“The only roll on this ship is on the breakfast table.” The quote is a ‘slight’ exaggeration by Captain Harry Manning in describing seagoing qualities of the new S.S. United States. All ships roll and pitch, it’s a natural reaction to the forces of the ocean.
Some ships handled rough seas better than others. The Queen Mary was a notorious roller. In mild following seas she toddled with an awkward gait. In heavy seas she would reel over at times leaving passengers and crew to wonder if she would come back upright or carry on with the roll and capsize.
In heavy seas the United States acted like a young colt, skittish, sensitive, at times headstrong and going off course, however responded well to a steady hand at the helm. With her slim hull, speed, and light weight (compared to the Queen Mary) the United States sliced through the waves with a roll of approximately 20 degrees or more if hit by a freak swell. At times, It could be a rough ride. Safety ropes were secured in foyers and public rooms, furniture was secured. In the dining room, passengers were told not to save utensils and plates rolling off the table and hold on to the table if they felt their chair move.
With today’s stabilizer equipped ships the rock and roll, roller coaster rides of the past have been mostly reduced to a gentle sway.