Tag Archives: Conservancy

SS United States Update


Today, the SS United States Conservancy announced that a preliminary deal has been made to save the SS United States and restore it as a mixed use facility including a museum. Conservancy director Susan Gibbs released the following information:

Dear SS United States Conservancy Supporters:

We are very pleased to confirm that we have now entered into a preliminary agreement in support of the redevelopment of the SS United States.  Negotiations have been underway for some time, and planning will continue with a variety of stakeholders. While further due diligence is conducted, the Conservancy will receive financial support to cover the vessel’s core carrying costs for at least an additional three months.

The project remains at an early and delicate phase, but we wanted to update our supporters about this encouraging development. As you can appreciate, the ship’s potential redevelopment represents a multifaceted engineering, real estate, and curatorial undertaking that will take considerable time to advance. Many challenges must still be overcome.However, we are fortunate that our new partners are very well equipped to handle this unique project’s scope and scale, and the Conservancy looks forward to working closely with them in the months to come.
Because negotiations are advancing on a confidential basis, we are unable to offer further specifics at this time. We will share additional information as soon as we possibly can. Again, the Conservancy views this as a very positive development which, while still in its initial stages, gives us renewed hope that we can, at long last, Save the United States.
We have reached this moment because so many of you have helped us. You are the real heroes of this effort.  We are particularly grateful to Gerry Lenfest, whose transformative contributions enabled the Conservancy to take title to the SS United States in 2011, and who has been a steadfast supporter of our efforts.  We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to Jim Pollin. Without his leadership gift and challenge grant to the Conservancy last summer – and without such a generous response from far and wide to Jim’s call – we would never have achieved this milestone.
While the ship is safe for the moment, this achievement doesn’t mean our work is done. The Conservancy continues to plan our ship-board museum and educational center, build our archival and curatorial collections, document and disseminate the ship’s historic importance, plan for contingencies, and work together with our new redevelopment partners to prepare the SS United States for her voyage to her next port of call.
Again, we can’t thank you enough for joining us on this journey and for helping us reach this point. We will honor your commitment by continuing to work tirelessly to ensure that America’s Flagship endures and inspires for generations to come.

With our warmest wishes for the holidays,

Susan Gibbs signature 
Susan Gibbs
Executive Director
SS United States Conservancy 

Image Source: SSUSC.org


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SS United States Conservancy Launches Innovative Fundraising Campaign

The homepage of Save the United States features animation and a detailed digital model of the ship.

Yesterday, the SS United States Conservancy launched a new fundraising campaign, Save the United States. The campaign uses innovative software that allows donors to purchase a virtual SS United States by the square inch. With this unique interface, a donor can purchase parts of the ship on the port-side, starboard-side, and the decks. Donors can login to the website using Facebook and begin purchasing sections of the ship. When they are finished, they can share their purchase with friends and family using the integrated social media tools.

The SS United States can be viewed from the starboard side, port side, and from the top. Donors can purchase parts of the ship from any of these perspectives.

Donors can change the perspective of the ship and can explore it by zooming into different levels. When zoomed in to the second level, donors can select a section with over 1200 inches available for purchase. In this view, donors may also see one of two icons. A anchor icon indicates a section where a donor has already purchased a part of the ship. A magnifying glass icon signifies that there is a “Explore Your Ship.” These facts can include wide variety of information or a story from a former passenger. Clicking on the magnifying glass brings up the fact or story with an accompanying picture. The Conservancy will continue to add new facts to the ship, so check back often to learn more about the SS United States.

When a donor zooms in to the third level, they can make their purchase. The donor can select the squares they wish to purchase, or they can have the computer select 50, 100, 250, or 500 squares.

Once zoomed in three times, you can select the inches you would like to purchase. Donations are $1 an inch and the right-hand column calculates your total and shows what rewards you have earned with your purchase.

