The decision, in November 1969, that the world’s fastest ocean liner, the SS United States, would be laid up indefinitely, brought to an end her 17-year reign as queen of the American merchant marine.
For some, who watched with pride the career of this great ship, the significance of her retirement is that America’s last transatlantic passenger liner was unable to compete effectively in the economic arena of a jet-age world.
Other observers, aware of some of the military capabilities designed into the United States, may have had a different reason to question the immobilization of an important element of national maritime strength.
Built during 1950-52 at Newport News, Virginia, by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for the United States Lines, the 51,000-gross-ton (28,000 d.w.t.) United States broke all speed records for passenger ships on her maiden voyage 3 July 1952. She logged an average speed of approximately 35 knots, becoming the first American-built liner to take the Atlantic Blue Ribbon in 100 years.