Historic Ship May be Headed for Scrap Yard

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Conservationists are warning that the SS United States, the fastest ocean liner in the world, is headed for the scrap yard.

The SS United States Conservancy, a nonprofit group intent on saving the historic ship, is calling for preservation efforts after the vessel's current owner, Norwegian Cruise Lines, began accepting bids from scrap yards earlier this month, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal on March 5th.

The ship debuted in 1952 with speeds so fast they became secrets of the Cold War, serving as transatlantic transportation for British royalty and members of Hollywood's elite. The steamship shuttled passengers between New York and Europe for nearly two decades before being decommissioned in 1969 due to the advent of jet travel, according to the WSJ.

Since 1996, the vessel has been rusting away in a parking spot on the Delaware River in Philadelphia. According to NCL, it costs $800,000 a year just to keep the ship mothballed.

"We continue to seek alternative arrangements with the intent of selling the vessel to a suitable buyer," a NCL spokeswoman said. "We have continued discussions with the S.S. United States Conservancy, but to date, they have not made an offer to purchase the ship."

After failed plans to refurbish the classic ocean liner to sail around Hawaii, NCL put the ship up for sale about a year ago at $1.5 million, a price that was too large for the Conservancy to pay at the time.

Recently NCL has begun entertaining bids from scrap yards, and the preservation group responded by launching a "Save Our Ship" fund-raiser campaign. The group hopes to restore the ship, a vessel that still holds the world record for the fastest westbound crossing of the Atlantic, to its former glory.

According to the group, visions for the ship's future include a floating convention center, hotel, casino, or even just a spot on New York City's waterfront.

Dan McSweeney, executive director of the Conservancy has said his group needs $3 million to purchase the vessel and keep it maintained for two years.

"They've taken care of the ship very well thus far," McSweeney told the WSJ. "There's a win-win here. We're confident we can work with them to save the ship and repurpose it successfully."
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