Jun 6, 2016 — A Message from Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs
Dear Conservancy Supporters:
I am writing to thank you for your continued support of the SS United States and to share a brief update on our progress. As you know, in February the SS United States Conservancy signed an exclusive option agreement with Crystal Cruises in hopes of returning America’s Flagship to seagoing service. Crystal executives, including President & CEO Edie Rodriguez and her technical advisors, convened in Philadelphia over the weekend to assess progress and plans. In recent months, Crystal has been evaluating the various technical issues and requirements of the ship’s potential conversion. The historic vessel must be completely re-engineered to comply with modern rules and standards, while retaining her historic profile and visual cues. This is an exhilarating — and challenging — undertaking, and it takes time. Crystal is covering all of the ship’s monthly carrying costs as this feasibility study progresses.
Under the leadership of retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tim Sullivan, Crystal has assembled a truly impressive team of maritime experts and engineers to evaluate how the conversion could best advance. In-depth assessments of the ship’s structural condition have been performed. Underwater divers have conducted inspections of the vessel’s hull, and her fuel and salt water ballasting tanks are also being examined. Evaluations of the various products and materials used in the ship’s construction are ongoing. Because the ship’s original steam powerplant will need to be modernized and replaced, a series of intensive engineering studies are currently underway.
While Crystal’s planning advances, the Conservancy has been building up its curatorial programs. Last month we convened a high-level meeting of curatorial advisors, maritime historians, exhibit designers, and other experts to generate concepts and recommendations for future shipboard displays and an exciting land-based exhibition open to the general public. Highlights from this session will be shared in the coming weeks. We continue to expand our permanent collections, and we obtained a number of fascinating artifacts this spring. We will continue to share highlights of these acquisitions via our member updates and social media. If you don’t already “like” our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our electronic newsletter, we encourage you to do so! We also hope to see many of you next month at our special summer gathering in Greensboro, North Carolina, hosted by Blue Riband Council member Frank Slate Brooks.
In closing, we can’t thank you enough for your continued support of the SS United States Conservancy: your donations and membership contributions are vital in sustaining our ongoing preservation and curatorial efforts. We will keep you posted as plans for the ship’s restoration — and our future shipboard and land-based exhibitions and programs — continue to advance.
As William Francis Gibbs liked to say: “Here’s to the everything you want doubled, good health, and the Big Ship!”