Preservationists Perched To Buy SS UNITED STATES

SS UNITED STATES in 2008. Photo (c) D. Zimmerman

In astonishingly good news for ship preservationists today, the S.S. United States Conservancy, a group dedicated to saving the laid up liner SS UNITED STATES from scrap, have managed to get a deal in place to buy the historic liner from the NCL Group for US$3 million.

July 1st, is a big day in the life of a ship laid up since 1969.  The Philadelphia berthed UNITED STATES will be given a grand celebration in honor of the 58th anniversary of her record-breaking maiden voyage. A feature of the special program will include a recreation of artist Robert Wogan’s lighting of the ship’s funnels, bridge, and radar mast along with an outdoor screening of  the documentary “SS United States: Lady in Waiting”.

Despite an offer from scrap dealers for the ship at US$5.9 million, NCL reportedly stated, “We are pleased with the current arrangement with the conservancy.”

The proposed sale still must overcome some hurdles, primarily to satisfy Environmental Protection Agency concerns related to toxic PCBs aboard the nearly 60-year-old ship. Also, the preservationists will be responsible for the US $60,000 per month docking fees in Philadelphia. The funding has been provided by Gerry Lenfest, a Philadelphia philanthropist. The S.S. United States Conservancy’s agreement with NCL to buy the ship expires in February 2011, and if the sale is completed, according to the the agreement with Mr. Lenfest, the group has 20 months of financial support to develop a long-term plan that would make the ship financially self-supporting.

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