S.S. United States


The United States was the last offical holder* of the presigous Blue Riband (Given to the ship for the fastest transatlantic crossing). She was designed by the lawyer turned Naval architect, William Francis Gibbs whose fondness for fire engines was deeply wrapped up in the design of the "Big U" as it was dubbed by loyal passengers.

In order for the United States Lines to obtain enough money to build the ship, she was designed to serve a dual purpose that interested the U.S. government. It was such that the United States with the idea that one could convert her into a troopship overnight. Designed in cooperation with the United States Navy and was built with absolute secrecy. In fact, when the United States Lines displayed a model of the United States at their New York City headquarters, everything below the waterline was hidden and it was not revealed until many years later that her top speed during trials was 38 knots! An astounding speed for ship of her size. It was theorized that she could push 44 knots, but that the vibrations would damage the ship.

During her maiden voyage on July 3, 1952 she easily broke the eastbound record, and the westbound on her return snatching the Blue Riband from the Queen Mary. Her speed attracted many people away from the stately Cunard Queens.

However the speed of the United States speed was only one of her benefits. Gibbs had designed the United States to be as fireproof as possible. No wood was found on board, save for some cutting boards in the kitchen and her grand pianos (They were only allowed after it was proven they weren't flammable). The ship was covered in asbestos and the decks were covered with a fireproof teak substance called Neotex. There were also fireproof doors through out the ship, each with a little flap that allowed a fire hose to pass thorough.

Alas, she was in service for only 17 years. The 1960s saw the twilight of the North Atlantic passenger trade with the growth of the airline industry, however, the United States also had to face growing labor disputes. It was on October 25, 1969 that a scheduled cruise was cancelled and she went into a early overhaul that was never finshed (Her funnels were only repainted on her port side prior to being laid up) as she was then mothballed at the Norfolk's International Terminal for many years before being bought. and towed to Turkey to have her asbestos stripped. Afterwards, she was sent to Philadelphia where she remains the "largest abandonded vehicle in the city." Thankfully, there are efforts being made to restore her to her former glory.


Specifications

  • Owner: United States Lines
  • Length: 990 feet
  • Tonnage: 53,329
  • Built By: Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, Newport News, Virginia


Trivia

  • No foreign interests can purchase the United States due to her significance to the military (This is amazing considering the condition she's in).
  • During her service, curious people could look for a buxom mermaid, etched into a glass panel in the smoking room.
  • She is the largest private passenger carrying vessel ever built in the United States.

* A speedboat holds the record for the fastest westbound crossing, but to give the award to that vessel is an insult to the award.


Sources

http://www.pier90.org/main.htm<
http://www.ss-united-states.com/
http://www.travelpage.com/cruise/ships/us_ustates.htm

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