The SS United States has been a mainstay of the Pennsport waterfront since 1996, and the threat of its demise at the scrapyard has been a constant source of frustration for the SS United States Conservancy nonprofit group, which purchased the ship in 2010. The group is doing everything in its power to secure funding for the ship's preservation, but zero hour has never been closer than it is right now.
Spanning 990 feet in length (stand it up and it'd be 15 feet taller than the Comcast Center), the SS United States has played host to four American presidents, a handful of international dignitaries, and celebrities the likes of Marlon Brando, John Wayne, Salvador Dali, and Marilyn Monroe. Hell, it even transported the Mona Lisa from the Louvre to New York in 1963. The ship has held the trans-Atlantic speed record for more than 60 years and could go almost as fast in reverse as the Titanic could go forward.
Despite its staggering history, the SS United States has been deteriorating in front of our eyes for the better part of two decades. The monthly cost to maintain and insure the ship ranges between $50,000-$60,000; a financial burden that has forced the ownership group to sell off tanks and other materials from the engine room. The silver lining, however, is that the removal of the dated equipment will make it easier to install a more modern utilities system in case another seafaring philanthropist comes along and decides to invest.
In an ideal world, the SS United States Conservancy would like to turn the vessel into a mixed-use floating attraction with restaurants, a hotel, and museum that highlights its extraordinary past. For now, we're left with the fleeting optimism that the SS United States will once again see better days.
Take a look at the gallery below for a look at the SS United States in its heyday compared to today. And check out the Abandoned America gallery linked at the bottom of the page for some recent photos aboard the vessel.