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Re: Save the S. S. UNITED STATES!

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  • usaseapower
    Scrap history? Save our ship!
    Message 1 of 7 , Mar 4, 2010
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      Scrap history? Save our ship!

      New York Post article excerpt, March 4, 2010, photo of the stern of the ship dockside in Philadelphia: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/scrap_history_save_our_ship_oSUErZWu3xkx8jhKjBIVBL

      At the very heart of the Canyon of Heroes, on Broadway between Wall and Pine streets, a black granite strip embedded in the sidewalk commemorates a once-famous New York tickertape parade.

      The marker describes what was then, and remains today, a monumental maritime achievement: the shattering of the Queen Mary's standing transatlantic speed record by America's great national flagship, the SS United States.

      The speeds she achieved on that maiden voyage in 1952 have never been equaled by a passenger ship, and SS United States' captain, engineer and crew were rightly honored by thousands of New Yorkers -- proud Americans who came out to celebrate our country's indisputable leadership on the high seas...

      There's more to life than money. Americans from all walks of life need to rally around this national icon and breathe new life into her fading red, white and blue funnels. She still has vast potential as a stationary attraction, generating jobs and stimulating tourism while teaching future generations of Americans about the greatness that enabled this 990-foot marvel to break that speed record.

      In these divided and difficult times, let's return this ship to a place of dignity -- and, in so doing, start to develop some unity again.

      ______________________________________________

      Yahoo Group Forum for all things SS UNITED STATES:

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheSSUnitedStatesGroup

      "This forum was created for the sole purpose of exchanging artifact information, history, ideas for the future, news and stories pertaining to the SS United States. With the widespread availability of outlets for ocean liners online this site will keep the focus on the United States and what can be done to enlighten her history and focus on her future.

      We would like for this forum to be a gathering point of narratives about the vessel. Former crew, passengers and United States Lines employees as well as enthusiasts, builders and designers are encouraged to share their recollections about the vessel. Members are also urged to share their photos and collections with the group as well to spur further discussion and understanding of the ship.

      This effort to create a forum tailored to the United States is to keep her achievements alive in the public eye and ways we as enthusiasts can help create a future for her. We want to build this group into the online source for all things SS United States.

      We welcome everyone and encourage active participation and suggestions on how to improve the group. Please join us in this voyage of celebration, discovery and enlightenment of this great ship, SS United States.

      The SS United States Group Moderators"
       
      PS The site has a informative Links Page, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheSSUnitedStatesGroup/links

      _____________________________________________

      The Conservancy has put out this fundraising video - great shots of the ship: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgI8B5iKV2c

      _____________________________________________

      --- In PMMC-NLUS@yahoogroups.com, "Pacific Merchant Marine Council" <pmmc@...> wrote:
      "The Conservancy has launched a new "Save Our Ship" (SOS) national campaign. It is offering a "Plank Owner" certificate for tax-deductible donations of at least $25 via its new donor website: www.ssusplankowner.org. "
      _______________________________________________________
      Let it hereby be known, the Navy League of the United States Pacific Merchant Marine Council as of this date is a "Plank Owner" to save the SS UNITED STATES. We stand with the SS United States Conservancy! Saving her is both patriotic and emotional. She is simply too grand a lady to be unceremoniously sold for scrap.

      Unless I hear serious objection, the Pacific Merchant Marine Council membership will vote at our March 15 luncheon meeting to "adopt" her just like we adopted our beloved National Historic Ship Memorial SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN, 9 July 2007. Visit http://www.ssusplankowner.org and see what an incredible ship she is. She is the most beautiful liner in existence. We can't let her get cut up! 

      Heave Ho,

      Phelps
      Phelps Hobart, President
      Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS

      There are three other council posts on the SS UNITED STATES and one on our adoption of the O'BRIEN...

