Nicknamed the “Big U,” the SS United States entered service as a Transatlantic Liner on 3rd July 1952 and operated until 14th November 1969. She is seen above leaving Southampton in 1967.
Since then the ship has been laid up and currently resides in Philadelphia, as seen above. after many proposals to use the ship in a static or sea going role, Crystal Cruises announced on 4th February in New York that, together with the SS United States Conservancy, Crystal will save “America’s Flagship,” and embark on the enormous undertaking of bringing the ship into compliance with the latest standards, and returning her to oceangoing service. During the announcement, made at a press conference at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York City, Crystal also committed to covering all costs associated with preserving the ship while undertaking a technical feasibility study, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
In order to meet modern demands and be in full regulatory compliance, the SS United States will have to be extensively re-built to meet over 60 years of new maritime rules and shipbuilding practices. The modern United States by Crystal Cruises will be transformed into an 800- guest-capacity vessel, featuring 400 luxurious suites measuring about 350 square feet with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities that are true to the ship’s history.
Features of the original SS United States such as the Promenade and Navajo Lounge will be retained, while new engines and sophisticated marine technology will be installed to maintain her title as the fastest cruise vessel in the world. The 53,330gt ship has stood idle for almost 47 years so Crystal’s plans appear to be quite an incredible step in this day and age, and considering the hash made of the QE2 since her sale out of the Cunard fleet.
Crystal will be examining exciting new itineraries for the United States by Crystal Cruises (her revised name for now at least) including not only the traditional transatlantic voyages from New York City, but cruises from key U.S. ports as well as international voyages around the globe which are a signature offering of Crystal. She remains the largest passenger ship ever designed and built in America. To facilitate the complex technical feasibility study and to ensure a smooth execution of the project, Crystal has appointed retired U.S. Coast guard rear admiral Tim Sullivan to build and lead a team with a wide range of cruise line technical, legal and regulatory expertise.
With 36 years of active service, Admiral Sullivan has extensive experience in ship operations as a Commanding officer of numerous Coast Guard Cutters, and over the years has engaged in a high level of interaction with a myriad of U.S. government agencies and international regulatory entities. The Conservancy will continue to expand its curatorial and archival collections as it advances its mission of educating the public about the SS United States’ history. The organisation will work with Crystal to establish shipboard displays and other educational programs.
Planning is also underway for a land based museum dedicated to preserving the legacy of America’s Flagship along with broader design, innovation, and discovery themes. The museum will feature a wide range of original artefacts and historic components from the ship’s heyday.