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Meet Chota Peg, Top Dog of the SS United States

Among the thousands of passengers who traveled aboard the SS United States, there was one very special “crew member” who delighted everyone fortunate enough to meet him — a cocker spaniel by the name of Chota Peg.

Chota Peg (a Hindi expression meaning “small drink”) was the steadfast and loyal companion of Commodore John Anderson, who proudly served as captain of America’s Flagship from 1953 until 1964. Purchased from a Manhattan pet shop as a 4-month-old puppy, the spirited canine spent nearly his entirely life with Commodore Anderson at sea.

Chota Peg sits in on a meeting between Commodore John Anderson and the Big U’s designer, WIlliam Francis Gibbs.

Photo courtesy of Charles Anderson.

In 1943, Chota Peg’s “life at sea” began, when he accompanied Anderson on a voyage aboard the troop transport vessel, the John Ericsson. After that first trip, the young pup began to develop his sea legs, discreetly keeping his master company as Anderson rose through the ranks as a maritime officer. In 1949, he covertly traveled on the Big U’s sister ship, the SS America, before finally boarding the SS United States for the first time in 1952.

Though never technically a member of the crew, Chota Peg was Anderson’s unofficial “first mate,” helping to entertain celebrities and dignitaries who found their way onto America’s Flagship.

Chota Peg poses in front of one of the SS United States’ signature red, white, and blue funnels.

Photo courtesy of Charles Anderson.

While stormy seas did make him nervous, Chota Peg still became a regular “salty dog,” who reveled in making new friends while spending time with his master. He was often fed delicious scraps from the ship's First Class Dining Room. All told, he logged more than 2,000,000 nautical miles over the course of his maritime career.

In 1958, Chota Peg passed away peacefully on board the SS United States. He was buried at sea with full honors, and his obituary appeared in the New York Times. To this day, he remains a much loved part of the Big U’s legacy.


SS United States: The Story of America’s Greatest Ocean Liner by William H. Miller, 1991.

The Big Ship: The Story of the SS United States by Frank O. Braynard, 2011.

The Naples Record, Naples, NY. 1956.


A big "thank you" to Charles Anderson, son of Commodore John Anderson, for his contributions to this story. We'll leave off with a humorous anecdote he shared about the Big U's "top dog."

"As a young boy visiting the ship on arrival in New York, I noticed small, square hinged cut-outs on the bottom of the doors to the officers’ quarters, which I thought were designed to allow Chota Peg access to the staterooms. In fact I was later told they were to allow fire hoses to be passed into the rooms without opening the doors in case of fire." - Charles Anderson, January 2019


The SS United States has created unforgettable memories for countless former passengers and crew. We can save this magnificent vessel for future generations, but we need your help.

Do you have memories of your time aboard America’s Flagship? Send us an email at

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