Heinz Bayer sees the SS United States for the first time since it brought him to the United States from Germany in the 1960s. Courtesy of Julia Hatmaker.

Heinz Bayer sees the SS United States for the first time since it brought him to the United States from Germany in the 1960s. Courtesy of Julia Hatmaker.

A news team from PennLive was on hand at our crew reunion in September to interview attendees about what the SS United States means to them. You can now watch stories from five individuals — Heinz Bayer, who emigrated from Germany aboard the SS United States; Joe Rota, a long-time crew hand; Harold Goldfarb, who once served as the ship’s surgeon; and Susan Gibbs, granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs, and the Conservancy’s executive director.

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 Courtesy of Julia Hatmaker.

Courtesy of Julia Hatmaker.

This excellent article by Julia Hatmaker delves into the rich history of the SS United States — including William Francis Gibbs’ legendarily obsessive fireproofing — and projects what the future could hold for “the jewel of the American maritime experience.”

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We’re proud to announce that our New York Chapter carried on the tradition of participating in the New York Veterans Day Parade, also known as America’s Parade. They marched up Fifth Avenue to honor the brave individuals who served our nation, and to commemorate the SS United States’ proud career as a peacetime flagship liner always ready to serve her nation if duty called.

Thank you to our New York Chapter Co-Chairs Paul Stipkovich, Glenn Lappin and Carl Weber for leading the SS United States Conservancy’s contingent, as well as to Lloyd Burket, Ralph Casado, Eric Fahner, Jaye Maynard, Fred Rodriguez, Rita Sharkey, Mike St. Amour, Eileen Wangner, and to all the chapter members, family members, and supporters who gave their time and enthusiasm to the event. The generosity and dedication of all involved made it possible to represent the SS United States with bright, festive conviviality.

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The SS United States Conservancy welcomed over 150 guests at our 2016 Crew Reunion and Celebration, among them, seventeen former crew members, twenty-four former passengers, and several former Gibbs & Cox employees, including one of William Francis Gibbs’ former assistants!

Bill Magee, of MageeMedia Productions, did a remarkable job of capturing the spirit of the event on video. His documentation of the event ensures that stories told by the crew members that day —  and ultimately, the history of the Big U — will be preserved.

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Photo courtesy of Lori Ridington.

In an article for the Asbury Park Press, the docents of the New Jersey Maritime Museum examine the crucial role ocean liners played as troop transports during wartime, and analyze the specifics of what would have been required to convert the SS United States to a troop ship.

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Courtesy of Ken Landfield/Alaska Dispatch News.

“It’s remarkable how much information is on that sheet of paper, mostly typed with some handwritten notations,” muses Ken Landfield in an opinion piece for Alaska Dispatch News. The piece of paper in question is the ship’s manifest from the voyage that brought Landfield’s parents (and many other passengers) across the Atlantic to the United States.

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SS United States Sun Deck. Courtesy of Anders Johannessen.

SS United States Sun Deck. Courtesy of Anders Johannessen.

“After nearly 47 years in lay-up, SS United States is at a crossroads once again,” writes maritime photographer Anders Johannessen. Johannessen recently visited the ship, and came away with over 100 photographs, which he has generously made available to the public on his site “Cruise/Liner.” He accompanies the photos with his thoughts about the past and present of the SS United States.

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From the SS United States Conservancy Archives.

Senior Editor Tom Steighorst explores the unique redevelopment opportunity the SS United States offers.

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Photo of the First Class Ballroom courtesy of Robert G. Lenzer.

If you’d like a glimpse into the SS United States in her heyday, look no further than these photos of her midcentury modern interiors.

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The August 5th joint announcement released by the Conservancy and Crystal Cruises has been covered widely by media sources in the United States and beyond ranging from major print outlets to travel and maritime industry blogs: The New York Times, NY 1, Daily PressThe News TribunePortland Press HeraldNewsday, Travel Weekly, Zimbabwe Star, CBS Philly, Philadelphia Business Journal, Curbed PhiladelphiaTravel Pulse, Maritime Matters, philly.com, and Cruise Industry News.

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Dear Conservancy Supporters:

Today the SS United States Conservancy is sharing with our supporters that our option agreement with Crystal Cruises will not advance. As you know, in February of this year the Conservancy signed an exclusive option agreement with Crystal with the goal of returning the SS United States to seagoing service. Unfortunately, transforming America’s Flagship into a modern, commercial cruise ship in compliance with current international regulations proved too challenging and would have imposed major changes to the ship’s historic design well beyond those initially envisioned.

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America’s Flagship Found Structurally Sound But Technical Challenges Prevent Her Return to Modern Seagoing Service

SS United States Conservancy Will Continue To Pursue Redevelopment Opportunities

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United-States-Alexanderson-FeaturedIf the SS United States gets a new captain after all these years, “he or she will have some pretty big shoes to fill,” writes John Edwards. The last captain of the United States was Leroy John Alexanderson, a United States Lines captain and commodore who was master of the ship for the last five years of her service career.