Prices are set at only $1 per square inch, and as you add squares, you earn rewards and the ability to personalize your donation. By purchasing two squares, you can add a passport photo for everyone to see when they view the section you purchased. With a $3 donation, you can add a 140 character message with your photo. At the $5 level, you can add another photo in addition to your passport photo. With a $10 donation, you can expand your message from 140 characters to 2,000 characters. At the $20 level, you are allowed to customize the section you purchased by changing the color of the squares. At the $30 level, you also add a link to your personal website to your donation profile. And with a $50 or more donation, you get to choose a customized bade that will be placed on the section you purchased. The donor is responsible for paying the accompanying credit card transaction and percentage fees to ensure that 100% of the donation goes to the Conservancy.

In addition to accepting donations, the website also educates. An interactive timeline gives a full history of the ship, United States Lines, and the ships designer William Francis Gibbs.

The new website is about more than just fundraising. With the Explore Your Ship facts and a historical timeline, the website is a tool to educate the pubic about the SS United States. The timeline covers the history of the SS United States, United States Lines, and the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs.

The possibilities with this website are endless. It is truly a fun and affordable option to help save the SS United States. I have already made a purchase and intend to purchase a new section each month. This website offers a great opportunity for individuals, families, classrooms, and businesses to donate and own a part of a virtual SS United States. To introduce this new initiative, the SS United States Conservancy had created a video:

Save the United States is a fun and affordable way for donors to help save the SS United States. I have enjoyed exploring the website for past several days, and encourage everyone to take a look and take part in a new exciting way to preserve a piece of our nation’s history. As always, you can get the latest SS United States news by visiting the Conservancy’s website or by following them on FacebookYouTube, and Twitter.

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SS United States’ Maiden Voyage 60th Anniversary

SS United States leaving New York City on July 3, 1952

On July 3, 1952, the SS United States began its maiden voyage. The vessel departed from the United States Lines’ Pier 86 in New York City with Captain Harry Manning at the helm. There were rumors that the SS United States would go after the Transatlantic crossing record set by the RMS Queen Mary. It was no secret that the SS United States was fast, but it was not know just how quickly the vessel would go on its Maiden Voyage. When the SS United States arrived in England, it had successfully broken the record held for 14 years by the Queen Mary by over 10 hours. The SS United States completed the crossing in a record breaking 3 days, 10 hours, and 40 minutes with an average speed of 35.59 knots.

On the return voyage, the SS Untied States did it again, breaking the westbound crossing record when it arrived in New York in 3 days, 12 hours, and 12 minutes. The SS United States claimed the Blue Riband for the United States, a prize not held by a United States vessel since the SS Baltic, nearly one hundred years earlier. To this day, the westbound crossing record of the SS United States stands unbroken.

This was only the beginning of an illustrious career for the SS Untied States. It would go on to make 400 Transatlantic crossings before being retired in 1969.

SS United States returns to New York City after capturing the Blue Ribbon

Today, the SS United States Conservancy is working to save the SS United States. You can get the latest SS United States news and find out how you can help save the famous vessel by visiting the Conservancy’s website or by following them on FacebookYouTubeand Twitter.

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SS United States Funnels Illuminated

Reminiscent of 2010, the SS United States’ funnels are now illuminated in Philadelphia

To celebrate the 60th birthday of the SS United States, the funnels vessel’s were illuminated in a ceremony Friday evening. The upcoming fundraiser, Save the United States, will bring an innovative new interface and donation concept to its fundraising efforts. The plans reveal that a partial restoration would cost $25 million while a full restoration would cost $250 million. The Conservancy, in partnership with the SS United States Redevelopment Project, have until November 1 to secure funding. That is when a generous donation from philanthropist H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest will run dry.

During the ceremony, Super Bowl winning coach Dick Vermeil was presented with National Flagship Champion Honor for his assistance with the upcoming fundraising efforts.

It is no secret that I have support the Conservancy for years, and I encourage everyone to checkout the upcoming campaign. I will post full information about the upcoming campaign as soon as it is available.

You can get the latest SS United States News news by visiting the Conservancy’s website or by following them on Facebook, YouTubeand Twitter.

