SS United States. Photo credit: SS United States Conservancy
By Mike Schuler
(gCaptain) A major development today in the ongoing saga to save the SS United States from a trip the scrapyard.
Los Angeles-based Crystal Cruises says it has signed a purchase option for the historic – yet weathered – transatlantic steam ship and plans to refurbish the vessel and return it to oceangoing service as a modern luxury cruise ship.
The announcement was made Thursday by Crystal Cruises together with the SS United States Conservancy preservation group at a press conference at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York City.
Crystal says its goal is to bring the ship into compliance with the latest environmental and safety standards, and returning her to full oceangoing service. In doing so, the company has agreed to cover all costs associated with preserving the ship while undertaking a technical feasibility study, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
The SS United States, aka “America’s Flagship”, has faced an uncertain future over the years and especially in recent months. In October 2015, the SS United States Conservancy, faced with the challenge covering the vessel’s monthly expenses each month, began exploring options for the potential sale and scrapping of the ship. The news ignited an outpouring of public support, which helped the Conservancy raise an additional $600,000 in funds to continue its preservation efforts and negotiations with potential investors, ultimately saving it from the scrapyard.
Photo credit: SS United States Conservation Society
The Conservancy alluded to today’s good news in late January following a story by the AP that said a deal had been struck to save the ship.
“The prospect of revitalizing the SS United States and reestablishing her as ‘America’s Flagship’ once again is a thrilling one. It will be a very challenging undertaking, but we are determined to apply the dedication and innovation that has always been the ship’s hallmark,” said Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez at Thursday press conference. “We are honored to work with the SS United States Conservancy and government agencies in exploring the technical feasibility study so we can ultimately embark on the journey of transforming her into a sophisticated luxury cruise liner for the modern era.”
Crystal Cruises says that in order to meet modern demands and be in full regulatory compliance, the SS United States will have to be extensively re-built to meet over 60 years of new maritime rules and shipbuilding practices. During the process, the ship will be transformed into an 800-guest-capacity vessel, featuring 400 luxurious suites with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities that are true to the ship’s history. Features of the original SS United States such as the Promenade and Navajo Lounge will be retained, while new engines and sophisticated marine technology will be installed to maintain her title as the fastest cruise vessel in the world, according to Crystal Cruises... (continued)