Read the full profile of Alexanderson HERE.

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Photo courtesy of Frank Slate Brooks.

Photo courtesy of Frank Slate Brooks.

We invite you to join us for our special summer gathering, hosted by Frank Slate Brooks, Conservancy Advisory Council & Blue Riband Council member, and Southeastern Chapter co-chair.

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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.

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Photo courtesy of Byron Huart.

Although Byron Huart, maritime historian and photographer, travels the world documenting ships, the SS United States will always hold a special place in his heart. “Whenever I’m in Philly, I always go down to photograph her at sunrise or sunset,” Huart told Philadelphia Tribune staff writer Bobbi Booker. “I consider the SS United States a ship that has cheated death many times.”

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The SS United States in her current berth in Philadelphia. Photo by Shana Gray.

Hugh Lessig of the Daily Press covers the Conservancy’s recent acquisition of over 600 artifacts, and how that will further the Conservancy’s education and preservation goals. Lessig notes that in tandem with the ongoing option agreement with Crystal, the Conservancy is focused on developing a land-based exhibitions to tell the story of the SS United States in more detail.

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The Mariners’ Museum of Newport News Makes Major Donation of Furniture, Fittings, Artwork, and Historic Photos as SS United States Conservancy Advances Museum Plans

WASHINGTON DC — Continuing its commitment to protect and showcase the legacy of America’s Flagship, the SS United States, the SS United States Conservancy is proud to announce the acquisition of more than 600 artifacts to its growing curatorial collection.  The generous donation of artwork, fittings, furniture, and historic documents from the ship was made by The Mariners’ Museum of Newport News, VA, as well as the Dr. Sarah E. Forbes Collection, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hunnicutt III, and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

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The stunning Charles Lin Tissot panels as they appeared in their heyday in the SS United States’ private dining room.
(Photo courtesy of the Carl Weber collection).

The Conservancy has been moving forward “full speed ahead” with its curatorial and historic preservation programs. We are delighted to share that we’ve acquired an important panel designed by artist Charles Lin Tissot that originally hung in the SS United States‘ private dining room — the most exclusive dining area aboard the Big U. The panel, known as the “Snowflake Crystal Montage,” features crystal sculptures mounted on highly polished aluminum sheets.

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Macaulay exhibition_video still

Video still courtesy of United States Lines.

The SS United States Conservancy and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, are partnering with renowned author/illustrator and Conservancy Advisory Council Member, David Macaulayon a very exciting exhibition “Superliner United States Writes Headlines” slated to be unveiled in fall 2017.

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The SS United States docked in Philadelphia. Photo by Stephen Mallon.

The SS United States docked in Philadelphia. Photo by Stephen Mallon.

National Geographic perfectly captures the SS United States‘ magnificence and historical significance in a beautifully-illustrated story written by Robert Kunzig and photographed by Stephen Mallon.

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Crystal Cruises President and CEO Edie Rodriguez (left) and Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs (right) with Fox and Friends co-hosts

Crystal Cruises President and CEO Edie Rodriguez (left) and Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs (right) on the set of Fox and Friends

Fox and Friends interviewed Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs and Crystal Cruises President and CEO Edie Rodriguez. They discussed what the latest option-agreement has in store for America’s Flagship, and how the Conservancy’s mission to preserve her artifacts is more important than ever.

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The Conservancy’s announcement that it has entered into an option agreement with Crystal Cruises to bring the SS United States back into service in tandem with the Conservancy’s ongoing curatorial and historic preservation programs received worldwide media attention.

National television coverage included Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs and Crystal Cruises President and CEO Edie Rodriguez appearing on Fox and Friends as well as a story on CBS This Morning.

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The Conservancy’s announcement that it has entered into an option agreement with Crystal Cruises to bring the SS United States back into service in tandem with its ongoing curatorial and historic preservation programs received worldwide media attention.

The news about the SS United States’ momentous milestone went global, with stories in many international outlets. You can read the articles here: The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, Toronto Sun, La Repubblica (Italy), and La Nacion (Argentina).

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The Conservancy’s February 4 announcement that it has entered into an option agreement with Crystal Cruises to bring the SS United States back into service received extensive news coverage throughout many media outlets.

While the breaking news was covered by hundreds of television and print outlets all over the world, many travel and maritime websites and blogs also joined in and covered the news. You can read the articles and blogs here: Travel Weekly, Conde Nast Traveler, Maritime Matters, Maritime Professional, Travel Daily News, Rudy Maxa’s World with The Careys (February 6 podcast, first hour, 24:50), Travels with Anthony, Crystal Cruises, and Mark B. Perry’s Hollywood Raconteur.

