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SS United States Crew Member Joe Rota Honored With Blue Riband Award

On Friday, May 11th, aboard the inaugural SS United States Legacy Cruise to Bermuda, the SS United States Conservancy was excited to award former crew member and founding Conservancy board member Joseph Rota the organization's prestigious honor, the Blue Riband Award.

Rota received the medal in recognition of a lifetime of service to America's Flagship — Joe held the positions of First Class elevator operator, bellboy, waiter, and photographer aboard the SS United States during her service career, and has remained a stalwart advocate for the future of the vessel as a member of the Conservancy's Board of Directors. His dedication to saving and revitalizing our nation's greatest ocean liner is an inspiration, and the Conservancy was honored with his presence aboard the Celebrity Summit for the Legacy Cruise.

The award medal was presented at a special recognition event by 13-year-old Conservancy supporter and Big U enthusiast Ryan Miller, who, together with his family, was thrilled to join the Legacy Cruise and greatly enjoyed hearing a sampling of Joe's stories about life aboard the SS United States.

Joseph Rota is presented with the Blue Riband Award by young SS United States supporter Ryan Miller at a special celebratory event aboard the SS United States Legacy Cruise.

Upon the occasion, Conservancy executive director Susan Gibbs and board member Mark B. Perry emphasized Joe's tireless outreach on behalf of the SS United States. "Joe is the heart and soul of our effort to save America's Flagship," Gibbs enthused. "He has clocked in more miles on his car, more minutes on his phone, and more energy and passion in support of the SS United States than anyone, anywhere!"

Over the years, Joe has generously shared many stories from his time aboard the SS United States. Click HERE to read one memorable tale, or watch below as he shares memories from his career during a 2016 crew reunion.

Blue Riband awardee Joseph Rota shares memories from his time as a crew member aboard the SS United States. Video recorded by at a 2016 crew reunion.

The recent SS United States Legacy Cruise to Bermuda was a week-long cruise featuring seminars and special events celebrating the irreplaceable SS United States. The event raised awareness of the ship's historic importance, along with $100,000 in support of her future revitalization, thanks to the generosity of cruise industry executive and philanthropist Jim Pollin.

Incredible SS United States supporters such as Jim Pollin and Joe Rota continue to buoy the Conservancy's efforts to save the SS United States. Their dedication to this incredible vessel has drawn many to the cause, and inspired countless others in our fight to rescue and revitalize this icon of American design and engineering. We truly cannot thank them enough!

SS United States crew member Joe Rota aboard the vessel during her service career.

Photographs courtesy of Joe Rota.


The stories of the passengers and crew members who traveled aboard the SS United States are vital to the ship's incredible history. Today, the Conservancy is preserving those memories through our Legacy Project, documenting the intangible history of America's Flagship. Do you or a family member have your own SS United States story to share? CLICK HERE to learn how, or drop us a line at

It is not too late to save our nation's greatest and sole remaining ocean liner. Join the global community fighting for the SS United States, and become a Conservancy member today.

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