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Newport News Shipbuilding Employees Revisit Memories of SS United States

It is always special when the Conservancy has the opportunity to connect with former employees of Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company.

The SS United States touched many lives, and the shipyard personnel involved in her construction played a vital role in ensuring the vessel's incredible speed, safety, and incident-free service career.

The SS United States under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company.

Photograph: LIFE Magazine.

This June, Keith Harper, a great friend of the Conservancy and the current Vice President of Design at Gibbs & Cox, had the opportunity to connect with several former Newport News employees after the Conservancy was contacted by the James River Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center in Newport News.

Keith joined the center's Recreation Services Director, Shawn D. Hanberry, for a special SS United States-themed version of the center's weekly Friday programming, where he presented on the ship, her history and the current efforts of the Conservancy to an audience that included former Newport News employees excited to receive an update on the vessel they had worked to build in 1950-52.

Shawn Hanberry of the James River Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center with

Keith Harper of Gibbs & Cox. Photograph courtesy of Shawn Hanberry.

Hanberry commented following the event:

"Thank you for taking the time to make such a great difference, bringing them back some really good memories. They were sharing with one another after [Keith] left, and from what I understand, throughout the weekend!"

During the vessel's construction, over 3,100 shipyard workers took the SS United States from keel laying to delivery date in an astounding two years and three months. We owe them all an enormous debt of gratitude for their meticulous work, and the Conservancy is thrilled to have been able to give back in this small way to the Newport News Shipbuilding community.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the construction of America's greatest and sole remaining ocean liner.

Keith Harper of Gibbs & Cox presents on the SS United States to residents at the James River Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center. Photograph courtesy of Shawn Hanberry.


Together, we can ensure a brilliant second act for this global ambassador and all-American record-breaker. Make your donation today, and join the fight to save the fastest ocean liner the world has ever known!

Did you work at Newport News Shipbuilding during the construction of the SS United States or aboard the vessel during her prolific service career? We want to hear from you! Drop us a line at or CLICK HERE to learn how you can share your story today.

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