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PLANS ANNOUNCED TO RESTORE AMERICA’S FLAGSHIP

Crystal signs exclusive purchase option agreement to begin work on returning the historic vessel to service as the fastest cruise vessel in the world
 

NEW YORK, February 4, 2016 – Already in the midst of the most significant expansion in the company’s celebrated history, Crystal Cruises’ next step in expanding its award-winning fleet is truly an historic endeavor. Together with the SS United States Conservancy, Crystal today announced it will save “America’s flagship,” the SS United States, and embark on the enormous undertaking of bringing the ship into compliance with the latest standards, and returning her to oceangoing service. During the announcement, made at a press conference at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York City, Crystal also committed to covering all costs associated with preserving the ship while undertaking a technical feasibility study, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

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The following statement was released by the Conservancy today:

“The Conservancy is planning to make on announcement on February 4 about the future of the SS United States. Unfortunately, we can’t provide additional information at this time, but more information will be released in the coming days. We can’t thank you enough for your continued support and enthusiasm as momentum continues to build on behalf of America’s Flagship.”

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We are thrilled to announce an exciting and generous challenge grant from a supporter who has requested anonymity. This supporter has committed $50,000 to the Conservancy – if we can match it dollar for dollar!

Funds raised will support the conservancy’s crucial preservation efforts and help us build the conservancy’s permanent curatorial collection of SS United States art and artifacts. Momentum continues to build in support of america’s flagship and the conservancy is deeply grateful for such generous support. Donations of any size can be made HERE.

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December 2015 – Soundings Magazine’s Mary South covers the SS United States

 

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Historic cruise ship gets $600,000 lifeline as preservationists save it from scrapyard November 25, 2015 – Fox News

 

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RALLYING AROUND OUR FLAGSHIP: SS UNITED STATES RECEIVES MAJOR DONATIONS, CONSERVANCY BOARD REJECTS SCRAP BIDS

Organization Working to Save and Repurpose America’s Flagship Announces More than $600,000 Raised in Seven Weeks

WASHINGTON DC… November 24, 2015 - In early October, the SS United States Conservancy was only weeks away from being forced to sell America’s Flagship to a recycler. However, thanks to the generosity of supporters from around the world to the #SaveTheUnitedStatescampaign,we are pleased to announce that we have raised sufficient funds to keep the ship afloat well into next year.  The Conservancy had announced last month that it had retained a broker to explore the ship’s sale to a U.S.-based recycler because of the financial burdens imposed by the 1,000-foot-long liner’s monthly expenses.The Conservancy acquired the SS United States in 2011 and has been working to convert the historic vessel into a mixed-use museum and development complex.

Thanks to several major donations, as well as additional contributions from more than 800 supporters, the Conservancy’s Board of Directors voted late Monday not to accept any of the three bids submitted by the recyclers. The Conservancy has now raised well over $600,000 since it issued last month’s SOS, including two $100,000 gifts and a $250,000 donation. The Conservancy’s board was also encouraged by recent progress on the redevelopment front.“People from the world over have sent a loud and clear message that the SS United States must not be destroyed,” stated Susan Gibbs, the Conservancy’s Executive Director. “From a 6th grader named Thomas in Florida who sent in a $5 bill along with a wonderful drawing of the ship in red, white, and blue magic marker, to our three extraordinary leadership donors, the outpouring of support has been incredibly encouraging.The SS United States has been given a temporary lifeline, and we are now powerfully positioned to advance our shared goal of saving America’s Flagship for future generations.”

As a result of the campaign, which was covered in hundreds of media outlets in dozens of countries, the Conservancy’s ongoing redevelopment negotiations have also gained new momentum.  Prior to October’s SOS campaign launch, the Conservancy had already identified two potential locations that could accommodate the vessel, and new investor interest in recent weeks has introduced new possibilities and programming concepts for the historic liner. “Several qualified partners have recently made site visits with their engineers, architects and executives,” said Gibbs.”The possibilities for the SS United States’ revitalization are truly exciting.”

The $250,000 donation was made by a West Coast supporter, who expressed his desire to remain anonymous. In a statement to the Conservancy’s Board he said: “Letting the SS United States go to the breakers would be like letting the Statue of Liberty be melted down and turned into pennies. Unthinkable.Imagine a future in which this incredible, one-of-a-kind symbol of American know-how has been preserved, ready to be experienced by visitors of all ages.”

Former SS United States deck officer Richard O’Leary also stepped up and contributed $100,000 to the effort.  “I believe strongly that the Conservancy’s effort must succeed,” stated O’Leary.  “This ship represents a grand example of what Americans can accomplish. To illuminate her red, white and blue stacks once again would serve as a gleaming and powerful symbol and would showcase the greatness of this country.  I invite others to join me in supporting this important cause.”

