The historic SS United States ocean liner has been granted a reprieve with a last-minute donation that prompted the SS United States Conservancy to extend national fundraising and outreach to save the ship.
The Conservancy had been in the midst of a $500,000 crowdfunding campaign to save the historic vessel that has to date raised nearly $200,000. On the eve of a vote by the organization’s board of directors on whether to recycle or reef the ship, a $150,000 donation by cruise industry executive Jim Pollin prompted the board to extend the fundraising campaign through mid-September.
The Conservancy had launched the “We are the United States” campaign back in May to protect the ship, which is the largest passenger vessel ever built in America and the fastest ocean liner in history. The organization is working to convert the ship, which is currently moored in Philadelphia, into a mixed-use museum and development complex, but it needs additional funds to do so. Without additional donations and developer commitments, the nonprofit will be forced to pursue other alternatives, such as converting the ship into an artificial underwater reef or recycling the vessel.
“This donation gives us more time to raise additional resources for the ship’s expenses as we continue to negotiate with prospective developers and secure a permanent location for the vessel,” said SS United States Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs in a written release. “Jim Pollin’s passion for the SS United States is inspiring and extraordinary. He is a hero to all those who care about saving our nation’s heritage.”
Last year the SS United States made headlines when Crystal Cruises floated a plan to return the ship to service. An intensive, six-month evaluation, however, found that the technical and commercial challenges required to bring the ship up to modern regulatory standards rendered the proposal unfeasible.
The SS United States was built as part of a top secret Cold War program to build the fastest ship in history, and it still holds the transatlantic speed record. Over the course of its history the ship has played host to world leaders, theater and movie stars, tourists and immigrants.