    • usaseapower
      Coresponding with the SS UNITED STATES Conservancy and others in regards to the adoption. Added five links to our every expanding links page,
      Message 2 of 7 , Mar 7, 2010
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        Coresponding with the SS UNITED STATES Conservancy and others in regards to the adoption.
        Added five links to our every expanding links page,
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PMMC-NLUS/Links:
         
        SS United States Conservancy
        The SS United States Conservancy seeks to preserve and revitalize the SS United States, the largest and fastest ocean liner ever built in her namesake's country. The Conservancy works to ensure that the nation's flagship will endure for future generations as the ultimate expression of the United States Merchant Marine and American transatlantic passenger shipping. News, take action, board, shop, history, donate, stories, contacts, and links.
        http://www.ssunitedstatesconservancy.org/SSUS/Home.html 

        SS United States Conservancy's Latest Update
        SS UNITED STATES blog - latest information. Link to become a plank owner. Events, media releases, links to videos, and more.
        http://ssunitedstatesconservancy.org/SSUS/blog

        SS UNITED STATES Conservancy Fundraising Videa

        SS United States  Conservancy Plank Owner Certificate (Sample)
        http://www.ssusplankowner.org/cert.html

        SS UNITED STATES Yahoo Group Forum
        This forum for exchanging artifact information, history, ideas for the future, news and stories pertaining to the SS United States. The focus is on her history, present state and her future.
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheSSUnitedStatesGroup  
        __________________________________________
        --- In PMMC-NLUS@yahoogroups.com, "Pacific Merchant Marine Council" <pmmc@...> wrote:
        The Conservancy has launched a new "Save Our Ship" (SOS) national campaign. It is offering a "Plank Owner" certificate for tax-deductible donations of at least $25 via its new donor website: www.ssusplankowner.org. "
         _______________________________________________________

        All Hands,
        Let it hereby be known, the Navy League of the United States Pacific Merchant Marine Council as of this date is a "Plank Owner" to save the SS UNITED STATES. We stand with the SS United States Conservancy! Saving her is both patriotic and emotional. She is simply too grand a lady to be unceremoniously sold for scrap.
      • usaseapower
        All Hands, The Conservancy has launched a Save Our Ship (SOS) national campaign. It is offering a Plank Owner certificate for tax-deductible donations of
        Message 3 of 7 , Apr 15, 2010
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          All Hands,

          The Conservancy has launched a "Save Our Ship" (SOS) national campaign. It is offering a "Plank Owner" certificate for tax-deductible donations of at least $25 via its new donor website: www.ssusplankowner.org.

          Let it hereby be known, the Navy League of the United States Pacific Merchant Marine Council as of 3 March 2010 is a "Plank Owner" to save the SS UNITED STATES - $25 from our thin treasurey was sent in. We stand with the SS United States Conservancy! Saving her is both patriotic and emotional. She is simply too grand a lady to be unceremoniously sold for scrap. As a last resort, bury her at sea off the East Coast.

          In addition the Pacific Merchant Marine Council membership voted unamously at our 15 March luncheon meeting to "adopt" her just like we adopted our beloved National Historic Ship Memorial SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN, 9 July 2007. We stand with the SS United States Conservancy! Both the Conservancy's president and executive director have expressed their appreciation of our vote of support. We await the appropriate and opportune time to make the presentation of the adoption certificate. A possibility is early June when I venture east to attend the NLUS Board of Directors meeting.

          Visit http://www.ssusplankowner.org and see what an incredible ship she is. She is the most beautiful liner in existence. We can't let her get cut up!

          Below is some recent news.

          Heave Ho,

          Phelps
          Phelps Hobart, President
          Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS

          PS There are three other council posts on the S. S. UNITED STATES and one on our adoption of the O'BRIEN.

          ____________________________________________

          For the latest on the Big U visit:
          Here is one recent article:

          Murky destiny

          Four decades after its last voyage, the SS United States finds its future in rough waters.

          http://www.southphillyreview.com/news/features/Murky-destiny-89071182.html (Visit this site for the article below and a recent up-close picture of the ship.)

          Docked at Pier 82, the SS United States is in limbo as it awaits its fate.

          The appearance of the SS United States is both its quintessence and distress signal. Stretching 990 feet, yet caked in rust, the ship epitomizes 20th-century ingenuity and 21st-century neglect. Berthed at Pier 82 on the Delaware River, it has resided in South Philadelphia since 1996 and will need immediate good fortune to avoid becoming scrap.

          Since its decommissioning in 1969, the ship has been in aquatic limbo.

          The work of Philadelphia native William Francis Gibbs, the ship has been for sale by the Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line since February 2009. NCL claims that upkeep of the ship costs $800,000 annually. Recently, the line has intensified its search for a buyer, which is likely to be a scrapper. Maritime law mandates that the buyer must be an American entity.

