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Study: SS United States ship technical challenges too big to set sail

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It won’t return to the seas after all

After conducting a six-month-long study, the SS United States ship that sat docked on the Delaware River in Philly for 20 years will not set sail.

That disappointing news comes after the February 2016 announcement that Crystal Cruises and SS United States Conservancy planned to revive what was once the fastest cruise liner in the world into a modern ship. The partnership announced a feasibility study that lasted six months and cost Crystal Cruises $1 million.

A team of engineers, maritime experts, and divers concluded that the 1950s SS United States is, in fact, structurally sound. But, according to the announcement released on Friday, "the technical and commercial challenges associated with returning the historic liner to service as a modern cruise ship have unfortunately proven insurmountable." In greater detail, they report:

[. . .] Modifying the ship for today’s standards for oceangoing service (SOLAS) would require significant changes to the hull that would pose stability challenges. Additionally, the installation of a modern, state-of-the-art diesel electric propulsion plant would have necessitated altering of the existing shaft lines and rebuilding about 25 percent of the hull to reconfigure the ship to a twin shaft-twin rudder arrangement.

The announcement means the conservancy is once again going back to the drawing board, and re-considering its initial idea of turning the ship into a sort of stationary mixed-use development with a museum, restaurants, hotels, and/or offices. Crystal Cruises said it will donate $350,000 to the conservancy.