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Friends of the S.S. United States Send Out a Last S.O.S (nytimes.com)
26 points by rswier on Oct 9, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments



I thought the ship had been saved when the current nonprofit bought her. Apparently not.

Although the interiors were stripped long ago to remove asbestos, the power plants are in reasonably good shape.

The S.S. United States was the fastest transatlantic liner ever built - England to US in about 3 1/2 days. She was built with some Government funding with the potential to be used as a troop carrier. This included warship-like features, such as more bulkheads and watertight doors than most passenger ships, heavy fireproofing (no wood except the piano and the butcher's block), multiple engine rooms, and a warship-like hull and propulsion plant. If the US needed to get an army somewhere in a hurry, the ship was ready.

That's why conversion to a cruise ship didn't work out. Norwegian Lines considered it. But cruise ships today look like Vegas hotels built on barges, with huge interior open spaces, swimming pools, water slides, casinos, shopping malls, etc. The SS United States was built for speed and survivability, not recreation.


A boat is "a hole in the water, into which you throw money", so a big boat is a big hole in which you throw lots of money.

I don't know this ship, but given that it was built around 1950, chances are that the builders used asbestos for isolation.

That means that, even if the ship were new, it would cost millions to make it suitable for almost any use.

For an example, see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Rotterdam. The English page doesn't say it, but restoration of that ship to its original state cost over €100M.


The asbestos was stripped in the '90s, so that problem has gone. I'm quite sure there are all kinds of other nasties there though.

Maybe Paul Allen will get involved. He likes large boats and has the capital to finance a refurbishment.


> "In the 1990s, she was towed to Ukraine to be stripped of asbestos."


Perhaps Donald Trump could make it his presidential yacht.

I find such ships fascinating, but also sad in that many of them are floating superfund cleanup sites. Restoring one is something a billionaire might do on a whim but since such ships became impractical commercially, their eventual fate was decided.


Heh, before seeing the (nytimes.com) and clicking through to RTFA, I half expected this to be an over-the-top, hyperbole filled article about NSA surveillance or draconian copyright law.


I thought it was going to be an article complaining about the US Navy's tendency to give up cool names in favour of naming ships after politicians who voted to give more money to the Navy, but I was thinking of the USS America. (Which was, I believe, the proposed name for one of the new Ford-class carriers until they decided to name it after a politician and stick the "USS America" label on a lesser ship.)


It is frustrating that this beautiful ship is relatively unknown considering the fascination with all things Titanic. http://www.ssusc.org/ Surely Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos could free up a few million from petty cash.


I live in South Philadelphia and have to look at this eyesore all the time.

Bill and Jeff should spend the money on helping the sick and the starving and skip the boat.

Philadelphia should invest in things that make the waterfront more accessible and encourage a recovery of the natural flora and fauna.


It's quite strange to say that private individuals should spend their personal money on social causes instead of whatever projects they prefer, while the city should spend taxpayers' money on your pet beautification and ecology projects.


You think it's contradictory to say that private individuals and cities should both fund public-benefit causes?

Come on, man. That's not even coherent. If you get mad when people tell other people how to spend their money, just say so.


Nice strawman. Let me explain like you're five:

A) Waterfront improvements are somewhat more socially important than saving the ship. But helping the sick and starving is massively more socially important than both.

B) Public bodies such as the city of Philadelphia have a much stronger obligation to focus on socially important causes than do private citizens.

C) However, frankrizzo was imposing a much stronger condition on private citizens ("no ship while the sick and starving are suffering!") than on the city ("let's make the waterfront prettier!" "but what about the sick and starving?" "sssh, don't worry about that"). This violates either A or B. Since A and B are commonly held beliefs, C is strange.


What I find incoherent is the OP's implication that saving a historic icon means neglecting the sick and starving. I suppose the Eiffel tower should also be left to rust away.




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