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Crew Memories: SS United States Radio Operator Paul MacCarthy

The SS United States touched thousands of lives over her prolific seventeen year service career. Today, as we fight to secure a future for our nation's greatest and sole-remaining ocean liner, the Conservancy is also hard at work preserving the stories of the Big U's former passengers and crew members.

SS United States Radio Officer Paul MacCarthy served aboard the vessel from 1957-1969. He has generously shared this transmission from the ship's past with the Conservancy:

"It’s a very famous call sign. Whenever you were talking to someone from the ship, anywhere around the world, it was the first thing you would say: 'This is Superliner United States KJEH.' If you were talking to somebody in Dubai, you’d say, 'This is Kilo-Juliette-Echo-Hotel.' If you were talking to somebody nearby, you’d say KJEH, because they’d know."

Paul MacCarthy operating the radio aboard the SS United States.

Photograph courtesy of Paul MacCarthy.

MacCarthy recalls one memorable night aboard:

"It was the night before we arrived on one of the last trip coming across from the UK to New York; for dinner on the last night there were special menus and special music, all the guys would be wearing their best tuxedos, and the women in formal evening dress looking a like a million. A couple came in after dinner, they said to me, 'We want to make a call to a very small town in New Jersey, Saddle River — you’ve probably never heard of it.' 'Heard of it?' I said, 'I live in Upper Saddle River.' It’s a small world."

Radio officers aboard the SS United States, January 1962. From left: Chief Radio Officer Leslie Greer, radio officers William Holland and Earl Foster, Senior First Radio Officer Robert Theander, radio officers Stephn Gray, William Walker and Paul MacCarthy. Photograph courtesy of Paul MacCarthy.


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 and transmitting her great legacy into the future.

Do you have your own SS United States story to share? CLICK HERE to learn how, or drop us a line at

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