top of page


CLASSIC VIDEO: Building the SS United States

We are pleased to share this remarkable footage showcasing the history behind the construction of the world's fastest ocean liner, the SS United States!

The keel of the SS United States was laid on February 8th, 1950 at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, one of the most well respected shipyards on the East Coast, with a long history of contracts with the U.S. Navy. The design of the SS United States was so innovative that the details of her construction were kept top-secret. She was the first major passenger liner to be built almost entirely in drydock — safely out of the public eye.

Like what you see? Be sure to visit the SS United States Conservancy's Facebook page and

give us a 'like' — you can find new content there every week!

Dry dock construction was not designer William Francis Gibbs’ only introduction of new shipbuilding techniques for the United States. Her design incorporated the most rigid U.S. Navy standards, including strict compartmentalization to combat flooding, and dual engine rooms to provide power in case one was immobilized.

The low and graceful superstructure was built entirely in aluminum, which gave the ship a dead weight of 45,400 long tons, compared to the 77,000 long tons for the similarly sized Cunard Queens. Her lighter weight would allow her to take full advantage of the astonishing 247,785 horsepower produced by her turbines.

The keel of the SS United States during her construction in Newport News, 1950.

Unusually, all of her engine spaces aboard the SS United States were complete on her launch, thanks both to being built in a dry dock and to Gibbs’ introduction of modular construction, which cut down the construction time to sixteen months. Over 3,100 shipyard workers took the project from keel laying to delivery date in an astounding two years and three months!

The construction of this extraordinary ship was only the beginning CLICK HERE to watch exciting original footage from the vessel's 1951 christening and launch, or HERE for footage of her record-breaking maiden voyage.


The SS United States needs all of us, now more than ever — make a donation today, join one of our amazing regional Conservancy chapters or follow us on Facebook to help spread the word about America's Flagship in your own community.

Featured Posts
Donate Now
Recent Posts
bottom of page