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SS United States Conservancy Reveals its Plans

There is no secret that the time the SS United States Conservancy has left to save the SS United States is running out. Their funding from the generous donation of H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest runs out November 1, 2012. At times it has been odd how silent they have been when facing this looming deadline, but they have begun to step up their fundraising efforts and have revealed some of their plans for the ship.

A few months ago, the SS United States Redevelopment Project began asking for qualifications, a process that will eventually lead to the acceptance of bids and proposals. The deadline for this initial request was June 1. After reviewing proposals, the Redevelopment Project will then ask for full details as well as bids. The goal of the group according to Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs is to select a partner or group of partners by the fall.

Plans call for a mix use option for the ship interior including hotel space, casino space, and retail/restaurant space. Estimates for the complete refitting of the ship have been estimated at $200 – $300 million, but there is a contingency plan. Another plan calls for the restoration of the ships exterior as well as one or two of the decks. The income from the first two decks could then be used to complete the rest of the ship over time. The cost for this plan, according to Gibbs, is $25 million. Either way, there do seem to be real plans for the SS United States moving forward and the Conservancy is stepping up its fund raising with events, a new documentary, and a recently released PSA featuring former NFL coach Dick Vermeil.

Preserving the history of the SS United States is important to me. Included in the plans for the redevelopmet of the SS United States is a 20,000 square feet museum to be on board. In addition, the plan calls for the restoration of key rooms within the ship to period decor. I have long supported the Conservancy and encourage anyone with an interest in Maritime history to do so as well.

Keep up with the latest Conservancy news by visiting their website or by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: Hampton Roads Daily Press

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Where Titanic Failed, American Vessel Stood Tall

By: Susan Gibbs

Originally published in the USA Today, April 13, 2012

As we approach the Titanic’s 100th anniversary on Sunday, the doomed luxury liner seems to be sailing across every television and computer screen. Amidst the rapt attention paid to a British ship’s tragic end, the most famous ocean liner that never sank still bears the proud name United States. Though sadly overlooked by most Americans, our nation’s flagship still serves as an enduring symbol of American postwar power, pride and innovation.

There are many measures of a vibrant society — the freedom it guarantees its citizens, its technological advancement and the opportunities it affords its people, to name just a few. An advanced society is also one that appreciates its own history. As the red, white and blue funnels of the SS United States fade in Philadelphia, this storied ship, once a metaphor for American strength and ingenuity, risks becoming a tragic symbol of our nation’s decline. We cannot allow that to happen.

While the Titanic carried more than 1,500 passengers to a watery grave on her first Atlantic crossing, the SS United States barreled across the ocean on her record-breaking maiden voyage averaging 35.59 knots— or more than 40 miles per hour. On that historic trip in 1952, America’s answer to Europe’s dominance of the seas sped through the water with such force that bow waves blasted the paint off her hull. She became the fastest ocean liner ever built using only two-thirds of her power and still holds the trans-Atlantic speed record for a passenger ship, nearly 60 years after her launch. The SS United States could go faster in reverse than the Titanic could travel forward.

Storied history

After a ticker tape parade up the Canyon of Heroes in New York honoring her crew, the “Big U” went on to serve for 17 mishap-free years, carrying more than a million passengers across the sea, including four U.S. presidents, business moguls, movie stars, military personnel and immigrants beginning new lives on our shores.

SS United States Returns from its Record Breaking Maiden Voyage

Built as part of a top-secret Pentagon project to create the safest and fastest ocean liner ever constructed, the 1,000-foot-liner is 100 feet longer than the Titanic. The size of the Chrysler Building, the SS United States served as both a luxury liner and Cold War weapon, capable of transporting 15,000 troops, 10,000 miles without refueling.

Like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Washington Monument, there is only one SS United States.
Thanks in part to lessons learned from the Titanic’s tragic demise, the SS United States was designed for safety. The ship’s dual engine rooms ensured that she could still make port even if one of them flooded. The ship’s aluminum superstructure eliminated the need for “expansion joints” — small seams in the steel superstructure that contributed to the Titanic’s breakup.

