Feasibility study undermines Crystal Cruises’ SS Unites States vessel restoration

7 August 2016 (Last Updated August 7th, 2016 18:30)

A technical feasibility study has found that a number of technical and commercial obstacles associated with US-based luxury cruise line Crystal Cruise Lines’ (Crystal Cruises) SS Unites States will not allow the vessel to return to its seagoing service.

A technical feasibility study has found that a number of technical and commercial obstacles associated with US-based luxury cruise line Crystal Cruise Lines’ (Crystal Cruises) SS Unites States will not allow the vessel to return to its seagoing service.

However, the six-month long study, conducted by Crystal Cruises and its partners, with an investment of $1m, has found that the SS United States is structurally strong.

In February, Crystal Cruises entered into an exclusive option agreement with non-profit organisation SS United States Conservancy to convert the 1950s-era vessel into a modern, luxury cruise ship that would comply with modern safety and technical standards.

"The hurdles that would face us when trying to bring a 65-year-old vessel up to modern standards have proven just too great."

Following the conclusion of the feasibility study, Crystal Cruises plans to donate $350,000 to help in Conservancy’s ongoing initiative to save the ship.

Crystal Cruises president and CEO Edie Rodriguez said: “Over the past six months, Crystal has conducted an extensive feasibility study to restore ‘America’s Flagship’ to oceangoing service.

“Unfortunately, the hurdles that would face us when trying to bring a 65-year-old vessel up to modern safety, design and international regulatory compliance have proven just too great to clear in both a technically and commercially responsible manner.”

During the recently concluded study, Crystal Cruises conducted various evaluations and testing on the ship in the Port of Philadelphia, US, where it has been docked for 20 years.

The evaluation includes in-depth assessments of the ship’s structural condition; underwater inspections of the hull by divers; examination of the ship’s fuel and salt water ballasting tanks.

Furthermore, a series of engineering studies have also been conducted to realise what would be needed to bring the vessel back into service.

The technical feasibility study also concluded that modifying the SS Unites States according to the existing standards for oceangoing service (SOLAS) would require major changes to the hull that would pose stability challenges.

In addition, the installation of a modern diesel electric propulsion plant would require changing of the existing shaft lines and rebuilding around 25% of the hull to reconfigure the ship to a twin shaft-twin rudder arrangement.

SS United States Conservancy plans to restart its initiative to find developers and investors to secure the ship’s future.