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Historic Group Lobbies To Protect SS United States

January 20, 2006 By: Susan Young Travel Agent

Switching gears from its previous eagerness for Norwegian Cruise Line to purchase and return the historic SS United States to cruise service, the ship's foundation has filed a nomination with the National Historic Trust to have the ship placed on the trust's most endangered list. The group says that returning the ship to commercial cruise operation is incompatible with keeping the historic elements of the ship's design. The nearly 1,000-foot ship still holds the North Atlantic speed record it achieved on its maiden voyage in 1952 and is considered among the most important engineering feats of the 20th century. Robert Hudson Westover, whose organization, the S.S. United States Foundation, filed the nomination application with the National Trust, originally had been thrilled that NCL had purchased the ship. It had languished in a Philadelphia shipyard for many years. But now Westover's organization would like to see the ship converted into maritime museum celebrating American's history at sea. NCL had said when it bought the U.S. flagged ship in 2003 that eventually, if economically feasible, it would like to return the ship to sea as a modern-cruise ship. Colin Veitch, the line's president and CEO, has, in the past, told reporters that any plans for the old ship would likely involve removal of old steam engines and use of more modern propulsion technology. That's one issue where the line and the foundation are at odds. The Foundation hopes that if the National Trust selects the S.S. United States for the "11 Most Endangered" list, it will help their efforts in Congress to bring about legislation to protect the ship from any further changes.

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