          But the SS United States Conservancy — with roughly 4,000 members and supporters — envisions refitting the ship as possibly a conference center, casino, hotel or museum. The group hopes to raise $3 million to buy the ship and to use the next two years to craft a public/private partnership to raise more funds for its refitting.

          "Our private sector partners would determine the scope of the renovation," Susan Gibbs, board president, said.

          Within the last decade, advocates for the ship have valiantly sought to sustain its existence.

          "I first viewed the ship in 2001," Gibbs, the granddaughter of the ship's architect, said. "It was almost like being in a mausoleum, but I knew that beneath her haggard look, she still had importance."

          The Washington, D.C. resident has found many who share her view of the ship as indicative of an "era of imagination." Through its Save Our Ship campaign, the Conservancy has begun to amass the funds to give its vessel a lifeline. A July 2009 gathering at IKEA, 2206 S. Columbus Blvd., garnered local and regional attention, as did a $300,000 matching grant pledge from H.F. Lenfest, Chairman of the Board of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

          Area politicians have offered their voices to save the ship, which would remain in Philadelphia or venture to New York once restored. City Council President Anna Verna has endorsed the restoration of the ship as a waterfront attraction via a letter of support, while 1st District Councilman Frank DiCicco issued a December 2009 resolution to ensure the ship's survival.

          Time, however, is dwindling. Gibbs expects news by next week. Though hopeful, she said there is some anxiety.

          Historical consultant Steve Ujifusa, who is writing a book on the ship and William Francis Gibbs' vision, also is pushing to save the SS United States.

          "This ship highlights achievements of prior generations. There was a time when even I forgot her contributions. We can't let her disappear." Ujifusa said. "The SS United States is the vision of a brilliant man. It would be a tragedy for it to go."

          With its spectral look, the ship dominates the vista of Columbus Boulevard much like it ruled the Atlantic Ocean's waters from 1952 to '69. On its maiden trek in July '52, the ship set the record for fastest westbound crossing of the Atlantic by traveling from Bishop Rock off the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom to the Lightship Ambrose in New York Harbor in just more than 84 hours. Its speed of roughly 40 miles per hour earned the ship a Blue Riband, a prize for the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic with the highest speed. The record remains intact. Gibbs prays that the ship will, too.

          "The ship is fundamentally and structurally sound. It could still be incredibly useful," Gibbs said.

          In its heyday, the ship never lacked use. "The Big U" required 28 months of construction at a cost of $78 million, most of which the U.S. government underwrote. With the Korean War waging, the government hoped to use the Virginia-made craft as a troopship when necessary, but the liner became somewhat of a cruise ship. It covered nearly three million miles and transported more than a million passengers. Many entertainment icons including Milton Berle, Bob Hope, and Marilyn Monroe used its services, as did Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.

          In its glory days, the ship booked at 90 percent capacity, but increases in air travel, union impasses and rising operating costs signaled its decline. As the largest liner ever designed and constructed in the United States, the ship contains two engine rooms, at least one of which Gibbs hopes to retain.

          New Jersey businessman Edward Cantor receives the credit for bringing the ship to South Philadelphia. From '69 through '96, the ship had stays in Norfolk, Virginia; Turkey; and Ukraine, the last for asbestos removal. In '96, Cantor had it towed to Philadelphia. Knowing its precarious status, the SS United States Preservation Society successfully fought for the ship's placement on the Pennsylvania Register and the National Register of Historic Places in '99. Shortly after Cantor's death in 2002, NCL purchased the liner, hoping to add the ship to NCL America, its American-flagged Hawaiian passenger service. The company, however, chose to use three other vessels, leaving the SS United States in deeper trouble.

          But Gibbs and Ujifusa have tossed out a life preserver in hopes of finding a buyer who provides the ship a renaissance.

        • usaseapower
          Ahoy Again, It s confirmed. On behalf of the council I will be presenting Susan Gibbs, President, SS United States Conservancy, the Pacific Merchant Marine
          Message 4 of 7 , Apr 16, 2010
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            Ahoy Again,

            It's confirmed. On behalf of the council I will be presenting Susan Gibbs, President, SS United States Conservancy, the Pacific Merchant Marine Council's SS United States adoption certificate the morning of June 4th in Arlington Virginia. The occasion is the NLUS Merchant Marine Affairs Committee meeting - one of several during the NLUS Board of Directors meeting, June 2 - 4.

