Wow! Now this is really surprising news! I have to wonder just how much it will cost to refurbish this ship after it has been laid up for such a long period? From most reports I have seen the United States has been pretty much stripped down to the bare steel. Seems that NCL is looking at it to get around the Passenger Service Act and it could sail between US Ports if they use an American crew. What do you all think? Is this a good or wise move by NCL?
Norwegian Cruise Line Acquires U.S. Flagship S/S United States
Company to Build on New U.S.-flag Operation
Miami, April 14 - Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced today it has purchased the S/S United States, one of the country's most venerable ships built in the glory days of trans-Atlantic sea travel. NCL intends to convert the vessel to a state-of-the art, modern cruise ship and to add her to NCL's planned US flagged fleet. A relaunched S/S United States will add more than 1,000 American maritime jobs and 5,000 shoreside jobs to the 3,000 maritime jobs and 17,000 shoreside jobs that NCL's US flag initiative with Project America is predicted to generate.
Widely considered to be the greatest superliner ever built in this country, the S/S United States was engineered to be faster, safer and more technologically advanced than anything else afloat when she was christened. To this day, her Atlantic crossing record has never been matched and she remains the holder of the fabled Blue Riband.
Knowing that S/S United States faced an uncertain future, NCL moved swiftly to purchase the vessel. NCL is now evaluating options for use of the ship under US flag and determining the extent of renovations needed to convert her to a state-of-the-art, modern cruise ship that will appeal to today's vacationer. The ship is expected to offer mainland US itineraries where cruise products are not currently available. The refurbishment of the hull and superstructure will be done at US shipyards with the outfitting completed overseas. NCL is no stranger to such conversions, having converted the fabled North Atlantic liner the S/S France into cruising's first Caribbean megaship, S/S Norway.
"When we discovered this American icon was in jeopardy, we saw a unique opportunity and acted immediately. The ship is a classic, she was built in America and is eligible to operate in domestic service under existing law and regulation," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "The S/S United States would be a phenomenal addition to our US flag operation down the road. We remain focused on completing Project America and successfully introducing our innovative US flag cruise ships in Hawaii, but we will now organize a project team to work with US yards, naval engineers and architects to develop plans for what should be the fourth vessel in our US flagged fleet."
The announcement comes on the heels of NCL's recent commitment to begin a US flag operation in Hawaii. A new federal law will allow NCL to complete the stalled Project America as a US flagged and US manned operation for inter-island Hawaii cruise service. NCL purchased the partially completed first Project America ship and substantial materials and related components for the second Project America ship from Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS) in September 2002. The legislative initiative was designed to recover the US investment in Project America, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and tax receipts, and creating more than 20,000 US jobs.
On her maiden voyage, the S/S United States set an unbroken record by crossing the North Atlantic Ocean in 3 days, 10 hours and 42 minutes. Her service speed exceeded 35 knots and she was rumored to be capable of 50 knots. Designed by William Francis Gibbs, the ship is the longest passenger vessel ever built in the United States, at 990'6", was considered an engineering marvel at the time, and held a near perfect operating schedule.
NCL also announced today the purchase of another classic, American-built ship, the S/S Independence, which until October 2001 was sailing in the Hawaii trade but which was a victim of its owner's post-September 11th bankruptcy. NCL purchased the vessel at federal auction from the US Maritime Administration saving her from almost certain scrapping. The potential addition of the S/S Independence as a fifth vessel in NCL's US flag operation is being evaluated.
Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the modern cruise industry beginning in 1966 with the first dedicated cruise ships in the Caribbean and is recognized for innovation in the industry, most recently with its popular Freestyle Cruising concept. NCL also has a history of developing creative itineraries as the first company to acquire its own Caribbean island, with the development of the 7-day Hawaii/Fanning Island itinerary, and now with its Homeland Cruising program, where 13 North American port cities host NCL ships.
Given the age of the United States and improvements in shipbuilding,I can't see how it would be possible to bring her up to todays standards and still make money on the ship. She has always been very expensive to operate and being crewed in the US would seem to make operating costs so high.
I wish them well, but I have serious doubt if this can be done. Does't the United States have an problem with asbestos too?
I was totally shocked to read that, too. I was under the impression that the asbestos was a major, major issue with the ability of someone to rebuild the ship.
It just surprises me because of the ups and downs NCL has had as a corporation. They were so high up there in the early 80s, then they sunk alot of money in a project that went nowhere, remember the "Phoenix" deal? While RCI, Carnival and Princess were being realistic they wasted alot of time and money on something that never materialized.
I wish them well but I'm just very amazed. NCL used to be my favorite cruise line, I absolutely loved the Norway.
She's pretty much an empty hull with old engines. SS US was gutted down to bare metal a few years ago. *If* she's returned to service, don't go board expecting to see anything original to the ship unless NCL manages to pick up a few treasures on eBay.
It is my understanding that the asbestos issue has not been resolved. I understand the ship went to Turkey(or was going to) and then Russia to have it removed but it was not done due to costs of removal and saftey issues on how best to safley remove it.
That was the last I heard about the issue.
Does anyone infact know if the asbestos was ever removed. ??
The asbestos has been removed. Like Warren said, she is pretty much just an empty steel and aluminium shell now. You can count on having at at least her forward engine room removed but I have no idea what they will do with the other engines. Seems like it would be much better to remove them and replace them with something more cost effective. That is one of the big problems with the Norway, it still used bunker oil as fuel.
FYI....The largest (I believe) privately owned collection of S.S.U.S. artifacts resides at the Windmill Restaurant in Nags Head ,N.C. owned by Dr. Sarah E. Forbes. It makes for quite a showplace for this great historical ships memorabilia. She bought the items when the ship was in Norfolk, Va. and the owners held an auction.
I just love old liners(especially the Norway) and will welcome the United States back into service. I have family that sailed the United States to Europe and then back on the France. They loved the France but said the United States went so fast that it was a "rocking and rolling" and that a lot of formica was used throughout the ship.
It will be interesting to see how NCL completes this "makeover".
I hope to God those high pressure turbines are rebuilt to their former glory. She is twice the speed of any cruiseship today. Built by the gratest builder of them all, Francis Gibbs. A great American who gave his all to build a ship worth of the name United States.