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Aerial photo historic SS United States in Philadelphia

Aerial photo historic SS United States in Philadelphia. Photo: Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

Historic ‘SS United States’ Faces Eviction from Philadelphia Pier

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 4308
June 18, 2024

The SS United States, America’s sole remaining historic ocean liner, is under threat of eviction from a Philadelphia pier following a recent court ruling.

Senior Judge Anita Brody of the US District Court has ordered that the SS United States must vacate its current location at Pier 82 in Philadelphia by September 12, 2024. The judgment, while protecting the vessel from an unexpected doubling of dockage fees by Penn Warehousing, has nonetheless put the future of the ship in jeopardy.

The SS United States Conservancy, the nonprofit organization that owns the ship, now faces a race against time to secure a new home for the vessel, known for being the fastest ship to cross the Atlantic.

“While the Conservancy was vindicated in not being compelled to pay a large sum of back rent to the SS United States’ pier operator, the ruling makes clear this iconic American symbol is in peril,” said Conservancy President Susan Gibbs, the granddaughter of the ship’s famed designer, William Francis Gibbs.

“The judge’s decision gives us a very limited window to find a new home for the SS United States and raise the resources necessary to move the ship and keep her safe. We must do both to avoid the tragic fate that countless supporters from around the world have worked for over a decade to prevent,” said Gibbs.

In response to the ruling, the Conservancy plans to launch an urgent campaign to save the ship and celebrate its historic legacy. In the past, supporters worldwide have always rallied to save the SS United States from potential destruction.

Moving a ship of this size is a complex and costly affair, requiring funds for insurance, tugs, surveys, and dock preparations. The Conservancy is exploring potential pier locations in the Philadelphia area and along the East Coast that can accommodate the nearly 1000-foot-long ocean liner.

Despite the pier dispute, the Conservancy unveiled a redevelopment plan for the SS United States in November 2023 with RXR and MCR Hotels. The plan will see the ship transformed into a privately funded, mixed-use destination and museum.

Since acquiring the SS United States in 2011, the Conservancy has been working relentlessly to educate the public about the ship’s historical significance and curate a major museum collection of original artifacts from the ship.

“As we approach our nation’s 250th birthday, the loss of this American masterpiece could be viewed at home and abroad as a tragic metaphor. A unique historic achievement that bears the name of our great nation should not be at grave risk of destruction,” added Gibbs. “While the Conservancy is responsibly preparing for all possible scenarios, we have great faith that our global community of supporters will help us meet this latest challenge. We must all come together to save this symbol of American pride and innovation.”

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