SS United States


In Her Glory Days


Today

I recorded a PBS show on the SS United States. It was very good. The SS United States was the largest ocean liner built here in the US and was a spectacular ship. It was built in 1952. It was 990 feet long and 101.5 feet across. It weighed in at 53,290 tons. (It was larger in all dimensions than the famed Titanic.) The ship could do over 40 knots, with 240,000 combined horsepower. She was the fastest ocean liner of her day and still holds the record for the fastest westbound Atlantic crossing.

I've seen this ship. It's sitting at a dock in Philadelphia. It's in a sad state. But even in her bad condition, you could see that she's a beautiful ship.

As the PBS show mentioned, Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis is in the Smithsonian and Eli Whitney's cotton gin is preserved, but this magnificent ship rusts away. There is hope: Norwegian Cruise Lines purchased it in 2002 and has stated plans to refurbish it and return it to service, perhaps by 2010. It's an enormous and expensive project, and with the recent fuel increases and economic problems, who knows if it will really happen? I hope it does.

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