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Memories of Captain Tucker, Relieving Master of the SS United States

Captain John S. Tucker played a pivotal role in the history of America's Flagship. Beginning with her sea trials and concluding with her final voyage, he proudly served aboard the SS United States — ultimately becoming her relieving master.

In addition to his service to the ship, the late Captain Tucker was a strong supporter of the SS United States Conservancy. He was also quite a storyteller. In fact, we were fortunate enough to be both inspired and entertained by memories from his time on board the Big U.

Recently, we shared the news of Captain Tucker's family's generous artifact donation to the Conservancy's permanent collection. The Captain's daughter, Kim Sacco, has also provided us with a pair of wonderful memories of her father.

Today, we're honored and delighted to share her words with you.

"[In 1966], we were living in New Jersey, and my entire 2nd grade from Selzer School bussed into NYC to Pier 86 for a field trip to see the SS United States. We all got off the buses and were waiting to board.

I looked up toward that massive ship, and down the gangplank came my dad, as captain, in his dress whites. I know we all had a wonderful tour, but the image of my dad walking down the that gangplank toward us is etched so vividly in my memory!

Captain John Tucker aboard the SS United States with an unidentified passenger, circa 1967-1968.

Photo courtesy of Kim Sacco.

The second most memorable experience occurred in 2002. My daughter Alexandria, who was 8 at the time, called her Papa and requested that he visit her classroom in Underhill, Vermont to share his experiences on the SS United States.

I wasn't completely sure how he would respond to that, but I needn't have worried. My parents traveled to Vermont and, on the specified day, Papa, Alex, and I arrived at school. Needless to say, he was very prepared. He brought his sextant, pictures, and mementos — a couple of boxes full.

He spoke for about 45 minutes, and you could have heard a pin drop. His storytelling skills were still on brilliant display! What I remember most clearly was watching my daughter watch her grandfather, with the same look on her face that I must have had 35 years prior... full of love, respect and pride."

- Kim Sacco, May 2019

Captain John S. Tucker escorts former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower to a shipboard press conference in 1969. Photo from the New York Daily News, donated by Kim Sacco.


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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