Cruise industry executive Jim Pollin, whose generous contributions and challenge grant in 2014 helped keep the ship afloat and saved one of its propellers, also contributed $100,000.  “The SS United States has again inspired people around the world to action,” Pollin said.  “What message would it send to the world if we allowed one of our soaring national symbols to be destroyed?  We can’t let that happen. We must save our Flagship.”

With the ship’s immediate future secured, the Conservancy will continue its ongoing negotiations with existing and new developers who are actively engaged in exploring options for the ship’s adaptive reuse.”This immediate lifeline gives us crucial time to finalize a redevelopment agreement that will secure a long-term sustainable solution for the ship,” said Gibbs.  “We are more confident now than we have ever been that we will finally achieve our goal and bring new life to this great symbol of American history, design, and innovation.”

 
Read the New York Times coverage of this breaking news! 

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The Conservancy is very pleased to announce receipt of a major in-kind donation: Anode Solutions Inc. and Anode Systems Company have teamed up to offer expert cathodic protection support to the SS United States.   

 

All steel-hulled ships are at risk of corrosion because of complicated chemical reactions that occur when metals meet water, and these galvanic threats can be minimized by installing “sacrificial anodes” – electrochemically active metals – on the ship’s hull. Thankfully, the brackish water of the Delaware River has minimized these threats, and the hull of the SS United States remains strong.  However, this support from Anode Solutions and Anode Systems Company will include an in-depth assessment and provide additional protection as the ship is readied for redevelopment.

 

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Image courtesy of New York Chapter C0-chair Paul Stipkovich

Image courtesy of New York Chapter C0-chair Paul Stipkovich

Although never called into duty, the SS United States was always at the ready to serve her country in the event of war. Designed for quick transformation from luxury liner to troop carrier, the SS United States could transport 15,000 troops 10,000 miles without refueling!

This past Veteran’s Day, our New York Chapter marched in “America’s Parade” in New York City – we could not have been more proud. New York Chapter members who escorted the Big U’s mighty funnels down 5th Avenue included Ely, Michael, William, Ralph, Cassie, Janette, Donald, Jaye, Carl, Glenn, Susan (and friend), Delia, Paul and Freddie.  The Conservancy also thanks board member Dan McSweeney, United War Veterans Council President, for providing us with this opportunity. Check out the photos below of our wonderful supporters who went above and beyond!

To our nation’s veterans and active-duty soldiers – we salute you!

 

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At the beginning of October, the SS United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors made the difficult decision to engage a broker to explore the possible sale of the SS United States. That decision was made in an effort to ensure that our organization was being as financially responsible as possible given the persistent challenge of covering the vessel’s $60,000 monthly carrying costs. Since that time, there has been an outpouring of support worldwide that demonstrates the enduring importance of America’s Flagship to a growing, global community. The ship has garnered major media attention from outlets at the local, national, and international levels. While the numbers are not yet final, the Conservancy has raised well over $100,000 as a result of this global call to action. These resources have given us some additional time to advance our redevelopment plans in conjunction with several potential partners. Those discussions and negotiations have picked up momentum in recent weeks as well.

This progress has been made thanks to your commitment, and we are still compiling the necessary information to help the Board fully and responsibly evaluate our current situation from a financial and redevelopment standpoint. As a result, the Board has opted to defer any additional determination about the ship’s immediate future until later this month.

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We would like to thank everyone who joined us at the Conservancy’s “Star-Spangled Fundraiser” at Philadelphia’s historic Union League on October 29.  The event raised crucial funds for the SS United States and drew Conservancy supporters from as far away as Spain, California, Hawaii, Florida, and Illinois. The event drew nine Conservancy chapter chairs from across the country and Europe, and beloved Southeastern US chapter chair, Jordan Morris, was with us in spirit.  We were also honored to have former crew members in attendance, including Joe RotaJim Green, and Alex Keisch.

The evening’s highlights included soaring musical perfomances of original songs inspired by the SS United States by renowned musicians Marc Jonson and Dan Landau.  Rachel Neitzke’s dance performance to Dan Landau’s “To Every Journey” was spellbinding.

Huge thanks to our event sponsors:

 

Dr. Marie Prewett,  Kevin Billings, Atlantic Logistics, Shady Brook Farms, Typetanic Fonts, Cardno, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Williamette Valley Vineyards, Broker’s London Dry Gin, WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey, Woodford Reserve,  Zonin1829 Wine, & Flying Fish Brewing Co.

 

Thank you to all the contributors to the event’s silent auction and raffle, including:

 

Kyle Ober, Dotty Duddy, Independence Seaport Museum, Maria Mijares, Mario Alvarez-Garcillán, Laura. D Zajac & LDZ Design, Ted Piersol & Honeybrook Gold Club, Paul Stipkovich, Glenn Lappin, and Christopher Moody & Life Celebrations Services. 
Congratulations to Paul Stipkovich and Bill Magee for receiving the Conservancy’s special awards for their ongoing outreach on behalf of the SS United States.  Ray Griffiths and his colleagues at Atlantic Logistics were also honored for their outstanding work on keeping the ship safe and secure at her Philadelphia pier.

