The campaign to save the SS United States is running short on lifeboats. Time Warner Cable News’ Valarie D’Elia filed the following report.
"It is so hard to contemplate that her days may be numbered," said Susan Gibbs of SSUS Conservancy.
Gibbs holds out hope the same way decades old paint clings precariously to the rusted hull of America’s greatest ocean liner, SS United States. Laid up in Philadelphia for 18 years, longer than she sailed triumphantly as America’s flagship, The Big U, is closer than ever to being scrapped.
"The ship would be recycled, as the saying goes, to a US based recycler. It’s hard to talk about, we’ve worked for so long to prevent that outcome," Gibbs says.
SSUS has always had time on her side. The holder of the transatlantic speed record now needs to beat a clock that runs out at the end of October.
Gibbs, the granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs, says it costs 60-thousand dollars a month to keep the SSUS docked in Philly, languishing incongruously across the street from a generic strip mall.
Various multi-million dollar plans are in the works to revive the ship in New York City, but the deals— one placing her in Red Hook, Brooklyn —need more time and money to close.
"Components need to come together at the same time and we are getting there," Gibbs says.
Former crew member Joe Rota can’t bear to think of pulling the old girl off life-support.
"I would be devastated,” Rota says. “It would be a hole in my heart, just like you had lost a loving member of your family. It means that much."