The SS United States remains docked in Philadelphia.

Ultra-luxury brand Crystal Cruises has scuppered the hopes of travellers eager to return to the golden age of cruising, opting not to proceed with plans to return the classic ocean liner S.S. United States – known affectionately as ‘America’s Flagship’ – to active service.

Earlier this year, the line announced plans to conduct an extensive feasibility study into the seaworthiness of the 64-year old liner. After six months of work headed by United States Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tim Sullivan and a team of experts, the final report found the technical and commercial challenges required to get the ship moving again as an active cruise vessel would be “insurmountable”.

The US$1 million feasibility study, which Crystal described as “unprecedented for a single vessel refurbishment”, looked into how the ship could be modernised to meet today’s safety, technical and navigational standards. The assessment determined the ship was structurally sound, however a successful return to service would have required major changes and rebuilding to part of the ship’s hull and extensive modifications to accommodate modern engines and rudder arrangements.

The decayed and rusted decks of the S.S. United States
A six-month feasibility study into the S.S. United States has found the task too great to return the ship to service.

Having now abandoned the project, Crystal Cruises will make a US$350,000 (A$459,000) donation to the S.S. United States Conservancy, which will continue its work on finding a developer to turn the ship into a stationary site, such as a museum or hotel, similar to the original Queen Mary, now a permanently moored hotel in Long Beach Harbour, California. For now though, the ship remains in the Port of Philadelphia, where it has for the last 20+ years.

“We firmly believe the SS United States is an American treasure and deserves to be preserved and redeveloped as a stationary destination for future generations to experience and enjoy,” Crystal Cruises president and CEO Edie Rodriguez commented.

A rendering of the modern ship into which Crystal Cruises had hoped to turn the S.S. United States.
A rendering of the modern ship into which Crystal Cruises had hoped to turn the S.S. United States.

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