Again, we can’t thank you enough for your support!  Momentum is truly building to Save the United States!

Photos courtesy of Kyle Ober

 

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Time running on piece of American history October 26, 2015 – NBC News

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Time running on piece of American history October 23. 2015 – Fox News

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on Fox News. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Legendary ocean liner faces scrapheap without new funds October 20. 2015 – Yahoo News (AFPTV)

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in Yahoo News (AFPTV). The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Iconic ship in danger of being scrapped, could seek N.Y. move October 20. 2015 – New York Daily News

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in New York Daily News. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Luxusliner “SS United States”: Das Ende des Kennedy-Dampfers October 19. 2015 – Spiegel Online

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in German Language Spiegel Online. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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El transatlántico “United States” se niega a morir October 16. 2015 – Periodico Digital

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured Spanish Language Periodico Digital. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Scrapyard beckons SS United States but surely the great ocean liner is worth saving October 16. 2015 – iTV

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on iTV. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Le paquebot de légende qui ne veut pas mourir October 16. 2015 – Le Matin

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on French language newspaper Le Matin. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Campaign to Save the SSUS Racing the Clock to Avoid the Scrapyard October 15. 2015 – Time Warner Cable NY1

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on Time Warner Cable NY1. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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SS United States May Be Sold for Scrap October 15. 2015 – History

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on History. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Supporters of Historic SS United States Send SOS October 15. 2015 – The Associated Press

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in The Associated Press. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Don’t Sink the SS United States October 13. 2015 – Observer

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in Observer. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Destined for the scrapyard: Once the world’s most majestic ocean liner, the SS United States is just weeks away from being recycled October 11. 2015 – Daily Mail

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on Daily Mail. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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Famed SS United States possibly doomed to the scrapyard October 10. 2015 – CBS News

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured on CBS News. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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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.”

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Friends of the S.S. United States Send Out a Last S.O.S. October 7.2015 – The New York Times

The SS United States Conservancy was recently featured in The New York Times. The Conservancy’s fundraising efforts were profiled as well as the Conservancy’s progress and urgent challenges as an end-of-month deadline looms.

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The story behind that massive ship across from IKEA: Once the fastest in the world, one day you might party there September 23, 2015 – BILLYPENN.COM

 

The SS United States was recently featured on BILLYPENN.COM as part of their ongoing “Secret Philly” series. In addition to a general history of the Big U, the SS United States Conservancy is highlighted for its ongoing work to save the ship.

You can read the full article here.

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We invite you to join us for a very special evening on October 29 at the historic Union League in Philadelphia. (Note that this event was originally scheduled for September 17.)
We are planning to recreate an evening aboard the SS United States, complete with a premier performance of original music in honor of the ship, special food and drink offerings, dancing, and more.

Corporate Sponsorship Brochure is now available with a variety of great sponsorship incentives. We are asking our members to circulate these brochures with interested parties!

Standard admission tickets are also now available for order on our website or via mail order. Be sure to RSVP and order your tickets today!

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Now Celebrated in Song, SS United States Still Needs Help August 18, 2015 – Daily Press

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(Photo courtesy of Kyle Ober)

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Ober)

On July 30, the Conservancy convened a brainstorming and planning session focused on our future SS United States ”digital exhibition.”  Renowned author-illustrator David Macaulay led participants through a discussion about how the legendary ship could potentially be explored and encountered digitally.

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Dear Conservancy Supporters:

Earlier this summer the Conservancy provided an update on the progress of our redevelopment efforts, including sharing exciting new architectural renderings.  We also announced that while redevelopment planning was advancing, our exclusive option agreement had expired, and our partners were no longer required to pay the ship’s carrying costs.
That means that to keep the ship safely afloat while pre-development due diligence is completed, we must meet our campaign goal of $180,000 to support the vessel’s short-term  insurance, pier rental and maintenance costs.  Without these additional funds, we can’t afford to cover the bills – totaling approximately $60,000 per month – needed to keep the ship in the water.
This is not the first time the SS United States has faced grave danger. She is afloat today only because people from across the country and around the world have pulled together to help.
We’ve made great strides in recent months toward finding suitable permanent locations for the ship and identifying how best to activate the ship’s commercial potential.  We have also advanced a range of potential public uses for the vessel, including a museum/educational center, performing arts space, public park amenities, energy generation, a maritime school, and a center for veteran support.  However, until a new agreement is finalized, the fate of the SS United States is in our hands.
We have asked for your help before, but we are asking again at this absolutely crucial time because we believe that America’s Flagship deserves to be given every opportunity to survive.
There are many ways to contribute and participate, from donating, giving a gift membership, posting on social media, and supporting our fall events.  Our kick-off campaign tee shirt is available HERE, and other special campaign features will be announced in the coming weeks.In the words of Advisory Council member David Macaulay, the ship “remains a powerful reminder of American ingenuity, vision, and skill, while at the same time sparking imagination and inspiring dreams yet to be realized.”

