SS United States Conservancy and Crystal Cruises have announced they will save “America’s flagship,” the SS United States. The ship is to be brought into compliance with the latest standards and returned to oceangoing service.
Crystal will create new itineraries for the 60,000-gross-ton United States including a traditional trans-Atlantic voyages from New York and cruises from key U.S. ports, as well as international voyages.
The SS United States was launched in 1952 and captured the trans-Atlantic speed record on its maiden voyage — a record that still stands. It remains the largest passenger ship ever designed and built in America. Before its retirement in 1969, the SS United States was the most glamorous and elegant ship in the world, having transported four U.S. presidents, international royalty, many of Hollywood’s “golden era” celebrities, as well as a million passengers.
The ship was designed as part of a top-secret Pentagon program during the Cold War, which stipulated it could be quickly converted from a luxury liner into a naval troop ship in the event of a war, carrying 15,000 troops with a 240,000 shaft horsepower propulsion plant capable of traveling 10,000 nautical miles — almost halfway around the globe — without refueling.
In order to meet modern demands and be in full regulatory compliance, the SS United States will have to be extensively rebuilt 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 in line with 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 its title as the fastest cruise vessel in the world.
Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez said: “The prospect of revitalizing the SS United States and re-establishing her as ‘America’s flagship’ once again is a thrilling one. It will be a very challenging undertaking, but we are determined to apply the dedication and innovation that has always been the ship’s hallmark. We are honored to work with the SS United States Conservancy and government agencies in exploring the technical feasibility study so we can ultimately embark on the journey of transforming her into a sophisticated luxury cruise liner for the modern era.”
“Crystal’s ambitious vision for the SS United States will ensure our nation’s flagship is once again a global ambassador for the highest standards of American innovation, quality and design,” said Susan Gibbs, executive director of the SS United States Conservancy and granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs. We are thrilled that the SS United States is now poised to make a triumphant return to sea and that the ship’s historical legacy will continue to intrigue and inspire a new generation.”