The world’s fastest ocean-liner, Titanic-sized super-ship the S.S. United States, once ferried presidents, Hollywood mega-stars, and even the Mona Lisa. Yet this mammoth and noble craft may soon be relegated to the junk heap. A preservationist group saved the vessel from being scrapped a few years ago and is now working with a developer to give the mothballed behemoth new life as a stationary waterfront real estate development in New York City, the ship’s home port in her heyday.
Those plans, however, may themselves be scrapped due to a lack of money. In fact, the S.S. United States Conservancy has recently authorized a ship broker to explore her potential sale to a recycler. The “Big U,” as the ship is called, is longer than three football fields. It was a marvel of technology and elegance throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, and offered regular passenger service between New York and Europe. Her maiden voyage, in 1952, broke trans-Atlantic speed records. She was so fast, in fact, that her propellers were a Cold War state secret.
The ship has approximately 600,000 square feet of floor space and was conceived to provide luxury passenger service to and from Europe and to quickly convert into a superfast military transport, if necessary. The vast vessel was a powerful expression of American postwar optimism and ambition.
Faster passenger jets ushered in an era of air travel and led to the downfall of ocean-going super-liners. The S.S. United States left service prior to 1970. Currently, she is docked in Philadelphia, stripped of her innards and rusting away in the Delaware River.
She is a powerful expression of American pessimism, retrenchment and retraction in the Obama Era.
The hulking S.S. “United States,” once the envy of the world, now literally and figuratively has lost her bearings- and her guts- and sits idly by, hoping to somehow avoid ending up on the scrap heap of history.