Posted by: facetothewind | March 30, 2013

What do you do when you’re bored?

What do you do when you have a little free time? OK, well, maybe I don’t really want to know about THAT. One of the things I do is scour the web for films about ships, dirigibles, trains or any large moving objects. I like watching them sail, float, crash, sink all in larger than life scale and with the whole world watching. Bizarre, eh? Could be a symptom of a mild case of Aspergers. Whatever its roots, I want to share a recent find. It’s the SS United States…



From her website: The SS United States is an historic ocean liner, widely known “America’s flagship.” She is the fastest passenger ship ever built and the largest ever constructed in her namesake nation. The United States still holds the trans-Atlantic speed record and is one of the last great 20th Century ocean liners remaining in the world. Since the vessel’s launch over 60 years ago, she has served as an enduring iconic symbol of American innovation and engineering might.

From me: The reasons I find this ship interesting are several fold. First, she was made in America. In half a century we as a nation have lost our ability to make things and I think it’s important to remember the legacy of America as we circle the drain. Second, she’s big. From stem to stern she is 10 feet shy of 1,000 feet. Third: She was fast with a maximum speed of 44 mph but cruised at 35 mph or so. No other passenger ship has ever matched her speed. She crossed the Atlantic in 3 days and still holds the world record for that. Today it takes the Queen Mary 2 twice as long to do it. For crying out loud you could water ski behind her. And if you didn’t know what the SS meant. It means Steam Ship — another reason to love this ship. All passenger vessels nowadays are diesel.

Here’s a sweet little 8mm video made of a trip to the Carribean on the SS United States in the year of my birth: 1964. It was a time when the men wore crew cuts, the women wore kerchiefs and the kids wore dresses and bow ties. But perhaps not a good year for fashionable eyewear…


Finally what I love about this ship most: she’s in ruins. I love a good story of decaying grandeur, a story of riches to rags. The flagship of America is slowly coming apart, rusting, peeling and if not restored, she will eventually become a coral reef. Sigh.



She’s docked in Philadelphia, completely stripped of every furnishing.




  1. Thanks for this historical bit of nostalgia. Will it ever be restored? It made me sad to think of the days when almost everything we used was made in the U.S.A. Those days are gone for good. Hugs, Dianna

  2. Charming!

    (And for me, 33 days and counting . . . !)

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