The S/S United States is 17 stories high, weighs 59,000 tons and stretches nearly 1,000 feet - 110 feet longer than the Titanic. The Big "U" first sailed from New York on July 3, 1952 on a trans-atlantic crossing to England. She made her crossing 10 hours faster than the prior record which had been set by the Queen Mary in 1938.
She made over 400 trans-atlantic crossings until She was "retired" in 1969 - a victim of much faster, and much cheaper, air travel.
Cost estimates to return the S.S. United States to seaworthy condition have been estimated to be well in excess of $250 million. Many supporters held out hope that the ship could at least be relocated and docked permanently as a hotel or visitor attraction.
Much to everyone's surprise, a buyer has come forward and the future now looks bright for this once great ship. We offer the following press release from Norwegian Cruise Line, Limited.
Official Press Release - Norwegian Cruise LineNorwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced on April 14, 2003 that 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."