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The SS United States' First Arrival in Bremerhaven, Germany: January 3rd, 1953

On January 3rd, 1953, the SS United States arrived in Bremerhaven, Germany, for the first time. She was carrying 617 passengers, most of them American military personnel and their families.

Heading the official greeting party were Samuel Reber, Acting US High Commissioner for Germany; Dr. Hans-Christoph Seebohm, Federal Minister of Transportation, and Wilhelm Kaisen, President of the Bremen Senate.

The SS United States docked at Columbus Quay, Bremerhaven.

Photograph courtesy of Charles Anderson.

Upon the ship's arrival, remarks were made by Reber and Seebohm, with both men emphasizing the importance of international cooperation during a time of Cold War tension. Seebohm, then the Federal Minister of Transportation, stated:

"We consider it a good and happy sign that we can start this new year with a welcoming greeting for the largest and fastest ship of the American merchant marine...Let us take this event as a symbol for the successful and fruitful cooperation between us and the United States, and especially between the merchant marines of the two countries."

The SS United States seen departing from Columbus Quay, Bremerhaven.

Photograph courtesy of Charles Anderson.

In his own address, Reber, the Acting US High Commissioner at the time, expanded upon similar themes of international cooperation:

"The SS United States has, as have other American vessels coming to this port, brought the families of many American soldiers stationed in Germany. These men and their families are here today not so much because of events in the past or because of any belligerent designs for the future, but because my country and its partners in the Atlantic community recognize the urgent need to reinforce the defenses of Western Europe including those of Germany.

These men have come not as part of an army dominating foreign territory, but as members of a defense force needed to maintain a strong position in the face of the Communist might in the East and to preserve the peace."

While she was never called to serve, the design of the SS United States incorporated the most rigid U.S. Navy standards. At any time, the staterooms of America's Flagship were ready to give way to bunks, with her 500,000 square feet primed to house 15,000 U.S. military servicemen. Click HERE to read more about the vessel's top-secret military design.


The SS United States has always been a soaring symbol of American ingenuity, innovation and naval might. Help us save the Big U — become a member of the SS United States Conservancy today!

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