SS United States: What's the latest news?


Nov 14, 2005
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I agree that you can't you save them all. There are so many fine ships that went to the breakers. But if they can pull off restoring the SS United States I'm all for it. Troop ships were needed at one time but with today's large transport planes you can fly in a battalion in a day instead of weeks at sea. But they might get the govt to kick in if they designate her so.
 

Mike Spooner

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Hi Rob,
You seem to misunderstood me or may be I put it wrong.
I certainty recognise the SS Great Britain ship was way ahead of it time in design and set the new standard how metal plated ships were built for the future. But unfortunately she cost 70% more than plan and just too advanced resulting in a financial disaster for Atlantic crossing with the shipping company Great Weston Steaming Company going bust with her. The second owner Gibbs, Bright & Company took a different point of view and route to Australia, were the original engines throw out for more modern type and added more sails. You could say they are going backwards in technology for economy sake. This were the successful years in making profits for the ship. But after nearly 30 years technology had truly over taken her were she was converted to a sailing ship transported coal. Her final voyage coal to Panama around south America she caught fire and forced to return to Falkland Islands. Were she was beyond economic repairs and turned into a coal bunker storage. Some of her iron was used for repairs HMS Exeter after her engagement with Graf Spee in the Battle of River Plate. Final she was holed and shuttle left to rot and rust away. This are major changes she has been through over the years. The time she is tow back to Bristol on a barge the hull is just a bag of rust full of holes with nothing left what was built internal. She was in a dreadful state.
The ones at Kempton Steam Museum engines were not as old SS Great Britain. But after 93 years those engines are virtually the same with no major changes.
I do appreciate the history of the ship and the importance in the new technology. The amazing job that have done to restore her as was original built. I have visited her over the years from her early days to a few years and can see the progress been made. The costs have well exceeded what Brunel ever dream about. And still a very costly to maintain with the dry air system in operation.
As for my favourite historian ship has to be HMS Warrior. In service 1861 brought terra to the French Navy and never had to fire a gun in anger. Decommission in 1883 built so strong use as oil jetty for years. Final in 1979 restored to her original design not without difficulty. In 1985 a Museum ship in Portsmouth and still a float in sea water. Must be the oldest floating ship in the world.
Back to the topic SS US Liner She may be the pride of American but lacks the history of others!
 
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Jul 9, 2000
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To correct the record a bit, the S.S. United States was not designed as a warship per se, but to serve in a time of war as a very high speed troop transport.

As to any question of her being state of the art, I would submit that she was state of the art for the time. Regarding the propulsion plant, a lot of it's details were literally a state secret for decades, even after the ship had been long out of service but when the details were revealed, it wasn't quite the Starship Enterprise set up some might have expected. It was a very conventional steam plant, essentially the same as a Midway class aircraft carrier, but with some rearranging and with a merchant vessel built around it instead of a warship.

It wasn't very economical but as a ship-of-state, it wasn't really intended to be.
 
A

Aaron_2016

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I believe the SS United States is a symbol of shipbuilding history and her restoration would be very respectful to the past and boost patriotism as she bears the name of the country. On a related note - the restoration of the old steamer 'TS Queen Mary' is looking great.



Launched in 1933.

TSQueen-Mary.png




She was in terrible state the last time I saw her in London.

QM1.png



Looking great now! :)


QM1a.png

QM1b.png



Would make a great photo to see her berthed beside the Waverley and the Nomadic.


.
 
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Platnmz

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Actually, the SS United States was VERY state of the art. She could go faster than 38 knots, was completely fire resistant ( no wood was used except for the grand pianos which were a rare fire resistant mahogany, which was tested by pouring fire on it and trying to start it on fire). It used so much aluminum that the power to weight ratio was the best ever engineered. She was also built with 100% American workers using 100% US made products and at least one thing from each of the 50 states, may not be state of the art, but unique and another source of national pride. As stated before it won the blue ribbon and actually STILL holds it. As Michael stated, the SS United States is the other book end of the grand ocean liner era. Her service was only 16 years because air planes ended the grand old ladies era, let's not forget the Normandie (7 years), SS Rex (12 years) and a few other ocean liners that were considered some of the greatest that had short life spans. Her story is very important in world maritime history. Was she as luxerious as other ocean liners, that's all subjective, just as what ship was the largest, fastest, it's a matter of what generation they were. In addition, during the last inspection done by Crystal Cruises, I believe, and they found that the hull thickness had only lost a fraction of it's original thickness, which they considered remarkable, given her age and condition. One other fun fact, besides all of the US presidents, forgein Royalties and celebrities to travel on her, the Mona Lisa also took a trip. The SS United States is a very under rated ocean liner.
 
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Platnmz

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Nov 17, 2017
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I believe the SS United States is a symbol of shipbuilding history and her restoration would be very respectful to the past and boost patriotism as she bears the name of the country. On a related note - the restoration of the old steamer 'TS Queen Mary' is looking great.



Launched in 1933.

View attachment 43044



She was in terrible state the last time I saw her in London.

