Statement by Susan Gibbs, Executive Director, SS United States Conservancy, August 5, 2016

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.  

To our members and supporters from across the country and around the world: we vow to do everything in our power to never “give up the ship.”  We remain deeply committed to saving this unique and powerful symbol of the nation’s strength, history, and innovation.  Crystal’s comprehensive assessments of the SS United States determined that the vessel remains in remarkably strong structural condition, as the Conservancy has long contended.  That means America’s Flagship still has enormous potential as a stationary mixed-use development and museum in New York or another urban waterfront setting.  We will immediately resume our aggressive outreach to qualified developers and investors to secure the ship’s future.

During the option period, Crystal’s technical team invested significant resources and conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the vessel.  These assessments included: underwater inspections of the hull by divers; examinations of her fuel and salt water ballasting tanks; three-dimensional scans of the entire vessel; preparation of a vessel tow plan, and a series of intensive engineering and technical studies.  Crystal has generously provided many of these materials to the Conservancy, and these will be invaluable to us as we advance redevelopment alternatives. 

We are also grateful to Crystal for providing a significant $350,000 donation to the Conservancy.  Thanks to this contribution – and the continued support from our members from across the country and around the world – the SS United States is not in immediate danger.  

The Conservancy acquired the SS United States five years ago, and together with our generous supporters we saved America’s Flagship from certain destruction.  Today more people than ever before are aware of the ship’s plight and potential and they are adamant that we save this iconic national symbol and our sole remaining ocean liner for generations to come.  The next chapter of the SS United States’ story has yet to be written, and I assure you that we are nowhere near ready to turn the final page. We will continue to advance our historic mission, full speed ahead!

The Conservancy was founded in 2004 to educate the public about the historic significance of the SS United States and protect and promote the great liner’s legacy. We are continuing to build our major museum collection and archives to fulfill our curatorial mission. Earlier this year, we announced important acquisitions to our future museum collection, including a rare panel from the ship by artist Charles Tissot and hundreds of artifacts from The Mariners Museum of Newport News.  Our past partnerships with the Independence Seaport Museum, the Forbes Galleries, and the RMS Queen Mary and our planned collaborations with the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Virginia Museum of Transportation will help us share the ship’s historic legacy with a growing audience.  We can’t thank our supporters enough for enabling us to preserve and protect America’s Flagship’s rich history. 

We are busy planning a national reunion of former crewmembers and passengers (also open to Conservancy members and the public!) to take place in Philadelphia on September 17.  Together, we have built a global movement, and we have a great deal to celebrate.  For more information about the event, please visit: vent/ss-united-states-crew-reu nion-and-celebration/

Thanks to you, our dedicated and determined supporters, the SS United States remains afloat today.  You are the reason she is still with us.  We can’t thank you enough for enabling us to preserve and protect the rich history of America’s Flagship.  Together, we will continue to work tirelessly to save the SS United States

— Susan L. Gibbs