In the spirit of peace and beauty, I am highlighting an ocean liner, and this is the greatest liner built in the United States. She is the SS United States, designed by one of our preeminent Naval architects, Francis Gibbs. She is also, in my opinion, one of the five greatest liners ever built. The longer they built these ships the shorter the lists of “…but” became. For example, she is fast but, her rudder is too small” or “she is beautiful and stable but too much spray over the bow hits the promenade.” The Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mary, The Normandy, and The United States had virtually eliminated the buts. They were quite simply moving cities that could transport thousands of people, safely, reliably, and comfortably in a unique unrivaled experience.
Mr. Gibbs designed the Liberty ships, which were significant contributors during the second World War. Gibbs and Cox, designed more than 70 percent of U.S. tonnage launched during World War II and as of “…2003, more than 150 warships built to the firm’s designs, including 60 percent of the U.S. Navy’s surface combatant fleet, were on active duty in nearly 20 Navies.”
The SS United States was built in 1952 for United States Lines and she was specifically designed to capture the Blue Riband, an award given to the passenger liner that records and holds the highest speed on the trans-Atlantic run.
Over the years, the competition had typically been between Cunard/White Star, and the French and German lines. The SS United States was our first attempt, and she captured the Blue Riband with ease; she still holds that record. Unfortunately she won the award as liners declined and the aircraft achieve supremacy as the preferred method of transportation. Exit elegance, comfort, grandeur, and safety and enter speed, convenience, and casualness,
Fire was always a risk on the high seas, even on contemporary ships, so Gibbs designed her to use aluminum extensively, which rendered her superstructure lighter, and hence, faster. Of the four ships referenced above, the two are still with us, the other two, The Queen Elizabeth and The Normandy, succumbed to fire, though through no deficiency in design. You can’t design something impervious to stupidity or carelessness.
She is fighting for her life now. She is the last ocean liner from the Golden Era of Sea Travel and the greatest American passenger ship built. Hopefully, she will be saved as a museum or alternate-use facility similar to the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, but if not, here she is, at speed, at sea, where she belongs. Beautiful Gal!