            Committee chairman VAdm. Al Herberger served as a cadet on the Big U during its maiden voyage. He is involved with the Conservancy and once had a conversation with Susan's grandfather William Francis Gibbs, the naval architect and marine engineer who designed the SS United States.

            Council Vice President Don Hale, Council Judge Advocate Edward Dangler, and Member/Advisory Board Member Joseph Giambrone serve with me on the NLUS Merchant Marine Affairs Committee. They will be there plus others. In addition to the framed certificate I will be giving Susan a NLUS Pacific Merchant Marine Council membership and NLUS coin.

            It is going to be quite a convention occasion! All invited!

            Phelps
          • WO Guilherme Freitas, USNSCC
            All Concerned,   Even though there are many ships that are on the list for historical review, I find myself more convinced that the SS United States is
            Message 5 of 7 , Apr 16, 2010
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              All Concerned,
               
              Even though there are many ships that are on the list for historical review, I find myself more convinced that the SS United States is worth preserving.
               
              We have been successful preserving Liberty, Victory, Navy, and other ships and boats, but to my knowledge no major American built passenger ships.
               
              Phelps, have a good trip to the NLUS meeting and keep up the good work!
               
              Cheers!
               
                   Warrant Officer Guilherme Freitas, USNSCC
                   Executive Officer, Arkansas Division
                   Pacific Central Region, United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps

              --- On Fri, 4/16/10, usaseapower <nlsac@...> wrote:

              From: usaseapower <nlsac@...>
              Subject: [PMMC-NLUS] Re: Save the S. S. UNITED STATES!
              To: PMMC-NLUS@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Friday, April 16, 2010, 9:39 AM

               

              Ahoy Again,

              It's confirmed. On behalf of the council I will be presenting Susan Gibbs, President, SS United States Conservancy, the Pacific Merchant Marine Council's SS United States adoption certificate the morning of June 4th in Arlington Virginia. The occasion is the NLUS Merchant Marine Affairs Committee meeting - one of several during the NLUS Board of Directors meeting, June 2 - 4.

              Committee chairman VAdm. Al Herberger served as a cadet on the Big U during its maiden voyage. He is involved with the Conservancy and once had a conversation with Susan's grandfather William Francis Gibbs, the naval architect and marine engineer who designed the SS United States.

              Council Vice President Don Hale, Council Judge Advocate Edward Dangler, and Member/Advisory Board Member Joseph Giambrone serve with me on the NLUS Merchant Marine Affairs Committee. They will be there plus others. In addition to the framed certificate I will be giving Susan a NLUS Pacific Merchant Marine Council membership and NLUS coin.

              It is going to be quite a convention occasion! All invited!

              Phelps

            • usaseapower
              July 2, 2010 – The following is the full text of the SS United States Conservancy s press release
              Message 6 of 7 , Jul 6 7:36 PM
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                July 2, 2010 – The following is the full text of the SS United States Conservancy's press release covering the recent developments to save the ship:

                SS United States may be saved; Conservancy announces major donation by H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest to refit America's national flagship

                In a major development in the effort to save the legendary American ocean liner SS United States from destruction, the SS United States Conservancy announces a donation by Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest of up to $5.8 million.  The funds will be used to purchase the vessel from its current owner, Norwegian Cruise Line/Genting Hong Kong (Norwegian/Genting), and maintain the ship in its current berth for up to 20 months, while redevelopment and refurbishment plans are solidified.

                The Lenfest donation has enabled the Conservancy to enter into an exclusive purchase option agreement with Norwegian/Genting.  Funds will be allocated at a future date to complete a title transfer of the vessel to the Conservancy once necessary authorizations have been obtained.

                "We are thrilled that the SS United States has received a new lease on life.  This is a game-changer in our work to save this irreplaceable American icon," said Conservancy Board President Susan Gibbs, granddaughter of the vessel's designer, William Francis Gibbs.  "Mr. Lenfest's vision and generosity give us a fighting chance to preserve the SS United States for generations to come.  We also want to recognize the support of Norwegian/Genting.  They first listed the ship for sale in early 2009 and turned down higher offers to partner with us in this patriotic effort."

