SS UNITED STATES is up for sale and could end up as scrap metal. Will the QE 2 be next?

The great ocean liner SS United States docked next to Ikea in Philadelphia has been put up for sale. A preservation group for the mothballed ocean liner fears a buyer could end up using it as scrap metal.  Steven Ujifusa, who was a volunteer production assistant for the above video, published a story on Plan Philly about the ship’s possible sale and an awareness campaign launched by The S.S. United States Conservancy to save the ship.

qe2-dubai-17.jpgThis could be an ominous sign for Cunard Line’s former liner the QE 2.

The new owners of the QE 2 may scrap her because of the credit crunch. The ship, bought by the ruler of Dubai for £50million, sailed from Britain just three months ago. There had been plans for a major refit to turn her into a sixstar hotel, but those have been scuppered by the economic downturn.

But for the S.S. United States, the possibility of being scrap metal is very real as we learn from the following story.


By Steven B. Ujifusa
For PlanPhilly


The rusting but still magnificent ocean liner moored near the South Philadelphia IKEA might be on the move after more than a decade of sitting idle. Unless something is done quickly, the S.S. United States – once a floating symbol of American might – could be yanked from her pier, towed to Asia, and run aground on a foul, oil-smeared beach. There, she will be wrenched and sliced into piles of unrecognizable scrap metal.

As of Feb. 10, 2009, Norwegian Cruise Lines/Star Cruises, the S.S. United States’ Hong Kong-based owner, are preparing to sell America’s national flagship to the highest bidder. Judging by the current economic climate, it appears that the most likely purchasers will be Chinese or Indian ship breakers. Right now, it appears that the ship has been transferred from NCL to a holding company.


The glamour and speed of the SS United States attracted celebrity passengers, including Jackie Gleason (top left) and John Wayne (top right). Above: The first-class ballroom, which was auctioned with the rest of the interior fittings in 1984. (Jackie Gleason and John Wayne photographs by Big U Photos. Interior photograph by Mark Perry Collection)

In 2003, NCL purchased the ship with the intention of restoring her as a world-class cruise liner. But these promises have come to naught.

Today, many observers are terrified that the ship- which captured world headlines in July 1952 with its record-breaking maiden voyage from New York to Southampton – will make its final voyage. If she is towed to the breakers, there will be no streamers, cheering well-wishers, or Navy planes soaring overhead to give her a final send off.


Despite the announcement that NCL is listing the 990-foot long liner for sale, advocacy groups such as the (click here for information) S.S. United States Conservancy have not given up hope.

“The word is out that it is for sale,” said Joseph Rota, a board member of the S.S. United States Conservancy and former member of the crew. “We are continuing the battle to save her.” He added, “If the company has hoped to make purchasing the ship legally confusing by transferring her to a holding company, they have accomplished their goal.”


The S.S. United States sailing from New York in the 1950s…

The Conservancy’s webpage has an ominous warning: “The S.S. United States is once again in danger. Her owners, NCL/Star Cruises, intend to list her for sale. We must work together NOW to prevent our nation’s flagship from going to the breakers.” Click here to read more of the PlanPhilly story.


The S.S. United States and QE 2 could end up like the S.S. France (aka S.S. Norway and S.S. Blue Lady) scrapped on the beaches of India two years ago.


About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.