- Nov 28, 2004
- Oslo, Norway
- Mostly my feet, occasionally a Tesla
Great news! America's flagship, the SS United States may actually sail again. Apparently Crystal Cruises are gong to do a feasibility study about rebuilding the ship to something they can use for around-the-word cruises. The proposal is to use the hull and fit it with a new superstructure, but keep the iconic smoke stacks. The ship will be based in New York, just like in old days.
A render of what it might look like in the end:A makeover of the ship could cost from $700 million to $800 million, according to Crystal?s chief executive, Edie Rodriguez, potentially a little less than building something similar from scratch. Under terms of the agreement, the company will cover the approximately $60,000-a-month cost of caring for the ship for nine months while it does a feasibility study.
Crystal will need to figure out how to renovate a ship built for a bygone era. A technological marvel of its age, the ship entered service in 1952 and sailed with three orchestras on board. It was also specially designed to be a fast troop carrier if needed.
The 2,000-passenger Big U, about as long as the Chrysler Building is tall, still holds the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic, which it set on its 1952 inaugural round trip between New York and Europe. Its top speed remained a secret for decades during the Cold War.
A concept rendering of the S.S. United States makeover shows a ship with its signature twin red, white and blue stacks and the same number of decks, a spokesman said, in contrast with the top-heavy silhouette of some modern cruise liners. The decks, however, are extended and expanded to accommodate rooms with balconies, something the original design never had. Crystal?s interest in refitting the ship, while quixotic, is not entirely without business logic.
Still, there are big challenges. It is a steam engine ship, (that?s the ?S.S.? in the name), and the geriatric equipment would have to be swapped out. The last time the ship moved under its own power was more than 40 years ago. Furthermore, some engineering areas contain toxic PCBs. It is a common problem for ships of the period, but one that means the Environmental Protection Agency will take an interest. Asked what might kill the deal, Ms. Rodriquez cited environmental obstacles that could be raised by the E.P.A. and gave an example familiar to any homeowner. A budget of $100,000 for an addition, she said, can balloon to $200,000 ?because you couldn?t get permits, because of the foundation.? That, she said, would be a ?showstopper.?