View attachment 43048


Looking great now! :)


View attachment 43046
View attachment 43047


Would make a great photo to see her berthed beside the Waverley and the Nomadic.


.
Thanks a lot for sharing these, I think it's amazing they restored her. I'd love to visit her and take a tour some day.
 

Mike Spooner

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Sep 21, 2017
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Hi, You guys across the pond.
You may help me with a mystery of SS US Liner.
When I was working in Montreal Canada in the sixty I meet a Scotsman who claims worked on the two Queens liner engines.
He was ask to work on the SS US Liner after her record breaking crossing as she had the same type of engines as the Queens made under license by Westinghouse.
The reason for his working on the SS US Liner after her record breaking crossings she had pushed too hard without running in the brand new engines, and severely damage her prop shafts and engine bearings! Any true in this?
 
A

Aaron_2016

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Soon after the maiden voyage the New York Times reported the following headline articles:

USnews.png


Perhaps the engines were pushed too far during her maiden voyage and the owners decided it was best 'not to attempt another dash' for the rest of the year. Not sure if that was a normal attitude for all brand new ships, or if there was a serious problem developing with the SS United States and they did not want to repeat what happened during her maiden voyage? One can only guess why. Also the announcement of her captain being replaced so soon after that report might be just a coincidence, or it could be the result of the company asking the captain to retire because he pushed the engines too far on her maiden voyage. She was a passenger liner. Perhaps the captain was treating her like a world war battle cruiser and demanded too much from the engines on her maiden voyage?
 
Dec 27, 2017
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Or perhaps the more prosaic answer may be the enormous expense in fuel of running the ship flat out wasn't justified given the passenger loadings? Plus the wear and tear on the ships structure and cosmetic finishes (not unusual for the bow paint to be stripped off during high speed runs).

I think the power plant was more than capable of sustaining multiple high speed runs if someone would pay the fuel costs.......

Roger
 

Mike Spooner

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Actually, the SS United States was VERY state of the art. She could go faster than 38 knots, was completely fire resistant ( no wood was used except for the grand pianos which were a rare fire resistant mahogany, which was tested by pouring fire on it and trying to start it on fire). It used so much aluminum that the power to weight ratio was the best ever engineered. She was also built with 100% American workers using 100% US made products and at least one thing from each of the 50 states, may not be state of the art, but unique and another source of national pride. As stated before it won the blue ribbon and actually STILL holds it. As Michael stated, the SS United States is the other book end of the grand ocean liner era. Her service was only 16 years because air planes ended the grand old ladies era, let's not forget the Normandie (7 years), SS Rex (12 years) and a few other ocean liners that were considered some of the greatest that had short life spans. Her story is very important in world maritime history. Was she as luxerious as other ocean liners, that's all subjective, just as what ship was the largest, fastest, it's a matter of what generation they were. In addition, during the last inspection done by Crystal Cruises, I believe, and they found that the hull thickness had only lost a fraction of it's original thickness, which they considered remarkable, given her age and condition. One other fun fact, besides all of the US presidents, forgein Royalties and celebrities to travel on her, the Mona Lisa also took a trip. The SS United States is a very under rated ocean liner.
was completely fire resistant!
No ship is. You may reduce the risk like the grand piano. But the single biggest risk to the ship is the amount of oil require for the boilers.
I don't have the figures for US liner but looking at Queen Mary figure must be similar. Mary burns 1100 - 1500 tons per day. If four da
 

