On the 66th anniversary of the record-breaking maiden voyage of America's Flagship — the fastest ocean liner the world has ever known — we are thrilled to share this archival clip by British Pathé, featuring the Big U's triumphant arrival in Le Harve on July 7, 1952.
Did you know that America's Flagship was a champion twice over? Scroll to the bottom of the page to see additional newsreel footage from the SS United States' celebrated return to New York on July 14, after setting the westbound record that she holds to his day!
"Blue Riband First Try! (1952)," shared by British Pathé.
The New York Times wrote on the occasion of her eastbound crossing:
"America's new mistress of the seas came to this French port tonight wearing her laurels like an aristocrat. The liner United States has shattered all records for speed of commercial vessels and is being greeted here as a seagoing engineering achievement whose performance has far surpassed rival shipping, taking to the United States for the first time in a hundred years supremacy along the merchant sea lanes.
Dressed in international code flags stretching over her towering stacks and surrealistic aluminum radar mast, the world's fastest liner docked at this trans-Atlantic terminal after a leisurely trip from the point of Bishop Rock that she had crossed at the eastern end of the western ocean racecourse.
At 6:16 a.m. Greenwich time this morning the 53,000-ton superliner crossed the finish line, having traveled from Ambrose Light, off New York Harbor in the unparalleled time of 3 days 10 hours 40 minutes. She passed Ambrose Light at 2:36 p.m. Eastern daylight time Thursday. Her average speed for 2,942 nautical miles was 35.59 knots. She beat the previous record held by the Queen Mary, over approximately the same course by 10 hours 2 minutes."
A souvenir log card from the record-breaking maiden voyage. Courtesy of Charles Anderson.
The New York Times continued, describing the passengers disembarking in Europe following the triumphant voyage:
"For the most part they are a droopy-eyed lot, since the majority of the 1,700 aboard remained up all night to witness the historic crossing of the finish line.
They were wearing colored hats and continuing the overlong last night's gala party that celebrated the victory run in advance. With the ship's band playing and the passengers moving gaily around the decks as Commodore Manning sounded a single whistle blast signifying the new record, it appeared to be an odd admixture of revelry and ritual.
A number of prominent passengers including Margaret Truman, the President's daughter, were on the bridge with the commodore by invitation at the finish line of the traditional course from Ambrose Light to Bishop Rock."
The Big U returns to New York a champion after also achieving the westbound record on her return voyage — a record that she still holds to this day. Courtesy of the Frank O. Braynard collection.
"Atlantic Queen: SS United States Sets East-West Record," clip from Universal National News, 1952.
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