 2.
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Old 04-15-2003, 10:23 AM
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That makes my day!!!! I sailed from Brussels to NY on the USS United States in the summer of 1966 when I was 7 years old. Now I can do it again when I'm 47.

Thanks for the find C-Spray.
PS. After spending an hour in a batboat in Daytona, I'm a believer.
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