Crystal Cruises has announced its intention to return iconic ocean liner the SS United States back into service.
The fast-growing luxury operator made the announcement yesterday at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York.
The cruise line said it will cover all the costs of undertaking a technical assessment of the ship, known as “America’s Flagship”, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
It is hoped the liner can be brought up to modern standards and return to ocean-going service.
Crystal president and chief executive, Edie Rodriguez, said: “The prospect of revitalising the SS United States and re-establishing 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.
“We are honoured 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.”
Susan Gibbs, executive director of the SS United States Conservancy and granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs, added:
“Crystal’s ambitious vision for the SS United States will ensure our nation’s flagship is once again a global ambassador for the highest standards of American innovation, quality and design.
“We are thrilled that the SS United States is now poised to make a triumphant return to sea and that the ship’s historical legacy will continue to intrigue and inspire a new generation.”
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.
The modern United States by Crystal Cruises will be transformed into an 800-guest-capacity vessel, featuring 400 luxurious suites measuring about 350 square feet with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities that are true to the ship’s storied history.
Features of the original SS United States such as the Promenade and Navajo Lounge will be retained, while new engines and the latest marine technology will be installed to maintain her title as the fastest cruise vessel in the world.
Rodriguez added: “It is truly a privilege for the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line to be entrusted with the opportunity of restoring a ship that served as a symbol of patriotism and maritime supremacy and bring her into the modern day, while also giving guests a taste of a bygone era of luxury travel.”
Crystal is already looking to develop new itineraries for the 60,000-gross-ton United States by Crystal Cruises including not only the traditional transatlantic voyages from New York City, but cruises from key US ports as well as international voyages around the globe which are a signature offering of Crystal and part of the line’s “World Cruise”.
The SS United States was launched in 1952 and it claimed the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage – a record to this day that still stands.
She remains the largest passenger ship ever designed and built in America. Before her retirement in 1969, the SS United States was the most glamorous and elegant ship in the world, having transported four US presidents, international royalty, many of Hollywood’s “golden era” celebrities, as well as a million passengers.
The SS United States was designed as part of a top-secret Pentagon programme during the Cold War, which stipulated it could be quickly converted from a luxury liner into a naval troopship in the event of a war, carrying 15,000 troops with a 240,000 shaft horsepower propulsion plant capable of traveling 10,000 nautical miles – almost half way around the globe – without refueling.
In October 2015, the SS United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors announced that the persistent challenge of covering the vessel’s monthly expenses had compelled them to engage a shipbroker to explore the potential sale of the ship to be responsibly recycled.
This prompted an outpouring of public support worldwide and led to the Conservancy raising additional funds which enabled the organisation to continue its preservation efforts and pursue negotiations with potential investors and partners.
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