Fund Aims To Save S.S. United States - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Fund Aims To Save S.S. United States


Here's an update on "Good Day's" plan to save the S.S. United States – the one-time gem of the high seas that you drive by every day while it rots docked at pier 89 in South Philly.

Last week, "Good Day" concocted the idea of turning the ship into a casino.

Now, Fox 29's Mike Jerrick is in a panic because the ship's owner, Genting Hong Kong Ltd., has the ship up for sale – for scrap!

Steve Keeley spoke Friday morning with two people who don't want to see that happen. They want the vessel saved and shiny again like it was from 1952 to 1969, when it set the record for going back-and-forth between the U.S. and England in high style.

A fundraiser is being planned to help buy the ship.

Susan Gibbs, the granddaughter of the man who designed the ship, William Francis Gibbs, contacted Fox 29 News.

"We are cautiously optimistic," Gibbs said on the odds of seeing the S.S. United States saved. "The ship is, obviously, facing long odds but we think that Philadelphia will appreciate what an extraordinary national treasure is here in its midst. And we have seen people from around the country, really around the world, beginning to realize just what an amazing ship we have right here in Philadelphia."

Dan McSweeney, whose father was a steward on the ship, also heard that "Good Day" talked about it last week.

McSweeney, of the S.S. United States Conservancy, thinks this could be more than a labor of love and serve an important purpose.

"Absolutely, this is both a patriotic and a practical effort," McSweeney said. "Clearly this is an irreplaceable symbol of America, and that's very, very important. However, the practical side is that this could provide a lot of jobs here in Philadelphia in terms of how the ship is refurbished and in terms of hospitality or service jobs that could emerge."

They admit the ship will need to be reinvented, likely no longer going on any transatlantic voyages, and it will take a lot of work.

"But we are very excited about opportunities to preserve its historical legacy, create a maritime museum, as well as … provide jobs, provide condos – reinvent it as this fantastic economic engine and historical icon here in Philly," Gibb said.

The controversial Foxwoods Casino project planned for farther up the Delaware River has been stalled for four years. That's how "Good Day" started talking about the ship.

Would the conservancy be open to that possibility?

"I think it's certainly on the table," Gibbs said. "A casino, there was actually gambling onboard the vessel in the heyday. They used to have these elaborate pools to bet on how many miles the ship traveled each day. The casino, obviously, we'd want to work very closely with neighborhood civic associations, and it could be part of the package in refurbishing the ship. … We'd love to talk with people about it further."

McSweeney said they kicked off three months ago a "Save Our Ship Campaign," which is a national fund-raising and public-awareness effort.

So far, they have raised over $50,000. For more information, you can check out

"Essentially, what we're doing is creating a public-private partnership that can help look at how this ship can be saved, how it can be repurposed.

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