Our “dream yet to be realized” is that the revitalized SS United States will endure as an extraordinary physical space and a soaring symbol of what’s possible.  Thank you for joining us as we work to make this dream come true.  We haven’t come this far to let go of the ship’s safety line that, together, we have worked so hard to create.In gratitude,

           Susan Gibbs signature

Susan Gibbs, Executive Director

 

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National Treasure: SS United States, June 14, 2015 – Parade Magazine

Parade Magazine ran an article on the SS United States June 16, 2015. The article is part of an ongoing series by Parade that highlights the country’s most important “National Treasures.”

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contest

Instagram Contest: Model the SS United States

 

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The SS United States remains afloat today only because so many people have rallied in support of America’s Flagship.  From the Conservancy’s advisory council, chapter chairs, key donors, board, staff, former passengers and crew, and active volunteers, our community is incredible. Here are a few updates from key members of the Conservancy’s “family”:

Conservancy co-founder Dan McSweeney has taken the helm of the United War Veterans Council, departing from his position as managing director of the Conservancy’s SS United States Redevelopment Project.  Dan has made enormous contributions to the Conservancy over the years, and we are thrilled that he will remain on the Conservancy board as he assumes an important leadership role on behalf of the nation’s veterans.   

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Dutchman wants to save SS United States from demolition, April 23, 2015 – RTL Nieuws

The SS United States was featured on Dutch national television (RTL Nieuws.)  The story highlighted Conservancy Advisory Council member Casper van Hooren’s work on the successful conversion of the SS Rotterdam, an encouraging model for the SS United States.  Conservancy executive director Susan Gibbs and Conservancy supporter Charles Howland’s incredible collection of artifacts from the SS United States were also featured.

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Inspired by Pollin Challenge Grant, Anonymous Donor Jump-starts 2015 Fundraising with Generous Gift for Curatorial Planning

As we enter a new and exciting year for America’s Flagship, the Conservancy is proud to announce that we have received of one of our largest ever individual contributions. The gift of $250,000 was made by an anonymous donor who was inspired by the generosity and passion exhibited by cruise industry executive Jim Pollin. Last year Jim donated an initial $120,000, followed by a generous challenge grant. Supporters from across the country and around the world answered Jim’s call to action by donating $120,000, prompting Jim to match this amount. Jim was recently honored with the Conservancy’s National Flagship Champion Award.

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2014 Conservancy Highlights

Thanks to support from our members throughout the year, the tide has finally begun to turn for the SS United States.  The Conservancy recently announced an initial redevelopment agreement with partners committed to covering the ship’s carrying costs as their plans advance.  While many challenges loom – converting the magnificent liner into a spectacular mixed-use museum and development complex is a daunting undertaking – we’ve never been closer to saving the SS United States.  Your continued support will help us advance our shipboard museum and educational center, build our archival and curatorial collections, document and disseminate the ship’s history, plan for contingencies, and prepare the ship for her next journey.

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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.

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SS United States Crow's Nest

Photo courtesy Christine D. Hower

In June, cruise industry executive Jim Pollin pledged to match up to $100,000 of new supporter donations to benefit the SS United States. Last week, the Conservancy announced that we were only $2,072 away from that $100,000 goal. Just one week later, we are thrilled to announce that we have received $122,167 in donations eligible for matching — prompting Jim to raise his initial pledge by $20,000, and match $120,000!

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  • Without Additional Charitable Support or Development Deal, A Decision To Scrap or Sell the Historic Vessel Must be Made at End of Month
  • As Discussions with Developers andCity and State Officials Continue Conservancy Urgently Needs Additional Support
  • 650,000 sq ft Mixed-Use Development and Museum Complex Would Create 2000 Jobs, Revitalize Manhattan or Brooklyn Waterfront

NEW YORK, NY — Time is nearly up to save America’s Flagship. With 2,000 jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity hanging in the balance, America’s Flagship, the SS United States, is making her final push to return home to New York in time to avoid being sold for scrap. The SS United States Conservancy, the non-profit organization that owns the legendary 990-foot-long liner, has announced it will need to make a determination about the ship’s future by the end of this month unless resources are found in short order to help cover the vessel’s ongoing maintenance costs.