                The SS United States has had a variety of owners since being removed from service in 1969.  Still the holder of the "Blue Riband" (transatlantic speed record), set 58 years ago on her maiden voyage from New York to England, she is widely considered the greatest ocean liner ever built.  She was also a secret weapon during the Cold War, able to be converted to a troop ship capable of carrying an army division 10,000 miles without refueling or replenishment.  The ship became an icon of her era, transporting four American presidents and other heads of state, military and business leaders, and countless celebrities.  She also brought many immigrants to America.  The ship was purchased in 2003 with plans to be returned to ocean-going service.  Bids from scrappers were accepted in February 2010.

                "Having established a relationship with the Conservancy in 2009, Gerry Lenfest literally swept in at the 11th hour to save this national treasure," said Dan McSweeney, executive director of the organization, whose father emigrated from Scotland to work as a crew member aboard the ship.  "Like thousands of supporters across the country and world, Mr. Lenfest understands this ship is a symbol of American preeminence in the 20th century.  She can also become a part of America's future promise, potentially creating thousands of jobs during and after refurbishment and once again becoming a symbol of American determination and ability."

                The Conservancy's exclusive purchase option with Norwegian/Genting will expire in February 2011.  Once the title transfer occurs, the Lenfest donation provides the Conservancy with 20 months in which to begin the process of development.  The Conservancy plans to establish a public-private partnership to own and operate the ship as a multi-purpose stationary attraction.

                "We are reaching out to potential partners in Philadelphia, New York, and beyond as we begin laying the groundwork for the SS United States' next chapter," said Gibbs.  "The ship offers some 550,000 square feet of space to develop, and her interiors can be configured in a variety of ways.  We are putting together plans for a self-sustaining mixed-use complex with restaurant, retail, entertainment, and museum offerings.  She has the potential to be a dazzling and dynamic waterfront attraction.  The SS United States was an American original and we'll pay tribute to the ship's extraordinary history as we redevelop her for a new era."

                In conjunction with entering into the exclusive sales option, the Conservancy will develop enhanced capabilities and resources, including new office space in Philadelphia and New York, an expanded board of directors and new "Blue Riband Council" of influential Americans, as well as an Advisory Council of maritime experts and individuals with close ties to the SS United States.  The Conservancy has also received very robust pro bono services from two top-tier law firms.  Vedder Price is providing legal counsel in corporate structures and acquisition and development of the vessel.   Sidley Austin is representing the Conservancy with respect to environmental issues.  The Conservancy will significantly expand its fundraising efforts and develop new marketing and outreach material and an enhanced internet presence.

                The Conservancy will announce these developments at a National Flagship Celebration in the Columbus Commons/IKEA South Philadelphia parking lot across Columbus Boulevard from the ship's berth at Pier 82 on Thursday evening, July 1.  The event will also celebrate July 4th festivities and the 58th anniversary of the ship's maiden voyage.  The ship's funnels, bridge, radar mast, and running lights will be lit, a tradition begun by artist Robert Wogan in 1999.  Weather permitting, the award-winning American Public Television documentary SS United States: Lady in Waiting will also be screened.  Events will run from 7 – 10 p.m.  Light fare will be served and the band Jimmy and the Parrots will perform a set which will include their stirring tribute to the SS United States, "Symbol of America."

                "It's really a testament to the commitment of the entire community of SS United States supporters that we've been able to gain significant traction in our efforts, but let's be very clear, we are not out of the woods yet," said McSweeney.  "Mr. Lenfest's donation has allowed us to triage the SS United States.  Now comes the very challenging work of solidifying plans in New York or Philadelphia and that will take significant capital and operating funds.  This is very far from the end of the story."

                About the SS United States Conservancy: The SS United States Conservancy is a national nonprofit organization incorporated in Washington, DC.  It works to preserve America's national flagship, the legendary ocean liner SS United States, and to advocate for a dignified future for this historic passenger ship while educating the American public about her significance.  The Conservancy's founding Board has a long track record of accomplishments on behalf of the SS United States reaching back over twenty years.  The group's leadership has been interviewed by major media outlets, published books and articles on the SS United States, organized educational meetings that have drawn thousands of participants from across the country, developed notable websites, produced the award-winning documentary SS United States: Lady in Waiting, and engaged in ongoing outreach and advocacy on behalf of the ship's preservation.  The Conservancy emerged from the SS United States Preservation Society, which was instrumental in placing the ship on the National Register of Historic Places.

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