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Inspiring the Next Generation: SUNY Maritime Naval Architecture Students Tour SS United States

The SS United States, the world's fastest ocean liner, remains an icon of American industrial might, design and engineering, inspiring the next generation of naval architects and engineers. In line with the Conservancy's curatorial and educational mission, students from SUNY Maritime College recently had the opportunity to tour the vessel at her Philadelphia berth.

The students, members of the school's Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers student chapter, were encouraged to reflect upon the ways that elements of the vessel's original technology and design could be highlighted during the ship's revitalization and future conversion into a mixed-use, stationary development.

Responding to time aboard the ship, Cadet Timothy McKenna advocated for the preservation of the SS United States' original engine rooms and machinery:

"Not too many people outside of the maritime industry know much about ship propulsion techniques...To be able to show them the turbines and reduction gears would be an interesting experience for many."

SUNY Maritime Nautical Engineering students tour the SS United States. Courtesy of Michael Wolfe.

McKenna's fellow students also emphasized the educational value of preserving the vessel. Following the tour, Cadet Robert Sorensen commented:

"The Big U stands as a crucial piece of our country’s nautical history and accomplishments. I think that the design of the United States could be used for modern shipbuilding, and new vessels could take ideas from it to better their own designs."

Student Josh Reda elaborated:

"Her hull design, layout, and construction serve as a tool for engineers and should be preserved as such.”

The SS United States at her Pier 82 berth, Philadelphia. Courtesy of Anders Johannessen.

While aboard, the students also had the opportunity to learn more about SS United States designer William Francis Gibbs, who in 1916, with no prior formal training in the field, quit his job in real-estate law to devote himself to designing the world’s most advanced ocean liner.

Student Robert Peterson reflected upon the visit:

“The SS United States represents a major milestone in naval engineering and must not be forgotten. William Gibbs serves as an inspiration for many of our naval architects at SUNY Maritime College. His devotion to his design reminds us what we should be striving for here at SUNY Maritime College: absolute perfection in our design work."

The SS United States is a model of the best in American naval design, serving as a valuable educational resource for the next generation of naval architects and maritime professionals. We cannot afford to lose America's Flagship — together, we can save the SS United States!


The SS United States has always been a soaring symbol of ingenuity, innovation, and the nation's ability to join arm-in-arm to advance common goals. It is inconceivable that she has endured all of these years, only to be lost now.

Become a member of the SS United States Conservancy today, and follow us on Facebook to help spread the incredible story of the SS United States!

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