Tim Aldrich

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Jan 26, 2018
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The reason for his working on the SS US Liner after her record breaking crossings she had pushed too hard without running in the brand new engines, and severely damage her prop shafts and engine bearings! Any true in this?
They were turbine engines, not reciprocating engines. The whole "running an engine in" really only applied to the older reciprocating engines.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Woops a computer an error my reply was too quick of the mark!
was completely fire resistant!
No ship is. You may reduce the risk like the grand piano. But the single biggest risk to the ship is the amount of oil require for the boilers.
I don't have the figures for US liner but as a guide line looking at Queen Mary figure must be similar. Mary burns 1100 - 1500 tons per day. Four days 96 hours at average speed 1300 tons per day 12,800 tons. However if ones looks at Titanic coal bunker capacity 6,610 tons. That enough for a return crossing for commercial optional reason if the coal is cheaper one side of the Atlantic. Also cover them self if there is strike one side of the Atlantic to. So that could be double like 26,000 tons! Serious amount of oil if that goes up no chance to save the ship.
Then there is the bedding materials like mattress and linen. Cloths, fat in foods and cooking heat for your meals!
Aluminum top ship may have great saving in weight, but there are draw backs which at the time didn't not came to life. First aluminum and steel don't mix well know as galvanic corrosion. The expansion rate in heat between the two metal are different coursing friction between the two surfaces.
Land Rover 4X4 vehicles will suffer the same problem.
Then there is the fire risk. Aluminum may not catch fire but the melting temperature between the two is a lot lower for Aluminum at 1200f and steel 2800f. A hard lesson will be learn here.
In 1975 US frigate Belknap crash into aircraft carrier John F Kennedy. The frigate deck melted and the gun turret fell through in great danger of coursing a second fire with electrical wiring and other burning materials. Even a harder lesson will come in the Falkland Island war. Were British war ships with aluminum tops are hit with missiles. The aluminum melted and collapsed on to electrical wiring system set the ship the a lite and sunk. As the war ships with steel tops hit with missiles would serve. The new built US frigate or destroyers are now steel tops!
As much the SS US Liner is the pride of American citizens and should be too. But there come time in life were nations have to let go. Not easy agree as Briton had to let go the Mauritania and Aquitania. Aquitania what an mazing ship she was, 36 years of service. Served two World Wars. France and Italy faced the same problem.
When see the U tube film of US Liner she is truly gutted and stripped out internally on her passenger decks. I don't know the state of her engines are in. I know the propeller blades on Mary were removed and sold off as souvenir items, help to recover some of the running costs.
I have one myself with a certificate to prove is the real thing. (I hope so?)
The running cost for US I see at $60,000 per month. How long will that last for? The longer they leave it the worst it will get. Next year 50 years of rotting away.
I am truly grateful for the Americans in save the Queen Mary from the scrap yard. Even though the ship is full of American history in transporting many thousands of solders to liberate Europe from the hands of the Nazis. I have an interest my self As sail on her 1966.The roughest sea crossing I have ever experienced. What a ship she was. Sea sick? O yes! An ambition to see her again and stay in the hotel.
 

Platnmz

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Nov 17, 2017
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I will agree that no ship is fire PROOF, but fire resistant is quite different. If you go to "Specifications of the SS UNITED STATES liner", it list's off all of the meaures taken to make the SS United States fire resistant. These included the use of marinite, aluminum furniture, treated fabrics, no wood used in construction, fire resistant paints and much more. I agree with you that if your running engines and cooking food, there are fires already present in the ship, the goal of Gibbs the designer, was to ensure there wouldn't be a catastrophic failure or loss of life due to a fire. Every ship has counter measures in place to handle fires, but Gibbs just went to a whole new level with it.
 

Mike Spooner

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Thanks for the reply and the useful information on specification of SS US Liner. Cruse for 12 days without refueling. Wow that's a serious amount of oil! The only thing missing is fuel consumption. As I have taken a figure from Queen Mary 1100-1500 tons per day. I can see from the external measure figures they had the old Panama locks in mind.
Seeing the U tube film I am surprise that nobody has tried to nick that lovey 5 bladed propeller of the deck!
 

Mike Spooner

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They were turbine engines, not reciprocating engines. The whole "running an engine in" really only applied to the older reciprocating engines.

I would agree the turbines don't need the same mount of run-in as a piston reciprocating engine. But never less a careful check on the prop shafts and thrust bearing blocks are required for signs of over heating on a brand new ship.
 

Platnmz

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Thanks for the reply and the useful information on specification of SS US Liner. Cruse for 12 days without refueling. Wow that's a serious amount of oil! The only thing missing is fuel consumption. As I have taken a figure from Queen Mary 1100-1500 tons per day. I can see from the external measure figures they had the old Panama locks in mind.
Seeing the U tube film I am surprise that nobody has tried to nick that lovey 5 bladed propeller of the deck!
No problem, I've been a huge student of the 'Olympic' class liners and just recently started to expand to other ships. My father in law sailed on the SS United States when he was a kid (he's been I love with it since), so I've been learning a lot about it. It amazing to me just how unique all of the ocean liners are, and the design and engineering that went into them.
 

Rancor

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For anyone who hasn't seen them yet there is a good series on youtube of the ship being explored.

Other parts are linked in the video. Part 5 is the tour of the engine and boiler rooms but it's quite dark and hard to figure out exactly what you're looking at.

Would be lovely to see her properly restored and preserved, but it sure seems like it would be a Herculean task. I wish all involved the best of luck.
 

Mike Spooner

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Yes I have seen that U tube and what a sad site she is in. Like I have said before The Americans should be proud of such a fine ship indeed. But at the end of the day it's history capture that interest of the human race. Her 16 years of service with no major drama, and no doubt she had drama that would of added a lot more interest to the ship. She has now spent 50 years quietly rotting away. As to the younger generation she must look a wright eye scorn and not to be proud she is American. As tuff as it like other nations like Briton, Germany, France and Italy all had to face the same problem and had to let them go to the breakers yard.
That too not the end of the world as they are recycled in some thing that can be reused again. The ship name is never forgotten.
Now if I not mistake it was the Americans who killed of the ship! By a American company call BOEINGS who brought out the 747 jumbo jet aircraft!
What intrigues me the ship second role could be used to transport 15,000 military personal! If the Queen Mary was to transport a record breaking of over 16,000 soldiers in the war years. Yet when you see the films there are packed in like sardines. The Mary 50% bigger were would all those 15,000 go? Lifeboats perhaps!
 

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