I was saddened to read that Crystal Cruises have abandoned their plans to renovate the SS United States and return her to her former glory as a passenger ship.
In February 2016, Crystal and the SS United States Conservancy announced they had entered into an exclusive option agreement with the goal of converting the iconic 1952 vessel into a modern, luxury cruise ship that would comply with all modern safety and technical standards. “Unfortunately, the hurdles that would face us when trying to bring a 65-year-old vessel up to modern safety, design and international regulatory compliance have proven just too great to clear in both a technically and commercially responsible manner,” said Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez.
Led by retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tim Sullivan, Crystal’s team of maritime experts and engineers conducted numerous assessments on the ship in the Port of Philadelphia, where it has been docked for 20 years. The evaluation and testing included in-depth assessments of the ship’s structural condition, underwater inspections of the hull by divers, the examination of her fuel and salt water ballasting tanks, and a series of intensive engineering studies to deduce what would be needed to bring her back into service. According to Crystal, the technical feasibility study regrettably concluded that while the ship is remarkably intact and structurally sound, modifying the ship for today’s standards for oceangoing service (SOLAS) would require significant changes to the hull that would pose stability challenges. As a show of support for the vessel, Crystal said it will be making a significant donation of $350,000 to aid in the Conservancy’s ongoing mission to save the ship. The Conservancy intends to resume its pursuit of stationary redevelopment opportunities.
It is vitally important that such an historic vessel as the SS United States is preserved for future generations. I remember seeing her not long after she won the Blue Riband and her modern style and speed were very impressive. We have lost too many ships that should have formed an important part of our heritage. Let us hope that The SS United States survives.