Wednesday, July 15, 2020

SS United States 2020

The SS United States went in for an overhaul in 1969 and never sailed again. The era of ocean liners was over. The SS America, RMS Queen Mary, and RMS Queen Elizabeth, and SS United States were all retired within a five year period.

The U.S. Navy mothballed her, sealed up the ship, did corrosion control, treated the ship like any warship being held in reserve. In 1978, the decision was made that that the ship was no longer a viable asset and it was sold. That begins a long story.

The first plans was to make her a floating casino. Sold and sold again, it was planned twice to make her a cruise ship. The Navy considered repurchasing her to make a hospital ship but decided on a different ship.

In 1984, the ship's furniture, equipment and fittings were sold to raise money. In 1993 she was towed to the Ukraine where she underwent asbestos abatement. That gutted the interior of the ship and left little hope of refitting. That's probably the point at which any future plans were futile.

Towed to Philadelphia in 1996 and docked, she was sold again in 1997. Once again, plans were made to make her a cruise ship, this time to Hawaii. She was legally elgible because she was U.S. built and could have be U.S. flagged and crewed. That got a full study, she still had a solid hull and it would have been possible. The company picked a different ship.

At this point there is talk of scrapping. There was one last effort to do a million dollar study to restore the ship to service. The conclusion, probably the final conclusion, was that it was not feasible. The dated technology, the ship design, any use that might make a profit, the cost to retrofit, and modern regulatory rules make the clear eyed decision pretty easy.

Here's a walk around of the ship as  it looks today.

A group formed, they want to save the ship, make a museum, refit her, see her sail again, anything but scrap her. The SS United States Conservancy. They might need Bill Gates or maybe Elon Musk. It's costing $60,000 a month just to maintain the hulk of the ship at the dock.

In response to my last post, Paul Dammit!, who writes at Hawsepiper: The Longest Climb, about ships and shipping from an inside view, left me a comment. It's not sentimental, but I think it closes this post.
Every 5 years, some shill starts a Restoration and Rehab company, to either rebuild the ship or copy it. It's too damned small, too damn narrow and the hull design is 3/4 of a century old. It is a pretty piece of our past. So, do we want to spent millions on it to make a museum that nobody wants to visit? I mean, we can. 
Or, we can scan, photograph, and scrap the damn thing, like bringing ol Yeller to stud before spattering his brains all over the barn walls. 
It's still sitting there in Philly, shedding lead paint into the Delaware
River, looking like a dirty armpit, fitting right in, in fact.
A modern ship carries 3x the passengers, has 20% of the fuel cost and doesn't have more rust than Detroit. But some dingus will collect a couple million from fresh rubes every year and pretend like he's getting it back in service. This is... year 20 of that? Rehab number 6? 7? Whatever, you can build a new ship for the amount of donations that this sad tetanus farm has collected. 
--Paul, Damnit!


Pachydermis2 said...

This is a tale told again and again with older ships (and other relics). There is an entire website - and one done very well indeed - devoted to WWII ships, planes, small arms etc. Sad and inspiring at the same time...

T. Wolter

Tim said...

When I report to the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in 1981 she was parked near Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock. She was a beautiful ship even then.

Old NFO said...

Only a few ship museums ever succeed. Patriot's Point is one that comes to mind.

Beans said...

What Paul something something says about any refurb of SS US also applies to recreations of past glory ships.

Like the idiots purportedly building a new Titanic. Oh, they're actually doing it, in fits and bits, and someday it will hit the water and then get tied up dockside after one or two trips never to sail again because.. 1910 hull design and comfort features, even updated with AC and roll stabilizers, sucks rocks bigly. Plus, in all reality, the original or copy (at 46,000 tons and 54,000 tons, respectively) are just too small.

Yet people toss money at it.

Would rather see the USS Olympia restored, or at least parts of it saved.

Fred said...

When I showed up on USS Swayback back in the last century I discovered she had been commissioned three weeks before I was born. She was decommissioned and scrapped before I left the service. At least she didn't put the Scorpion and Thresher in 3 section duty with Davy Jones. I agree with Paul (Beans too, but hopefully none of the Woke in Philly know about the Olympia else she'll burn faster than the Bon Homme Richard), the SS United States was economically obsolescent decades ago.

Ritchie said...

Hey, Elon Musk does like to put odd things in space....

Hammerbach said...

This was a beautiful ship, and a triumph in so many ways. Very hard to find the people who can make things like this now. I have a strong connection to this vessel - Thanks for sharing this.

LSP said...

I love the old ships, beautiful. Let's hope we can save a few.

HMS Defiant said...

If you want the sea, sail on the QM2 to England or any other place. It was wonderful.

Birdchaser said...

The USS Alabama in Mobile Bay is doing well.