After carrying out a six-month evaluation, the luxury cruise ship operator Crystal Cruises has announced that it has dropped plans to relaunch the SS United States.
Launched in 1952, the SS United States was the fastest ocean liner ever built. The liner has been docked in Port of Philadelphia for the past 20 years.
In February 2016, Crystal Cruises and the SS United States Conservancy publicly announced that they had plans to convert the iconic ocean liner into a modern, luxurious cruise ship which would comply with modern safety requirements. Crystal Cruises stated it would conduct an in-depth feasibility study costing more than $1 million. Although expensive, doing so the cruise line no doubt also gained valuable publicity.
Whilst the SS United States is accordingly structurally intact, the task of returning the ship to her seagoing state would have been overwhelmingly challenging. Although the project to relaunch the ship has been dropped, Crystal Cruises has said it will be making a donation of $350,000 to the SS United States Conservancy.
“Our company has great affection for this historic and irreplaceable vessel, and we will be making a $350,000 donation which will help support the Conservancy preserve the vessel through the remainder of the year,” said Edie Rodriguez, President and COO of Crystal. “We firmly believe the SS United States is an American treasure and deserves to be preserved and redeveloped as a stationary destination for future generations to experience and enjoy.”
Numerous assessments and studies of the ship were conducted by Crystal Cruises’ team of maritime experts, led by retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral, Tim Sullivan. According to Crystal Cruises, the technical feasibility study showed that while the ship is structurally sound, modifying the ship to meet today’s SOLAS regulations would have required significant alterations to the hull, posing stability challenges. Furthermore, installing a modern propulsion system would have required alterations to the existing shaft lines and rebuilding around 25 percent of the hull in order to reconfigure the twin shaft and twin rudder arrangement.
“While it has been determined that Crystal’s exciting vision for the ship would have required overcoming various technical hurdles and major changes to her historic design, the studies performed have confirmed the ship is structurally sound,” said Susan Gibbs, Executive Director of the SS United States Conservancy. “America’s Flagship continues to hold enormous potential as a stationary mixed-use development and museum in New York or another urban waterfront setting. The SS United States Conservancy remains deeply committed to saving this unique and powerful symbol of the nation’s strength, history, and innovation.”