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Save the United States!
April 15, 2003 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Will the S.S. United States sail again? Norwegian Cruise Lines has purchased (NYT link) the United States, holder of the Blue Riband award for the fastest transatlantic crossing. Now a derelict hulk in Philadelphia, the colossal ship may become one of the first cruise ships registered under a U.S. flag in fifty-odd years.
posted by Vidiot (13 comments total)

 
Aren't there two cruise ships registered under a U.S. flag in Hawaii, run by American Hawaii Cruises? Of course, it took Clinton's signing into law of the U.S. Flag Cruise Ship Pilot Program in 1997 to get it started...

And, has anyone ever asked why cruise ships haven't been registered under a U.S. flag in fifty-odd years?
posted by FormlessOne at 10:16 AM on April 15, 2003


Hmm, I read something just the other day in Hawaii Magazine about NCL being granted the rights to run a cruise ship in Hawaii. Unfortunately I don't have the info in front of me, and it doesn't appear to be on their web site, but I vaguely recall there were some references to them running a US flagged ship or two in hawaii. Hmm, here's a reference to what I might be thinking about, although I see no indications of NCL in there. However, it does note that American Cruise Lines filed for bankruptcy.
posted by piper28 at 10:30 AM on April 15, 2003


Cool. I sailed on the SS United States when I was two. I wish I remembered it.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:09 AM on April 15, 2003


Heh, I've been up and down the docks at the Philly Naval Yard...you'd think I'd remember a ship this size.

I'm looking it up online, and there aren't any pictures that are jogging my memory.


These included the amphibious assault ships GUADALCANAL (LPH-7) and IWO JIMA (LPH-2); aircraft carriers SARATOGA (CV-60) and FORESTALL (CV-59); and the battleships IOWA (BB-61) and WISCONSIN (BB-64).


I remember these bad boys, though.
posted by taumeson at 11:50 AM on April 15, 2003


And, has anyone ever asked why cruise ships haven't been registered under a U.S. flag in fifty-odd years?

They'd be uncompetitively expensive, because they'd have to abide by US labor and seamanship laws instead of paying people waaaaaaay below minimum wage and working them 16--20 hrs/day like foreign cruise companies can and do.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:30 PM on April 15, 2003


err, here's the Blue Riband link that I unaccountably left out of the FPP. Had it all ready to go and everything, just forgot to paste it in.
posted by Vidiot at 12:41 PM on April 15, 2003


Aren't there two cruise ships registered under a U.S. flag in Hawaii, run by American Hawaii Cruises?

Yep. American Classic Voyages got an exemption to federal law in 1997 to flag their foreign-built ships as American an operate here, in exchange for their investing in two new American-built ships.

Of course, ACV went bankrupt while those new cruise ships were in the pipeline... thus the latest plan [b]piper28[/b] mentions.

A new act signed in February gives Norwegian Cruise Lines(and Hawaii specifically) a similar boost. NCL got the green light after vowing to complete ACL's unfinished ships (although they won't, IIRC, be completed in the U.S. anymore).

Cruise ships are a wacky part of U.S. law.

Ah, the Jones Act, which would almost make sense... if there was a giant fleet of U.S. built ships roaming the seas looking for work. Instead, it requires a cruise line serving to Hawaii to take a little detour to Fanning Island 2,400 miles away to meet its "foreign port" requirement.
posted by pzarquon at 1:17 PM on April 15, 2003


I think I have photos of the SS United States. Was it docked in Newport News, VA for a while? I am not on the same continent as the photos so it's a wee bit difficult to check at this time.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:45 PM on April 15, 2003


Dick Paris, from a history of the ship:

In November 1969, faced with on-going union troubles and declining profits, the United States was sent to the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Newport News, Virginia for her annual overhaul. As fate would have it, her boilers were never fired again. As the years passed, she remained docked in Norfolk, Virginia with little hope of revival.
posted by Vidiot at 2:16 PM on April 15, 2003


Funny, I sailed on the SS United States when I was about two also - like kirkachara above. It was a transatlantic crossing, arriving in the US for the first time from Germany (was born an Army Brat). I don't remember it either, but the story is a big one in my family, replete with seasickness, several near-disastrous scenes of a toddler-near-the-railing, and the general unpleasantness of the sleeping quarters.
posted by kokogiak at 2:23 PM on April 15, 2003


Is anyone else getting "Redirection limit for this URL exceeded" when requesting the NYT article? I've been getting that for all NYT articles since about midnight last night.
posted by rschram at 4:21 PM on April 15, 2003


taumeson, the SS United States doesn't stand out visually, despite it's huge size. It looks like a ghost ship, greyed and worn, mostly hidden by other piers, with just the smokestacks visible from a distance. I always thought she was a beautifully creepy addition to the river.

Once you notice it, you'll wonder how it is you never noticed.
posted by mosch at 10:09 PM on April 15, 2003


Thanks Vidiot. It was late here and I was not reading "under the fold".
posted by Dick Paris at 10:36 PM on April 15, 2003


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