[B]Published on Aug 16, 2015[/B]
Urban Exploration : Exploring Decaying SS United States Ocean Liner Ship
A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to check out the decaying SS Unites States Ocean liner that has been sitting in Philadelphia Pennsylvania since 1996. This ship is off limits to the public. Its located on a private shipyard shared with the US Govt. I had to undergo background checks to even step foot on the port. Exploring this one without permission is straight up impossible so DO NOT ATTEMPT!
The SS United States is one of the last remaining Ocean Liners that was part of the United States lines. It first maiden voyage was in 1952. The ship is about 990 feet long (5 City Blocks) and it’s built by famous naval architect, William Gibbs. The ship was built different then other ocean liners in the era. It was built with a mixture of steel and aluminum. Steel was used at the bow and on the lower decks as the entire upper desk was constructed with aluminum. The ship was also designed to be fireproof. No wood was used. Even the piano was a special fireproof wood. Mr. Gibbs designed it this way as the United States Govt wanted a ship that can be safe and travel fast which she sure did. The SS United States broke the speed record of 40-45MPH (30 Knots). It still hold the record today as the fastest Ocean Liner to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean. The US Govt also wanted a ship that was built like a naval ship so that if World War III was to happen, it can be converted and transport 15,000 troops to Europe. The boat had areas for three classes, First Class, Cabin Class, and Tourist Class. Each class had access to certain areas of the ship and could not enter other classes areas. Many famous people travel to and from the United States on this ship. However in the 60s, transportation across the Atlantic Ocean by plane became faster. This in turn destroyed the ocean liners profit. Many ships like the Queen Mary, SS America, SS France, started to seize operations due to less tickets sold. The SS United States last journey before the United States Lines pulled the ship from service was 1969. The massive ship from that time never sailed on it own power again. It ended up being moved to Virginia under a new owner. All of the interior furniture was auctioned off. Some of the interior furniture including the ships horn can be found in places all over the US. In the early 1990s, the ship was bought by a group who sent it to Turkey to have it entire interior walls stripped to it bare bones due to asbestos. Then in 1996, the ship arrived to Philadelphia in hopes to be a riverfront Casino / Hotel. Those plans however fell through and it went through more owners. The ship was about to be scrapped until the SS United States Conservatory bought the ship to save it from scrappers. The owner of the group is the great granddaughter of William Gibbs, the creator of this ship. They been trying to find a owner to restore the ship. Many people have been interested, just nothing has been finalized. They rely off donations to keep the ship docked which cost them 50,000 Us Dollars a month. Donations are keeping this ship afloat. If you would like to make a donation to help save the ship, go to https://www.savetheunitedstates.org/ to make a donation.
Disclaimer: Exploring Abandoned Structures can be dangerous and you could be trespassing. You could get a fine, get hurt, get sick, and/or get arrested. Therefore I CAN NOT be held responsible for your actions if you do choose to enter an abandoned site. I am not providing this video to show people where and how to get to these places. This video is meant to give my viewers the feel of an abandoned structure safely in their home plus provide some history. Just don’t do it. If you choose to ignore this disclaimer, you are taking full responsibility for your actions!
Lots of spelling errors but awesome write up. There’s a ton of artifacts from the SS United States around the campus of SUNY Maritime College, including one of the huge propellers. It’s a shame beautiful vessels like her along with the NS Savannah are nothing but antiquated rusty skeletons now, but that’s life.
Its not right for the ship to be kept like that. Time has proven there is no public will to keep her around in a respectable fashion. Time to scrap her. Has happened to many other attempted museum ships and will happen to many more. She had a great run.
^^^ you are right, it makes no economic sense to pour millions into a stripped hull that has been neglected for over 40 years. Save the iconic stacks and maybe some superstructure and scrap the rest. It’s a shame but you can’t save everything.
[QUOTE=salt’n steel;169167]I believe they fired up the liberty ship Jerimiah O’Brien from the Suisun Bay mothball fleet in 1980 and drove it out on its own power. To my knowledge she sat there for 30-35 years.[/QUOTE]
One hopes that the care taken with the O’BRIEN’s boilers was also taken on the UNITED STATES, but for some reason I doubt it. . . and I believe you are correct about the O’BRIEN. I seem to recall speaking with one of the engineers some years ago and he said much the same. They went up to the fleet, got on board, followed the procedures and sailed her down to the shipyard. I do know that she was fully reclassed by ABS (had to be to make the run to Europe for the D-Day Anniversary visits). Not sure if she is any longer since that can get expensive. I am sure that the surveys could be donated, but the other work adds up. . . suppose I could look it up. . .and I did. . . no longer Classed. . .
[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;169173]It’s too bad what happened to the [I]S.S. United States[/I]. The story of William Gibbs and what went into the design and building the ship is told in the book “A Man and His Ship: America’s Greatest Naval Architect and His Quest to Build the S.S. United States”. It’s an interesting read about a remarkable ship.[/QUOTE]
truly an engineering marvel of its age but she was built too late to have a genuinely successful life. The age of the great liners where doomed by the jet engine and for her to be laid up at under 20 years of age was indeed sad. Sadder still is the endless string of dreamers who believe the ship still has a future and the continuous spending of money on a dead ship to keep her parked and looking like the corpse she is. With the name UNITED STATES, it is a doubly sad metaphor for the nation which shares her name. Would I love to see her restored and preserved? Of course I would, but I am also a realist and know full well that will never happen because there is no way to pay off that investment so I know the ship if truly dead and never will come back to life. When you have a dead body then it must be disposed of even if you don’t want to be the one to do it. Someone must pull the plug and make that terrible but necessary decision.
[QUOTE=c.captain;169175]truly an engineering marvel of its age but she was built too late to have a genuinely successful life. The age of the great liners where doomed by the jet engine and for her to be laid up at under 20 years of age was indeed sad. Sadder still is the endless string of dreamers who believe the ship still has a future and the continuous spending of money on a dead ship to keep her parked and looking like the corpse she is. With the name UNITED STATES, it is a doubly sad metaphor for the nation which shares her name. Would I love to see her restored and preserved? Of course I would, but I am also a realist and know full well that will never happen because there is no way to pay off that investment so I know the ship if truly dead and never will come back to life. When you have a dead body then it must be disposed of even if you don’t want to be the one to do it. Someone must pull the plug and make that terrible but necessary decision.[/QUOTE]
Regardless of people’s views of the ship today the story of Gibbs is an intresting one. The book discusses the culture of the people that traveled in that time more then I cared about but the parts about how Gibbs managed to get support to have the ship built and the details of engineering were very intresting. We need a Gibbs today to get those icebreakers built.
But as far as the timing etc, your right. The age of the liners was ending when ship was built.
I for one have always admired the lines of the S.S. United States, but she is probably too far gone at this point to bring her back without an insane amount of money. I recently had a chance to take a walk around the N.S. Savannah and she is remarkably well preserved and from the same era. Of course the bulk of the ship has not been pilfered and gutted like the United States, plus MARAD recently spent a boatload of money to give it a spiffy paint job as well. I don’t think they had a choice in the matter due to the trace levels of radiation and the strange ownership/registration with the N.E.C. I guess what I’m trying to say is if this historical ship can be preserved, there is hope for other grand ladies out there.
With the donation of $100,000, do you think that the ship will be saved from being destroyed? I truly believe that the ship should be restored rather than looking like a sore thumb. A prestigious vessel such as the SS Unites States would be a big loss for the US.