Marking a significant in the effort to save and redevelop the legendary ocean liner SS United States, the SS United States Conservancy will announce that it has acquired title to the ship. A press briefing is planned for Tuesday, February 1, at 3 p.m., EST at IKEA South Philadelphia, across Columbus Boulevard from the great liner.
“We are one big step closer to ensuring that this symbol of American innovation is permanently preserved,” said Susan Gibbs, the Conservancy’s board president, whose grandfather, William Francis Gibbs, designed the legendary liner. “Now that we have secured title, we will accelerate our efforts to redevelop the nation’s flagship as a multi-purpose waterfront destination with dynamic hotel, retail, educational and museum offerings. To succeed, we will tap into the same ‘can-do’ spirit and ingenuity that the ship has embodied since her first splash in 1952.”
In July 2010, the Conservancy announced a pledge of $5.8 million by Philadelphia philanthropist H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest to purchase the vessel and maintain it for 20 months.
The ship’s owners, Norwegian Cruise Line/Genting Hong Kong ,entered an exclusive purchase option with the Conservancy last year, declining a bid twice as high from a vessel scrapper.
“This is the first time in the history of the SS United States that a group concerned primarily with the vessel’s historical significance and preservation has owned her,” said Dan McSweeney, the Conservancy’s executive director. “We can’t truly say she’s saved yet – that will happen when we establish a successful partnership to redevelop the ship – but we can say that we’re generating the right momentum to be able to achieve that goal. Thus far, New York, Philadelphia, and Miami have expressed an interest in the vessel. The total cost could be a couple of hundred million dollars but that’s comparable to land-based development on a similar scale. We’re completely committed to accomplishing this and there’s no question that we’ll succeed.”