SS United States Philadelphia Harbor


Ryan Thompson

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Dec 6, 2005
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This is a satelite photo I got from Google Earth of the SS United States sitting in Philadelphia Harbor. Its been there since the 1990s. It wasn't hard to find it, all I had to do was scroll around since the ship is so big. I heard Norwegian Cruise Lines has bought the ship and plans to restore it but as far as I know they haven't moved it yet. This photo is probably between 1 and two years old.


http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c142/ragemanchoo/ssunitedstates.jpg

[Moderator's Note: Moved from "General Titanica," where originally posted. MAB]
 

Steve Olguin

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Mar 31, 2005
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Its about 2 years old because the land thats being developed now has a Home Depot, an Ikea and other Urban discount stores...

Great find.
 
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Wayne Keen

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I used that for wall paper for a time.

happy.gif


Wayne
 

Ryan Thompson

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Dec 6, 2005
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The land = The nearby shore, right?

I looked at the Queen Mary on Google Earth, too. Does anybody know where the QM2 lives when its not in service (i.e. being repaired or cleaned)?
 
Jul 11, 2001
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Ryan, The QM2 can be seen if you go to NewYork on GoogleEarth. She is shown at the pier just north of the Aircraft carrier Intrepid.

At least it was there when I looked this morning (Tuesday the 27th.)
 
Apr 27, 2005
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My friend Tim Darnell offered permission for me to post this picture of the old girl as he caught her last week in Philly. Tim is actually a rail buff, but I felt that those who aren't familiar with the "United States" might get an impression of how big the ship truly is compared to a locomotive, and considering the stacks are probably a mile distant in this picture.
111618.jpg
 
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Linda Sherlock

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Wow! What a great photo. Thanks for sharing it, Richard and thank your friend too.
 
Apr 16, 2006
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Great picture!

The ship IS still in Philidelphia. Whether NCL will restore her or not, who knows. Probably not.

Google Earth is great another thing you can see is the wreck of the America/American Star.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Whether NCL will restore her or not, who knows. Probably not.<<

I would bet on the "Probably not" option. The United States is really little more then a stripped out gutted shell and it doesn't take a Mensa Society luminary to note that preservation hasn't been much of a priority. Unless NCL has taken some aggressive steps to seal the ship up and provide cathodic protection, the condition of the hull and machinary is probably marginal at best.
 
Apr 16, 2006
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I do not believe they will restore her. This whole project where they are supposedly testing her to see if she is fit for the job, has gone on about four years. And if they disposed of the Norway who had much less repairs needing to be done and was much larger, why would they restore the United States?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>And if they disposed of the Norway who had much less repairs needing to be done and was much larger, why would they restore the United States?<<

In one word: Prestige.

The United States is one of the very few classic liners which still survives to the present day and having a Bule Ribband winner can mean quite a lot in terms of bragging rights.

Having said that much, I don't think it'll be cost effective in the long haul. The ship isn't even habitable, much less seaworthy and to make her so would require a very long time in dock for a major (Read that to mean "Majorly Ex$pen$ive") refit. The hull is almost as bare as the day she was launched save prehaps for the machinary which is still in place and that would probably have to be replaced with diesels to make the ship reasonably economical to operate. I'd love to be proven wrong, but I don't see this happening.
 
Apr 27, 2005
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Prestige. I was thinking "cache". She's the last of her species, so she carries an amazing amount of "good thoughts, images, etc." Operating her as a cruise ship is not really practical. If NCL ever decided to run a North America-Europe transAtlantic service, this would be the ship to run. Hands down, if you wanted to experience the great era again, "United States" would be the ship to run. New engines, new interiors, same colors and deck arrangements. I think it's unlikely, but then why would NCL pour so much cash into her purchase to begin with? Scrapping her directly would be a public relations disaster. Maintaining her is a simply bleeding money from the corporation. This is a puzzlement!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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The world of public relations, shipping and the law can be nothing if not a quagmire of conflicting interests. Public relations is not...in and of itself...much of a reason to keep the United States as an asset. Especially since the ship herself is in such a state that she can hardly be called much of an asset. However, there may well be some legal reasons for keeping her and it helps to know that the United States is an American built hull.

If Erik Wood or David Brown happens to be looking in, I'm sure they can explain it better then I can.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Michael -- in brief, to be eligible to fly the U.S. flag and carry cargo/passengers in coastal trade a vessel must be U.S. built, U.S. owned, and have U.S. licensed officers. If a ship is "sold foreign," it loses its U.S. flag status and can no longer carry cargo/passengers between ports of the United States without "going foreign" by making one or more stops in overseas ports.

There are few "cabotage" routes along the U.S. coastline for cruise ships. If the S.S. United States were sold foreign and were to lose its U.S. flag status, there would be few problems for the new owners. Most major cruising routes involve several stops in foreign countries before returning to the U.S. port where the passengers embarked. However, being able to use a lower-cost foreign crew would bring definite economic benefits in the cruising trade. There would also be some benefit in not being forced to deal with the strict U.S. Coast Guard inspection procedures.

I suspect that the only reason the ship remains in being is that it is more expensive to scrap than to let sit. The concept of the S.S. United States was out of date when the ship was laid down. It was really a fast troop transport which could be configured as a passenger liner whenever peace broke out. By the 1950s, missiles and jet bombers had changed the way wars would be fought. But, following the great tradition of always preparing to fight the last war, the S.S. United States was constructed to haul troops to a European land conflict. They might as well have pierced its sides and put in a broadside of muzzle-loading cannons. The whole idea was as passe as spats and bustles.

As a passenger liner, the ship must have had a prodigious appetite. Speed = Money. The oversize power plant to make the ship fast enough to transport troops had to be fed on each and every passenger crossing. $$$$Slurp, I can hear the profits being sucked through the fuel pipe.

So, what's rusting at quayside is nothing more than a reminder of bad planning and bad decisions tempered with bravado. The future is never bright for such projects. In my view, the ship as a relic is detrimental to the beautiful ocean greyhound of the 1950s. Scrap the junk and save the memories. The money from the steel might be donated to charity--like a home for the children of unwed sailors.

-- David G. Brown
 
Dec 2, 2000
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What's rusting away at the quayside is probably no longer even remotely seaworthy even as a floating mass.

On being more expensive to scrap then leave tied to the waterfront, I'm beginning to wonder if that might not come back to haunt NCL at some point. (As in springs a leak and sinks at the pier!) I've seen how warships are laid up for long term preservation and none of these steps have been taken with the United States. If it one time they had been, they have long since fallen into neglect.

I think what some of this speaks to is that there is nothing realistic in the way of how to deal with the disposal and dismantlement of old worn out or obsolete ships. It just can't be done without some unacceptable costs being imposed on the owners. Sooner or later, the people who write the laws are going to have to seriously rethink the way the regulations are written before the hundreds of hulls tied up in some of our ports and backwaters start to cause some real problems.

What I'm wondering is what NCL was really thinking when the bought the ship in the first place. The poor material condition of the United States isn't exactly a secret, nor are the cost issues with running the machinary should they pull a rabbit out of the hat and bring the ship back into service. Either their decision makers were

a) blind to reality and brain dead on a breathtaking level, or

b) there was some legal advantage to having the ship on their list of assets.

I'm beginning to think the correct choice may well have been option (a).
 

Joe Russo

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Apr 10, 2006
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Isn't it also true that this ship's interior contains no large open areas because of the US Military's fear of fires? I've heard that even the 1st Class dining room was broken up into several smaller rooms. Doesn't sound like a good selling point for cruisers these days.
 

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