Historic ship in Philadelphia short on $500K, time
PHILADELPHIA — The SS United States is sending out what may be its final distress call.
The 990-foot-long ship could be sold for scrap within two months unless the grassroots preservation group that's working to secure a home and purpose for it can raise $500,000 immediately, the group said. Talks are under way with developers and investors about the ship's long-term future, but without emergency funding, its caretakers fear they will run out of money before a deal is inked.
The historic ocean liner carried princes and presidents across the Atlantic in the 1950s and 1960s but has spent decades awaiting a savior at its berth on the Philadelphia waterfront.
“We've made progress on the fundraising side and the redevelopment side,” said Susan Gibbs, executive director of the SS United States Conservancy and granddaughter of the ship's Philadelphia-born designer, William Francis Gibbs. “Our immediate goal is to buy some time.”
The group has raised $1 million through fundraisers and a website, where contributors can sponsor a piece of the ship for $1 per square foot but has received no public funding. What is desperately and immediately needed, they said, are donors with deep pockets and high profiles.
“Are we giving up on successfully redeveloping the ship as a self-sustaining entity? Absolutely not,” said Dan McSweeney, head of the redevelopment efforts, “but we need more time to get it off the ground ... and we're running out of runway.”
It costs $80,000 a month just for mooring, basic maintenance, insurance and security, he said.
The conservancy is exploring potential partnerships to refashion the vessel as a stationary entertainment complex with 500,000 square feet of space for a hotel, theater, restaurants and shopping. The sluggish economy and other factors have slowed negotiations, McSweeney said.
As talks continue, he said, the hope is to persuade corporate sponsors, influential politicians and prominent business leaders to lend their political and financial capital to the effort.
The SS United States carried more than 1 million passengers at record-breaking trans-Atlantic speeds over the course of 400 round trips from 1952 to 1969, among them President John F. Kennedy, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Salvador Dali and Elizabeth Taylor. A joint venture between the Navy and ship designer Gibbs & Cox, the luxury liner was made with hidden military might: It could have been converted in a single day to transport 14,000 troops for 10,000 miles before refueling.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- State senator seeks coverage numbers from 5 insurers
- Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf to sign order barring drilling of new oil, gas wells in state forests, parks
- Popular Super Bowl, March Madness traditions prohibited under state law
- Fight between cities, nonprofits flares in Pa. Senate
- Officials dissent on whether offices can prohibit, charge to photograph public record documents
- Pennsylvania’s teacher pension system scores D plus, National Council on Teacher Quality says
- State police commissioner nominee commits to diversity, but numbers dwindled in Maryland
- Philly to host exhibit