Record-Breaking Ocean Liner with a Secret, Double Identity Was Saved from Scrapyard by Philanthropist with Ties to Chester County

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Image via the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

The SS United States, the record-breaking ocean liner that was only in service for 17 years, escaped the fate of being scrapped, thanks to renowned philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, writes Christopher Ross for CNN.

Much of Lenfest’s largesse was aimed at preservation. In 2007, he donated 568 acres of land to Chester County to form the ChesLen Preserve in Newlin Township.

In 2011, when the SS United States Conservancy needed a lifeline to save the ship that had been docked in Philadelphia since 1996, Lenfest provided it.

The ship, which had its maiden voyage in 1952, holds the record for the fastest transatlantic speed for an ocean liner. It was capable of exceeding 38 knots, making it faster than most battleships. It was also designed to be practically indestructible.

The SS United States has had many owners over time, but none knew what to do with it. When the Norwegian Cruise Line planned to scrap it in 2011, the Conservancy, with the help of a grant from Lenfest, stepped in and purchased it.

The Conservancy is now looking to revitalize the vessel as a mixed-use development with various features, such as a shipboard museum of innovation.

Read more about the SS United States at CNN here.

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