Major safety precautions

The “Big U” was completely fireproof. Her designer, my grandfather William Francis Gibbs, took this mandate to an extreme. He demanded that Theodore Steinway customize the ship’s baby grand pianos in aluminum. Mahogany pianos were permitted only after Steinway offered to douse one in gasoline and ignite it to illustrate its fire-retardant qualities. The wooden shuffleboard discs were replaced with plastic alternatives, and the conductor’s baton was rendered in aluminum. However, as one magazine noted wryly after the vessel’s debut, they had “devised no way of rendering the musicians incombustible.”

Rather than resting some two-and-a-half miles below the ocean’s surface off the coast of Newfoundland, the SS United States still floats at a Philadelphia pier. Decommissioned in 1969, she has passed through the hands of a number of owners over the decades. The non-profit SS United States Conservancy saved the ocean liner from certain scrapping last year by purchasing the vessel, thanks to a grant from a patriotic philanthropist named H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest.

This irreplaceable piece of American engineering is now poised to serve our nation and the world yet again. Partners and supporters from across the country are needed to help redevelop the vessel as a mixed use destination featuring a museum, educational programs and other uses in an urban waterfront setting. The ship’s more than 650,000 square feet of interior space offers unique opportunities to explore and celebrate everything from American technological innovation, engineering, and postwar history to sea-going travel and the Mad Men era.

In response to the Titanic’s sinking, the bishop of Winchester stated: “The Titanic, name and thing, will stand for a monument and warning to human presumption.” The SS United States also stands as a monument and also issues a warning. Today, the Big U quietly warns us that time, tide and complacency can threaten even our most awe-inspiring patriotic symbols.

The Titanic and the SS United States both embodied their nation’s loftiest aspirations. But only one of these legendary vessels can still be saved for future generations. Once the Titanic memorials, movies and television shows become a memory, we have a chance to save our own history.

Susan Gibbs is the executive director of the SS United States Conservancy and the granddaughter of William Francis Gibbs, the designer of the SS United States.

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SS United States Conservancy Announces 2012 Plans

The SS United States Conservancy announced their plans for 2012 last week. This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the ship’s maiden voyage. It is also the make-or-break year for the Conservancy. If they are not able to save the ship this year, they will be forced to sell the SS United States for scrap. They have set an ambitious schedule for 2012 beginning with the premier of a new documentary, SS United States: Made in America, this Thursday, February 9, at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia. Presenting the documentary will be the Conservancy’s executive director, Susan Gibbs.

The new documentary is only one of the many upcoming plans from the Conservancy. Others include:

-Releasing a made-for-television Public Service Announcement, featuring Super Bowl-winning head coach Dick Vermeil
-Unveiling a new museum installation at the Forbes Gallery in New York City in May, 2012 as a preview for our larger shipboard museum      planning efforts
-Hosting several new member cultivation events, including a gala in New York City in celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the ship’s maiden voyage
-Launching an interactive, online, grassroots fundraising campaign — “Paint the Big Ship”
-Holding a ceremonial lighting and painting of the ship’s funnels

The Conservancy is working with the SS United States Redevelopment Project to ensure the ship is preserved for the future. The current plans are for the SS United States to become a mix-use stationary attraction in either New York or Miami. The Conservancy and Redevelopment Project have made important corporate connections, but private donations are just as important.

The ship has not been saved yet. There is still a great deal of work to be done and all donations will help the Conservancy develop the SS United States.

Today, the Conservancy announced that work has begun to prepare the SS United States for redevelopment. A sign that the plans are well underway.

I do not want to see the SS United States sold for scrap. She represents a lost age of Transatlantic sailing and American ship building. I encourage everyone to become a member of the Conservancy. They offer a number of membership levels to fit every budget.

Keep up with the latest Conservancy news by visiting their website or by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

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