Generous donations keep historic oceanliner S.S. United States afloat


Preservationists who bought the S.S. United States— the fastest oceanliner ever built — in 2011 for $3 million, were drowning in debt. But thankfully due to last-minute donations of more than $600,000 that sailed in, the vessel will stay afloat — at least for the time being.

While the group received three offers to melt down the ship because it contains more aluminum than any structure built before the World Trade Center, they turned them down. Their goal has always been to redevelop the ship and return it to shipshape condition because of its rich history.


Though the ship is currently docked in the Delaware River in Philadelphia and has not moved on its own power for decades, it once provided passenger service between New York and Europe. It was so powerful that during the Cold War its top speed became a state secret.

The conservancy’s executive director Susan Gibbs told the New York Times that the donations — including an anonymous gift of $250,000 — will cover the cost of caring for the ship “well into next year.” The referenced anonymous donor explained that letting it be scrapped would be “like letting the Statue of Liberty be melted down and turned into pennies.”


Sadly, even the sizable $600,000 donation can’t promise the ship’s long-term security because monthly docking, insurance and caretaker costs total about $60,000 a month. So the preservationists have kicked a plan to refurbish it into high gear.

The New York City real estate industry just may save the day and allow preservationists to keep their collective heads above water. Gibbs explains the conservancy has been working with developers to bring the cruiseliner back to the area as part of a waterfront real estate development. Sorry Leo, these are the real kings of the world.