A ship designed to knock those “condescending, supercilious bastards” down a peg

Jesse Pesta wrote a great piece on the SS United States for the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal. Fans of World’s Fastest Ocean Liner Put Out a Distress Call Sept. 29, 2009) (free content) There’s a great nostalgic slideshow which includes the below photo of the author onboard at 2 years old.

Wall St. Journal article author Jesse Pesta onboard the SS United States at 2 years old. Courtesy of Jesse Pesta via the Wall Street Journal

The quote in the title of this post comes from the naval architect, William Francis Gibbs, a very interesting character who prided himself in beating his British counterparts in designing the fastest ship in the world. In fact, this was more a matter of national than personal pride during the post World War II technology boom. That’s him in the below photo watching his ship leave NY harbor.

Naval Architect William F. Gibbs watching the S UNited States in NYC. courtesy Susan Gibbs via the Wall Street Journal

If you’ve read Mr. Pesta’s article in the Wall Street Journal and you’re still not convinced that this grand old ship should be saved to preserve an important piece of America’s maritime heritage history, please watch this trailer for the PBS documentary by Big Ship Films, Lady in Waiting.

Here’s another promo for the documentary that has some different footage and is worth watching.

Wonder what it was like to sail the Atlantic on the SS United States? Here’s a home movie from the 1950’s (via ShipGeek):

YouTube – SS United States Unknown Home Movies

Unfortunately, things look a little different now. Here’s a video from Phillip Buehler great Modern Ruins website where he rollerblades the Promenade Deck to music by the ship’s orchestra that he found on eBay. Make sure you check out all of the amazing then and now photos in the SS United States section of Modern Ruins.

YouTube – Rollerblading on the SS United States Prominade Deck

This is a project of monstrous proportions.  We can only hope that this old grand dame does not end up on a beach to broken up somewhere far away. She deserves better than that.  Please raise awareness, spread the word and share this post with people you know who might care. Thanks.

Important links:

SS United States Conservancy (website / blog)

Coalition to Save the SS United States

Mike Alexander’s SS United States Site

The “SS United States Group” on Yahoo Groups

Published by

Peter A. Mello

Father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

4 thoughts on “A ship designed to knock those “condescending, supercilious bastards” down a peg”

  1. Peter,
    I can remember so vividly, standing on the dock, looking down the bow of SS UNITED STATES in Norfolk VA during one of our cruises North on TABOR BOY when we stopped their for fuel and supplies. I went on to have a teacher at MMA who was 3rd mate on her sea trials. I was amazed at such a grand ship at the young age of 16. One of the many experiences that confirm you destiny. The people of the United States need to save the UNITED STATES to preserve HER destiny.

    1. Buck, thanks for visiting, commenting and, most importantly, raising awareness in your circles. These types of cultural icons are difficult to save but they are such an important part of our country’s history and maritime heritage.

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