The SS United States – A Spectacular Monument Waiting To Happen

By: Chris Law

Arriving for a recent vessel survey in Philadelphia, PA with my colleague Wayne Thomas, we found ourselves pulling up to a pier alongside the laid-up SS United States. After completing the survey, we had the chance to walk the pier and admire this imposing vessel, capturing this image.

For a vessel with such rich heritage, still retaining the Blue Riband trophy for the fastest passenger vessel across the Atlantic (in both directions), it seems a little unbefitting to see her in her current state following retirement from service in 1969 and subsequent lay-up at Pier 82, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1996.

Since the late 1970’s we have worked with a number of investment groups on attempts to return the vessel to service. Unfortunately,

the vessel’s design simply does not fit the large passenger ship trade as it developed after the demise of the trans-Atlantic passenger liner trade.

Still, there is hope for this majestic vessel. Currently owned by the SS United States Conservancy, (, a non-profit independent organization. The Owner’s aim is to raise public and private finance to refurbish the vessel as a “self-sustaining waterfront attraction”.  As part of this campaign, it is possible to purchase a square inch of a “digital” version of the vessel ( or simply to donate to the campaign.

Having briefly walked the dock, admired her lines and experienced an atmospheric sense of maritime heritage and nostalgia, it is clear what a spectacular monument to passenger ship-building history a refurbished and restored SS United States would become.