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Liner SS United States ordered to leave berth by September

The iconic ocean liner United States is facing a new challenge in the more than decade-long struggle to repurpose the once fastest passenger ship in the world for a new use as a static attraction.

The ship has been ordered to vacate from Pier 82 in Philadelphia by 12 September 2024, prompting the non-profit that owns the ship to scramble to find a new location and cover the costs of moving the nearly 1,000ft-long vessel.

SS United States Conservancy had been fighting in court with Penn Warehousing operator of the Philadelphia pier where the vessel has languished for the past 28 years managed by a caretaker.

US District Court Senior Judge Anita Brody ruled today that the landlord could not arbitrarily double dockage fees without notice as the non-profit claimed it had done, but also ordered the vessel to leave the dock.

During the court battle, the landlord accused the ship of having damaged the berth while the Conservancy said it was all part of an effort to evict the ship.

“While the Conservancy was vindicated in not being compelled to pay a large sum of back rent to the ss United States’ pier operator, the ruling makes clear this iconic American symbol is in peril,” said Conservancy President Susan Gibbs, the granddaughter of the ship’s famed designer, William Francis Gibbs.

“The judge’s decision gives us a very limited window to find a new home for the ss United States and raise the resources necessary to move the ship and keep her safe.”

The Conservancy says it has been exploring potential pier locations in the Philadelphia area and along the East Coast able to accommodate the former ocean liner.

The Conservancy has also been engaging in targeted outreach to federal and state officials who could help with that effort.

“Relocating a ship the size of the ss United States (53,000gt) is complex and costly. It requires funds for insurance, tugs, surveys, and dock preparations to ensure the ship’s safe passage to a new home,” Gibbs said.

Since acquiring ss United States in 2011, the Conservancy has been seeking a redevelopment plan while also working to educate the public about the ship’s history.

Ships Montly - January 2024

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