Conservancy Board Votes to Explore Sale; Sends Out Urgent Call to Prevent Scrapping of Famed Vessel

The SS United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors has released the following statement announcing that despite considerable progress toward finding a permanent home and advancing viable redevelopment plans for America’s Flagship, the organization will be forced to sell the historic vessel to a responsible metals recycler by the end of October unless new donors or investors come forward.  The Conservancy has never been closer to saving the SS United States, nor so close to losing her.

The Conservancy’s recent progress in support of the SS United States‘ redevelopment – as well as its continued challenges – are featured in today’s New York TimesTo read the story, click here. 


As you know, the SS United States is the largest and most advanced ocean liner ever built in her namesake nation. Launched in 1952, the ship was developed as part of a top-secret Cold War project to build the fastest ship in the world. She still holds the transatlantic speed record, and is an iconic symbol of America’s post-war power, pride and innovation.


The Conservancy continues to do everything possible to support the SS United States’ redevelopment and honor the legacy of America’s Flagship through its educational and curatorial programs.


We remain profoundly grateful for your continued support. Our members and donors from across the nation and around the world have literally kept the SS United States afloat. Thank you for your donations, for purchasing tickets to our special event in Philadelphia on October 29, and for helping us spread the word. We will do everything possible to answer your questions and keep you informed in the weeks to come.


The statement from the Conservancy’s Board of Directors appears below:


“After much deliberation and consultation, the SS United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors has decided to retain a broker to explore the potential sale of America’s Flagship, the SS United States to a responsible, U.S.-based metals recycler.

“We have achieved an extraordinary amount of progress in support of the SS United States‘ potential redevelopment in recent months, including detailed plans, financial models, renderings, and engineering approaches with support from a number of major firms. In so many ways, we’ve never been closer to saving America’s Flagship, but we have also never been closer to losing this irreplaceable piece of our history. 


“The Conservancy has been very clear in its communications to its supporters and the media that the carrying costs for the vessel total more than $60,000 per month. While our fundraising effortshave enabled us to meet those continuing obligations to date, thanks to the steadfast support of donors from across the nation and around the world, the financial burdens imposed bythe ship’s ongoing expenses have become unsustainable.


“The Conservancy continues to do everything within its power to advance an outcome that protects the vessel, preserves her historical legacy, and secures a viable redevelopment program. As we have announced previously, redevelopment negotiations are ongoing. We have identified two potential locations that can accommodate the ship, and we are continuing complex talks with various entities regarding these sites. These ongoing discussions remain subject to confidentiality agreements signed by both parties.


Despite this progress in our redevelopment negotiations, the timing of additional financial support from our partners may come too late, in the absence of another party willing to support the Conservancy or assume responsibility for the vessel at this time.


If donors or investors step forward by the end of the month who are ready, willing, and able to help the Conservancy, America’s Flagship could still be saved. However, if progress toward a new sales option or an infusion of funds does not occur by October 31, 2015, we will have no choice but to negotiate the sale of the ship to a responsible U.S.-based recycler.


“Given the lead time required to broker the vessel’s potential sale, we believe it would be irresponsible to delay the start of this contingency planning.


“Choosing to explore these options was a gut-wrenching decision for the Board, but the Conservancy simply cannot exhaust all of its funds, leaving the organization in debt or with no resources to support its curatorial and education mission.


“We remain deeply committed to honoring the legacy of the SS United States through our curatorial and educational programs, and we will continue to prioritize this important work.


We take our responsibility to our supporters and to the Conservancy’s mission very seriously, which is why we believe that despite recent progress and potentially positive scenarios, this course of action is necessary.


The sale of the vessel to a recycler is by no means inevitable. We remain hopeful that our developers can continue to advance their efforts or that additional financial support will be found in time.


“The SS United States is a unique and endangered historic landmark that has captivated the imagination of millions. We are determined to do everything possible during these final weeks to try to save her.


“The SS United States supporters from across the country and around the world have become like family. We have worked together against the odds to keep the nation’s last remaining and greatest ocean liner safely afloat. The ship has faced previous dangers and has withstood them, and we hope she can beat the odds again. Anything less would be, as Walter Cronkite once said, “a crime against history.”