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Full Steam Ahead - Plans to restore the SS United States move forward

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  • Pacific Merchant Marine Council
    SS United States passes the SS America in New York Harbor Gerry Lenfest stands beside the SS United States docked in South Philadelphia on the Delaware River
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 17, 2010
      SS United States passes the SS America in New York Harbor
       
      Gerry Lenfest stands beside the SS United States docked in South Philadelphia on the Delaware River
       
      Preservation Magazine - The magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
       
      http://www.preservationnation.org/magazine/2010/november-december/full-steam-ahead.html
       

      Full Steam Ahead

      Plans to restore the SS United States move forward

      By Eric Wills | From PreservationNovember/December 2010 

      It's not something you forget, the time you boarded her to visit relatives in Europe, perhaps, or to emigrate to America. The SS United States, with her signature red-white-and-blue funnels, commanded attention and epitomized postwar American power, setting a transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage in 1952. That record still stands, but the ocean liner often described as the finest ever built was taken out of service in 1969 and in recent years has been docked on the Delaware River just south of downtown Philadelphia, her paint peeling, her fate uncertain.

      Norwegian Cruise Line purchased the ship in 2003, intending to add her to its fleet. But that plan failed, and early in 2010 the cruise company began accepting bids from ship scrappers.

      Just as the ship's demise appeared imminent, Gerry Lenfest, a Philadelphia philanthropist and former cable television mogul, stepped forward. In partnership with the SS United States Conservancy, a nonprofit group, he donated $3 million to purchase the liner. Norwegian had received an offer nearly double that amount from a scrapper but agreed to sell her to the conservancy. The group's executive director, Dan McSweeney, says, "For Lenfest to understand the gravity of the situation and to make the offer he did—we're very grateful."

      All that remains for the $3 million sale to be final: Environmental Protection Agency approval of a remediation plan drafted by the conservancy to address hazardous PCBs inside the ship. McSweeney says he expects the agency to rule by the end of the year.

      The conservancy will then attempt to arrange a public-private partnership with a developer interested in refashioning the SS United States as a mixed-use destination, potentially including a hotel, restaurant, and museum. Lenfest has promised to donate as much as $2.8 million to cover maintenance costs as the conservancy attempts to reach an agreement with a developer likely based in either Philadelphia or New York.

      "She was a beautiful vessel, the most iconic example of the greatness of the United States in shipbuilding, so I felt she was worth preserving," Lenfest says. He decided to help in part because he remembers the stories his father, a naval architect, told about working for the company that built the ship's watertight doors.

      Indeed, personal memories or connections to the SS United States abound. Dan McSweeney, whose father worked on the ship as a steward, says that ­redeveloping the liner will create jobs and will inspire new appreciation for her significance. "People need to be reminded about what this ship represents," he says. "It's important to remember where we came from, our maritime legacy." 


      Save the S. S. UNITED STATES!
      "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...
       
      Mar 3, 2010
      2:29 pm
       
      Re: Save the S. S. UNITED STATES!
      Scrap history? Save our ship! <mhtml:{1F871205- E83A-412B- 9890-1FFD3B54B3B C}mid://00000445 /!x-usc:http: \ ...
      Mar 4, 2010
      9:26 pm
       
      Re: Save the S. S. UNITED STATES!
      Corresponding with the SS UNITED STATES Conservancy and others in regards to the adoption. Added five links to our every expanding links page, ...
      Mar 7, 2010
      4:00 pm
       
      Re: Save the S. S. UNITED STATES!
      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...
      Apr 15, 2010
      7:10 am
       
      Re: Save the S. S. UNITED STATES!
      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...
      Apr 16, 2010
      10:19 am
       
      Re: Save the S. S. UNITED STATES!
      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...
      Apr 17, 2010
      12:05 pm
       
      Re: Save the S. S. UNITED STATES!
      July 2, 2010 – The following is the full text of the SS United States Conservancy <http://www. ssunitedstatesco nservancy. org/SSUS/ Home.html> 's press release...
       Jul 6, 2010
      7:45 pm
       

       

      Navy League of the United States

      Pacific Merchant Marine Council

      Certificate of Adoption & Support

      Whereas the Navy League of the United States for over one hundred years has expressed its patriotism, commitment, strength of spirit, and support for the Navy, Marine Corp, Coast Guard, and U. S. flag Merchant Marine, and

      Whereas an important objective of the Navy League is to improve understanding of and appreciation for our country’s waterborne vessels past and present and those who have served and are serving aboard, and

      Whereas to further these objectives, Navy League councils “adopt” ships, squadrons, and stations, and

      Whereas the SS United States is the most outstanding testimony our passenger liners and Merchant Marine played in the maritime commerce of our great nation’s history, be it hereby resolved:

      The Navy League of the United States Pacific Merchant Marine Council, recognizing the SS United States’ flagship career, hereby adopts and commits to support her future life by aiding the SS United States Conservancy. Fair winds and following seas Conservancy!

      __________________________________ 4 June 2010

      Phelps Hobart, President                                                                                                       
      Pacific Merchant Marine Council                                                                                           
      Navy League of the United States
       

      Acknowledged and accepted with gratitude.

      __________________________________ 4 June 2010                                                                 

      Susan Gibbs, President                                                                                                                  
      SS United States Conservancy

      _________________________________ 4 June 2010

      Dan McSweeney, Executive Director

      SS United States Conservancy

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