The Conservancy is urgently discussing with developers and city and state officials plans for transforming the world’s fastest ocean liner into an exciting hospitality, retail, event, restaurant, entertainment and museum complex. As was reported by the New York Times in July, potential sites for the ship are under consideration in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

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America’s flagship: Admirers of SS United States send an S.O.S. by Aaron Ernst and Joie Chen, August 12, 2013 – Al Jazeera America

As the clock ticks down, one potential investor recently submitted a formal proposal to New York’s Economic Development Corporation to bring her back home.

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Propelled by a dream, by Michael E. Ruane, July 31, 2014 – Washington Post

The SS United States Conservancy's mission makes the front page of today's Washington Post.

The SS United States Conservancy’s mission makes the front page of today’s Washington Post.

“This ship has to be saved,” she says. “It’s beyond me and my family. There’s a potency and a power that lives on. We can’t let it go.” – Susan Gibbs, Executive Director

Read the full article here.

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SS United States Could Move to Brooklyn in Months, by Dan McQuade, July 16, 2014 – philadephiamag.com

A report in the New York Times on the ship notes the Conservancy, which owns the ship, is in deep discussions about the future of the 990-foot-long ocean liner. The ship has 500,000 square feet of service…the Conservancy believes it would take $170 million to $300 million to convert it into spaces for businesses and retail uses. And, well, it’s not going to stay in Philadelphia. The Conservancy looked at many sites, but New York seems to be the most sensible one. A person “optimistic” about the chances of a deal say the move to Brooklyn could be OKed “within four to six months.”

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Keeping a Historic Ship Afloat, by Jon Hurdle, July 15, 2014 – nytimes.com

Saying the ship could be only months away from being broken up, the conservancy is in talks with three developers about its potential to become a hotel, museum, shopping and restaurant mall, entertainment complex, conference center, educational facility, or some combination of all options for reuse.

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Saving the SS United States, interview by Marty Moss-Coane (audio podcast), July 2, 2014 – WHYY Radio Times

We talk to Gibbs’ granddaughter, SUSAN GIBBS, Executive Director of the SS United States Conservancy and STEVEN UJIFUSA, historian and author of A Man and His Ship: America’s Greatest Naval Architect and His Quest to Build the SS United States.

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Jim Pollin throws lifeline to the crumbling ‘50s ocean liner SS United States by Michael E. Ruane, Washington Post, June 16, 2014

Tuesday morning, Pollin, son of the late Washington philanthropist and sports team owner Abe Pollin, announced a $120,000 gift to the District nonprofit group that owns the ship and boost to the campaign to save the liner from the scrap yard.

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Cruise Industry Executive, Son of Late Capitals, Wizards Owner Saves Historic Propeller from Destruction, Makes Largest Contribution toward Saving the United States Since 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA – With the last of the SS United States’ historic five-bladed propellers just days away from being scrapped, cruise industry executive Jim Pollin, has donated $120,000 to the SS United States Conservancy to save the propeller and support a national campaign to repurpose America’s Flagship. The donation, as well as a pledge to match an additional $100,000 in other contributions for the ship’s upkeep, was announced this morning in front of the once Top Secret 60,000-pound propeller on board the SS United States.

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Conservancy Urgently Searching for Buyer to Pay Maintenance Costs for Nation’s Flagship Will be Forced to Sell 60,000lb Propeller to Recycler If Not Sold by June 3rd,  2014

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Conservancy fighting to save America’s Flagship is in a race against time to save the historic vessel and has taken the unusual step of offering one of its propellers for sale.  The organization needs the financial resources to care for the nearly 1000-ft long vessel as they continue to negotiate with potential developers and investors to repurpose the ship as a museum and mixed-use destination.

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The SS United States Conservancy is proud to announce the upcoming exhibit, SS United States: Charting a Course for America’s Flagship, opening at the Independence Seaport Museum

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Jim Nantzx

Three-time Emmy Award winning sportscaster Jim Nantz is supporting the effort to save America’s Flagship, the SS United States. Nantz joins the likes of tennis legend Billie Jean King and NFL coaching icon Dick Vermeil in endorsing the global effort to protect this irreplaceable piece of our history.

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Herb Douglas

Bronze medalist Herb Douglas answers the call to save the SS United States.

Support for the SS United States is growing by leaps and bounds, and now more than ever the Conservancy is calling on all Americans to rally for our country’s namesake Flagship. Now that the world’s attention is focused on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, we are proud to announce that legendary Olympian Herb Douglas has answered that call and has pledged his support for saving the SS United States.

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Ravi Giberson with his lego model of the SS United States.

The Philadelphia Chapter was proud to have Ravi Giberson attend the January 2014 chapter meeting. Here, Ravi presents his lego model of the SS United States.

Ravi Giberson’s passion for the SS United States is infectious. Conservancy members and Big U fans will remember a speech he gave at a Conservancy event last summer. The Philadelphia Chapter was proud to have Ravi attend their January 2014 chapter meeting held on January 18, 2014 at Champp’s restaurant.

