Iconic liner SS United States may move to New York

The SS United States, which still holds the record for the fastest passenger ship crossing of the Atlantic, is docked at Pier 82.
The SS United States, which still holds the record for the fastest passenger ship crossing of the Atlantic, is docked at Pier 82. (Inquirer, file)
Posted: July 20, 2014

After 18 years of rusting away at Pier 82 in South Philadelphia, the iconic SS United States could be brought back to life - but in New York, officials confirmed Friday.

"Currently, the negotiations that are most promising would place the ship in New York," Susan Gibbs, executive chair of the SS United States Conservancy and the granddaughter of the ship's designer, Philadelphia native William Francis Gibbs, said in an e-mail. "We do expect that the ship will survive, but only if we continue to galvanize further support and build on the powerful momentum now underway."

Her note also said that a deal could be signed within months, but that the vessel would not be moving any time soon.

The conservancy has been struggling to raise money to keep the United States from being scrapped, and has cited the 990-foot vessel's maintenance costs of $80,000 a month.

To meet some of those costs, the conservancy sold one of its six massive propellers to a recycling company, and was preparing to sell another propeller last month until a benefactor, Jim Pollin of the Pollin Group, gave the conservancy $220,000 to halt the sale.

During a news conference on the vessel June 17, Dan McSweeney, managing director of the SS United States Redevelopment Project, vaguely described plans to tow the ship to New York to be part of a waterfront redevelopment project.

"Our team in New York is engaged in negotiations for the redevelopment of the site in Brooklyn and Manhattan," McSweeney said. "We are on the cusp of success on a very long and trying journey."

He declined to give details, saying the conservancy would announce specifics by the end of July.

He could not be reached Friday.

For its maiden voyage in 1952, the United States broke the world record for a passenger ship crossing the Atlantic in three days, 10 hours, and 40 minutes. The record still stands.

Prior to retiring in 1969, the United States carried, among other celebrities, Marilyn Monroe, Walter Cronkite, Duke Ellington, and Grace Kelly, as well as four U.S. presidents.


LONeal@phillynews.com

215-854-2619 @LydsONeal

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