The Conservancy fighting to save America’s Flagship, the SS United States, is in a race against time to save the historic vessel and has taken the unusual step of offering one of its propellers for sale.
The organization needs the financial resources to care for the nearly 1000-ft long SS United States as they continue to negotiate with potential developers and investors to repurpose the ship as a museum and mixed-use destination.
If a buyer is not found by June 3rd, the Conservancy will be forced to sell the four-blade propeller to a recycler. “In so many ways, we’ve never been closer to realizing our vision of saving America’s Flagship,” said Susan Gibbs, Executive Director of the Conservancy. “However, our time grows perilously short. We agonized over this decision, but the proceeds from this sale of the propeller will buy us some crucial time to finalize promising negotiations with investors.” Four additional propellers are currently preserved in museums and other institutions in New York and Virginia.
The Conservancy is offering this unique piece of American history to the highest offer over and above its scrap value of approximately $100,000. That price includes the removal of the prop from its current location on the Promenade Deck of the ship. The purchaser will be responsible for shipping.
Made from a composite of nickel, aluminum and bronze, all of the ship’s massive propellers were removed from the vessel’s shafts more than a decade ago. At 18 feet in diameter and weighing more than 60,000lbs, the prop’s unique design helped make the United States an engineering marvel. During construction of the ship, the innovative new design of the propellers was classified Top Secret by the U.S. Government as engineering teams worked to build the fastest ocean liner – and troop carrier – in history.
The massive power plant, sleek hull and unique propeller design ensured that the United States broke the transatlantic speed record in both directions on its maiden voyage in 1952. The ship, still thought to be the fastest large passenger vessel ever built, still holds the record.
“This is the last of its kind and the last time an SS United States propeller will be offered for sale,” continued Gibbs whose grandfather designed the ship. “Our objective is to prevent the entire ship from being lost at this time. We are hopeful someone will recognize the importance of this artifact and come forward to save it in the coming days. The alternative would be unfortunate.”
It costs the Conservancy more than $55,000 per month to maintain the SS United States in her current condition. While it has raised crucial funds from thousands of private donors, the organization has not received any government assistance for either its curatorial programs or to help advance the economic development potential of the repurposed ship. The Conservancy recently signed an agreement with a recycler for another propeller in order to pay the ship’s carrying costs.