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The newly formed Hampton Roads Chapter will be holding it first meeting at 7:00 on Dec 12th. The meeting will be held at the Newport News Gibbs & Cox office located at 700 Thimble Shoals Blvd Suite 100, Newport News, Va. 23606.

This meeting will be a meet-and-greet where we will discuss the newly formed Chapter and work together on plans for a path forward and future events. We will also have a small presentation. Reviewing some recently taken pictures of the ship, walking deck by deck looking at the current condition of some of our favorite spaces on board the “Big U.”

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Philadelphia Holiday Party

Join the Conservancy leaders and the Philadelphia Chapter for a festive gathering with fellow SSUS supporters. Susan Gibbs will provide an up-to-the-minute update on the current status of the ship and our efforts to save her, as well as goals for the new year.

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Bow

Image of the SS United States’ bow, courtesy of Matt Rourke/AP

The Associated Press released a major story that was picked up by media outlets worldwide regarding our efforts to prepare the SS United States for redevelopment. From locations spanning California, Indiana and Washington, DC, to Nova Scotia, Australia, and the UK, people are reading about America’s Flagship’s plight and potential and sharing their stories and support. If you missed it, the full article and photos can be viewed HERE.

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Detail from Wanderer Above Philadelphia, Jonathan Ryan, 18″x24″ gouache on paper, 2013.

Local artist and MFA student, Jonathan Ryan, and his colleagues at the Tyler School of Art will open their studios to the greater Philadelphia public this weekend. Tyler is ranked among the top 10 MFA programs in Painting by U.S. News and World Report. Several of Ryan’s paintings feature the SS United States and depict parts of the ship from a unique, fresh angle.

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As those of you who have seen the SS United States at her pier in Philadelphia know, last year the Conservancy installed a 96-foot long colorful banner announcing our SavetheUnitedStates.org Campaign. Sadly, the banner has been battered by the elements and needs to be replaced. We are urgently seeking sponsors to help cover the $2,000 cost or reproduce the banner on a pro bono basis. We have already received donations from some of our generous supporters. Please let us know if you are able to help!

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Wondering what our chapters do? They provide local area support to the Conservancy and plan several fundraisers throughout the year. Chapters work closely with Conservancy staff to recruit members, secure local media coverage, and raise public awareness of the SS United States. If you’d like to see if we have a Chapter in your area, please visit our Chapters Page. And if there is not yet a Chapter near you, please reach out to us and we’ll help you start one!

Florida Calling all Florida residents! Would you like to take a more active role in helping to save the SS United States? We’d love to hear from you! The former chairman of the Conservancy’s Philadelphia Chapter has relocated to Florida and is looking for members to help get our Florida Chapter launched! The Chapter is planning a holiday celebration in December as its official kick-off meeting for anyone who would like to become a member.

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The Conservancy is pleased to announce the launch of an innovative pre-development program that will help prepare the SS United States for conversion into a mixed-use development and museum complex.  This program will include the selective reclamation of obsolete materials aboard the vessel that will help cover the ship’s carrying costs as well as advance our future SS United States Center for Design and Discovery.  Since the kick-off of the Conservancy’s $500,000 “Save Our Ship” Campaign earlier this year, we have been vigorously pursuing a range of creative fundraising approaches.  While we continue to search for a permanent location for “America’s Flagship,” this pre-development program will generate crucial revenue in support of our key goals.

Guided by an expert group of marine engineers, naval architects, maritime historians, and museum specialists, the Conservancy has identified materials aboard the vessel that must be removed prior to the ship’s redevelopment.  These items are located below B Deck in spaces closed to public view, are not part of our future preservation or curatorial plans, and are not vital to the vessel’s structural integrity.  This program will support the Conservancy’s core stewardship mission and will not alter the historic vessel’s appearance or design. All work will be carried out in full compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations.

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The SS United States Conservancy’s recent outreach events in Philadelphia–including massive illuminations atop the PECO Building and the Cira Centre and a rally in LOVE Park rally on June 18th–to save Philadelphia’s own ‘Lady in the Harbor’ and America’s Flagship, the SS United States, has garnered significant attention in the local media. Sources such as The Philadelphia Inquirer, local CBS and FOX television news affiliates, WHYY Newsworks, and iradiophilly have covered the event, highlighting the ship’s plight, the Conservancy’s SOS Campaign to raise $500,000 for the preservation of the ship, the crowd-funding platform employed at Save The United States, and the designer William Francis Gibbs’ connections to Philadelphia.

“It’s quite an extraordinary experience to go aboard the ship,” Conservancy executive director Susan Gibbs WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR affiliate. ”Even though it’s dark and there is a flashlight in hand, the ship still evokes the seagoing glamour of the 50′s and 60′s.”

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