December 17, 2012 – Message from Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs

The nation’s greatest ocean liner — a timeless marvel that perfectly embodies the country’s postwar power, optimism and unshakable “can-do” spirit — is rusting away at her pier. We’re calling on you to help “America’s Flagship” survive and thrive.

Dear Friend of the SS United States:

Sixty years ago, the American Dream was powerfully rendered in red, white and blue steel and aluminum. My grandfather — the ship’s designer — maintained that the SS United States embodied “the strength of a free society and individual initiative.” His words still ring true today.

Still afloat, the SS United States languishes at her pier in Philadelphia: faded, rusting, nearly forgotten — but still a spectacular sight to behold. At almost 1,000 feet from bow to stern, she’s longer than the Titanic. Her virtually indestructible hull is surprisingly sound, and her magnificent stacks still soar proudly above the waterfront. She remains a visible testament to the nation’s design, engineering and industrial might. But sadly, her time is running out.

We need your support now more than ever to ensure that this enduring symbol of American pride and innovation endures and inspires future generations.

Last year, the SS United States Conservancy’s purchase of the SS United States saved the vessel from certain scrapping. This year, the Conservancy celebrated the 60th anniversary of the ship’s historic maiden voyage, when she shattered trans-Atlantic speed records in both directions — records that stand to this day and will never be broken. However, our work is not yet done.

While the Conservancy has been making progress every day toward securing a sustainable future for the SS United States, the vessel’s maintenance costs are formidable. We have moved closer to securing a deal for the ship’s redevelopment, but terms are still being negotiated and success is not guaranteed. Without a major infusion of funds in the coming months, the vessel’s future is in dire jeopardy. To lose the SS United States while she’s still capable of being saved would be an unspeakable tragedy. Can we count on you to help at this critical time? Your tax-deductible donation of $1,000, $500, $100, $25 — or whatever amount you can spare — will make a huge difference.

Raising the necessary funds to save and restore the SS United States is our number one priority. And we’re also laying the groundwork for our SS United States Center for Design & Discovery — a museum exhibition celebrating the SS United States and her namesake nation — that will educate and inspire for decades to come.

We’ve made great strides over the course of the year. We introduced hundreds of thousands of people from across the nation and around the world to the SS United States’ plight and potential. We developed and launched a dynamic online platform and future interactive museum display, We mounted a major exhibition at The Forbes Galleries in New York, produced a second documentary film, initiated museum planning with experts from around the nation, expanded our permanent collection of SS United States art and artifacts, launched a series of public programs, and earned extensive worldwide press coverage.

Meanwhile, the SS United States Redevelopment Project launched a formal year-long process to recruit prospective development partners and investors. The ultimate goal: to harness the SS United States’ considerable economic potential and transform the vessel into a permanently moored, mixed-use attraction in an urban waterfront setting. Although we had anticipated concluding this process at the end of November, circumstances related to potential sites in both Pennsylvania and New York have required us to extend the selection timeline. The good news is that we are making steady progress in both cities and we will be able to offer a more detailed update in the very near future.

Above all else, thanks to your generous support, we succeeded in keeping America’s Flagship safe and sound during her 60th anniversary year. We’re proud to say that the SS United States’ return to glory is now closer than ever. However, the vessel’s full restoration represents a massive undertaking, and we still have many hurdles to overcome. We simply won’t be able to save the United States without your help. Your donation today is crucial to continuing the progress we’ve achieved this year.

Our immediate priorities include:

  • Preserve and protect the SS United StatesWe must grow our community of supporters committed to honoring America’s Flagship’s heritage and saving it from the wrecking ball. Our ongoing public education, media outreach and educational programs are now poised for major expansion.
  • Redevelop the ship as a mixed-use attraction. While the SS United States Redevelopment Project continues to work with prospective development partners, your donations will help us secure and sustain ongoing support from local and state governments, community stakeholders, investors and other key constituencies.
  • Establish the SS United States Center for Design & Discovery. The Conservancy’s groundbreaking museum will explore 20th century industrial innovation, the trans-Atlantic liner era, mid-century modern art and design, and American postwar history and culture. Your support will allow us to plan the facility, build our collections and develop an exciting interactive “traveling roadshow” to pave the way for our permanent exhibition. In January, we will share further details of our curatorial plans. These projects will move forward whether or not they find a home on the United States.

We urgently need your help as we work to rescue and restore the most famous ship that didn’t sink. We’re optimistic about the future, but your continued support is critical. You can play a pivotal role in saving the SS United States for future generations to enjoy and admire by making a tax-deductible contribution to our annual appeal and taking advantage of our enhanced membership benefits and donor tiers.

The United States bears the name of our great nation. To lose this treasure would, in the words of the Conservancy’s former Honorary Chair Walter Cronkite, commit a “crime against history.” As we look ahead to 2013, I know that if we all pull together, we will succeed in saving that shining symbol of America at its best — the SS United States.



Susan L. Gibbs
Executive Director, SS United States Conservancy


P.S. Please make sure you visit and purchase your own symbolic piece of the ship for yourself or as a special gift for a friend, colleague or family member. Your personalized sections of the ship will become part of our permanent museum exhibition. Thank you so much for your support!