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The Big U's Rival in the Pacific

The SS United States was nationally renowned as both a triumph of design and engineering and a symbol of national unity.

After claiming the Blue Riband on her maiden voyage, she came to be known as "The World's Fastest Ocean Liner." And, though the years have brought about many changes for America's Flagship, it's a title she can still rightly came — to this day, no liner has made a faster roundtrip crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

But did you know that the Big U almost had some big competition in the Pacific Ocean?

In 1958, American President Lines tapped Gibbs & Cox to create the SS President Washington.

The proposed SS President Washington (below) is depicted in San Francisco, with the SS United States in New York Harbor. Image courtesy of the SS United States Conservancy European Chapter.

A 1958 news clipping about the SS President Washington. Courtesy of the Conservancy's European Chapter.

The $80-million dollar design for the SS President Washington proposed an incredibly impressive 909-foot super liner. While she would have been a full 81 feet shorter than the SS United States, the ship would've nevertheless been the largest vessel to regularly traverse the Pacific Ocean.

Ultimately, the Big U's West Coast cousin never materialized. But ocean liner enthusiasts are left to wonder "what if?"

A closer view of the SS President Washington. Courtesy of the Conservancy's European Chapter.


Have you been inspired by the SS United States? Are you in possession of an artistic depiction of America's Flagship that you'd be willing to donate to our permanent curatorial collection? We'd love to hear from you. Contact us.

Help the Conservancy ensure an inspiring future for America’s Flagship. Make a donation today.

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