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

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…