Life and Times of the SS United States

William Francis Gibbs

Ship Statistics

Ship Statistics


William Francis Gibbs


Newport News Shipbuilding

Original Owner United States Lines
Current Owner Norwegian Cruise Line
Launched 1952

1952 to 1969  No mechanical failures


1,972 passengers in 695 State Rooms; 1,044 crew members


4 dining salons (First, Cabin, and Tourist Classes, and a Private Salon), 26 public rooms, 3 passenger bars, 2 theaters, heated seawater pool, 19 elevators, over 7 miles of walkways, over 5 acres of open deck space, first fully air conditioned passenger liner.

Size 175 feet high (over 17 stories!); 990 feet long (about 5 city blocks long); the third largest passenger ship in the world during her service and the largest ship ever designed to navigate the Panama Canal (she could make it through with only inches to spare.)  She had an enclosed space of 53,000 gross tons (5.3 million cubic feet).
Safety Record Safest ship ever built, completely fireproof (the only wood used on board was in the pianos and the cutting boards in the galleys); most aluminum ever used in a single structure.
Propulsion System Four Westinghouse geared steam turbines rotating at 5240 RPM producing 268,000HP; four 60,000 lb. props; classified as top secret until late 1970s.
Top Speed

While there is much debate regarding her top speed, with some published reports putting it as high as 44.7 knots, the Speed Trial Statistics for the SS United States as originally presented in November of 1977 to the Society of Naval Architects and Engineers by John R. Kane, Vice President (ret.) of Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, put her fastest sea trial runs at 38.32 knots. 

More Presidents and Heads of State traveled on her than any other ship.

Her engines could produce a massive amount of horsepower, significantly more than any rival.

SS United States

241,000 HP    

Queen Mary

178,000 HP

Currently stripped and deteriorating at Pier 82 on the Delaware River in Philadelphia and awaiting an uncertain future.  

SS United States Documentary Film - The Big U - The Story of the SS United States