Efforts to Save the SS United States - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Efforts to Save the SS United States

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PHILADELPHIA- Just north of Delmarva, an American icon is sitting forgotten and forlorn along the Delaware River in Philadelphia.  Her story has faded from the public consciousness, but the story of this record breaking American ocean liner lives on the in the memories of many here on the peninsula.

The SS United States was once the pride of the nation, ferrying celebrities, world leaders, and even some Delmarva locals at high speed across the Atlantic.  Today, she has been left to rust, but a group is trying their best to save the United States.

Compare the gleaming red white and blue ship of 1952 to the empty hull floating silently at dock 62 years later.  The United States has been docked in Philadelphia for more than 17 years.  In 1967, a 10-year-old girl from Dorchester County, Md., uidentified as Janet Livingston, was aboard ship on a voyage to La Harve in France.  She remembers it like any child would.

"It was really an amazing boat.  But there was a teen club for older kids, and there was a daycare for younger kids.  And I had never been anywhere where you could just eat all you could eat, including candy and cakes, and so it was really amazing at ten years old." said Livingston.

But like many, Livingston lost track of the ship, not knowing that just a few years later, the United States was mothballed when the jetliner came along, later gutted, and finally towed to Philadelphia.  The restaurants, clubs, and staterooms, all removed.  To Al Lawing of Easton, a collector of the ship's artifacts, it's a heartbreaking sight.

"It was such a prize and a beauty when it was operating.  And it was pride, it was the pride of the American people.  You'd just hate to see it go to the scrap pile.  You've lost it forever then." said Lawing.

Even to this day, the United States holds the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing.  Just to give you a few of the numbers behind the United States, she's one hundred feet longer than the Titanic at 990 feet, which adds up to 53,000 tons in weight.  All that was powered through the water by four massive steam turbines generating over 240,000 horsepower.  That put her cruising speed at 44 miles per hour, still competitive with speedboats today.

So what will happen to the United States?  Susan Gibbs is executive director of the United States Conservancy, a group trying to redevelop the ship as a convention space.  She has a personal connection to the ship.  Her grandfather, William Francis Gibbs, was the man who designed the ship.

"It's sad, the ship is just crying out for revitalization and to come back.  She's lasted here for 17 years, waiting for this chance to live again." said Gibbs.

The Conservancy has a website where you can donate, it is a nonprofit organization.  Click Here Or Here.

Gibbs said the first goal is to raise $500,000 to help cover the very expensive docking fees, and secure other investors to eventually turn the ship into a multi use complex, restored to her former glory.

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