- Historic luxury passenger liner that ferried presidents, superstars and royalty between America and Europe heading for junkyard
- The SS United States powers through the water in her heyday
- Marilyn Monroe, JFK and the Mona Lisa all enjoyed the luxurious Atlantic crossing provided by the Titanic-sized SS United States.
- As for the USA… no sense of history… a nightmarish cabal of Wall Street and Washington DC.
But the famed liner, which still holds the speed record for a crossing between the US and Britain by a passenger ship, now faces its final journey – to the scrapyard.
The SS United States Conservancy organisation can no longer afford the $60,000 a month it costs to dock the ship on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, where it rests, empty and rusting.
The group had planned to turn the ship, which is nicknamed the Big U, into a real estate development for New York’s waterfront, which was once the ship’s home, but no investors have yet come forward.
Problem is … no buyers.
A cruise aboard the SS UNITED STATES…
Unless that changes by the end of this month, the group said, “we will have no choice but to negotiate the sale of the ship to a responsible recycler”.
Susan Gibbs, executive director of SS United States Conservancy, told theNew York Times that the decision to seek bids from scrapyards was “excruciating”
“We’ve never been closer to saving the SS United States, and we’ve never been closer to losing her,” she said.
In its heyday it boasted three orchestras on board and a stellar list of passengers including four American presidents: Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and a young Bill Clinton on his way to study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
Other notable passengers include Monroe, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne, Marlon Brando, Salvador Dali, Coco Chanel, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and the list goes on. The ship featured in Monroe’s hit film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Marilyn Monroe at sea in the classic comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Photo: Rex
Built largely using aluminum to make it lighter and faster, the SS United States is just 101 feet wide — just thin enough to be able to pass through the locks of the Panama Canal with two feet of clearance on either side.
She made her maiden voyage on July 3, 1952, crossing the Atlantic from the Ambrose lightship at New York Harbor to Bishop Rock off Cornwall.
She shattered the transatlantic speed record held by the Queen Mary for the previous 14 years, making the crossing in 3 days, 10 hours, 40 minutes at an average speed of 35.59 knots.
However, the advent of passengers jets and commercial airlines meant the age of the passenger liner died out in the 1960s, and the SS United States was retired in 1969.
It has been a battle to keep her afloat ever since.