Title Year Month Event Date RN
Open House 1952 June Saturday at 10 a.m. The SS UNITED STATES welcomes visitors on board. In a fund raiser for the Traveler’s Aid Society, admission for the “open house” is $10 for adults and 50 cents for children. 6/28/1952 101
Maiden Voyage Begins 1952 July The SS UNITED STATES departs at noon from the north berth of Pier 86 in New York. At 1436 on July 3, 1952 she passes Ambrose Light outbound and heading for Europe.
7/3/1952 102
Arrival and Record 1952 July On Monday, July 7, 1952 at 0516 am GMT she sets a new record, passing Bishop Rock. Her crossing: 3 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes. Average speed: 35.59 knots. A record still to be challenged by any large ocean liner. 7/7/1952 103
Distance Covered 1952 July The Big U steamed the 2,949 nautical miles between Ambrose Light and Bishop Rock in the Scilly Isles in a time that shaved ten hours and 2 minutes off the previous record time set by the Queen Mary 14 years earlier. 7/7/1952 104
Westbound Voyage 1 1952 July The Big U leaves Southampton - on the second half of Voyage 1, westbound for New York. 7/10/1952 105
Blue Riband, first in 100 Years 1952 July For the first time in 100 years, the Blue Riband is raised over an American made vessel on her return to New York. The U has just set a second record, highest speed for a west bound crossing - averaging 34.51 knots - the best ever (and still) crossing west against Gulf currents. Crossing time: 3 days, 12 hours and 12 minutes. 7/14/1952 106
Photo Opp 1951 May Noted photographer W.T. Radcliffe is invited on board the Conifer (a Coast Guard vessel) to photograph sea trials, and captures the first images of the ship traveling at better than 34 knots. 7/15/1952 107
Maiden Season Success 1952 December 36,000 - The number of passengers during the maiden season of the SS UNITED STATES, from July through December, 1952.
Postscript 1953 October In Philadelphia - October 1953, in a speech regarding building the SS UNITED STATES, Gibbs says,”My sole contribution in this performance is the fact that I took the responsibility for failure, and when you realize that a great ship like this is the most complicated structure or apparatus that a man puts together, you can see that that is not much of an encomium on my intelligence.”
Proof of Performance 1953 December With one full season of transatlantic service completed, the SS UNITED STATES confirms her full ability to maintain a high speed schedule on the challenging north Atlantic. The ship demonstrates an ability to maintain speed in adverse weather and remain remarkably dry when facing harsh winter storms at sea. The raked hull cut through high waves keeping spray and green water from flooding over the forward deck.
Officer Loaned to Navy 1955 July The United States Lines loans Captain Alexanderson to the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co to assist in sea trials of the new USS Forrestal. The Forrestal, has many similar engineering systems to those aboard the SS UNITED STATES.
60 Month Accounting 1956 December United States Lines reviews the first five years of Big U service. Records for her first 100 voyages (July 52 - Dec 56) revealed she had traveled 734,000 miles, averaging 30 knots. Passenger loads just shy of 95% - better than either of the Cunard liners. (Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary)
What Went Into The U? 1957 August What went into the U? Experience. In the 20 years from 1937 to 1957, Gibbs & Cox prepared designs for more than 6,400 ships - from icebreakers and mine sweepers to passenger liners. During the war years (WWII) G&C talent went into over 60 percent of all merchant ships greater than 2,000 tons. And 75 percent of the US Navy’s (destroyers, escort carriers, landing craft and more) were built to Gibbs and Cox designs and/or working plans. Like many you may adopt the term austere to describe the interiors of the Big U, but now you know why function wins over fashion aboard the world’s most powerful ocean liner.

Final Salute 1967 September Voyage 352 of the SS UNITED STATES is completed as the U enters New York and passes the offices of William Francis Gibbs. The ship whistles blast the traditional salute. 9/5/1967 114
Death of William Francis Gibbs 1967 September William Francis Gibbs dies in New York. 9/6/1967 115
SS UNITED STATES Service Ends 1969 November Finished With Engines. The last order from the bridge on the morning of November 8 at 0715. 11/8/1969 116
Final Numbers 1969 November 1,025,691 - The total number of passengers that traveled on the SS UNITED STATES in the 17 years of service. 1,002,936 transatlantic passengers, plus 22,755 cruise passengers. 11/9/1969 117
Final Numbers 1969 November 2,772,840 - nearly three million miles, the total miles steamed by the SS UNITED STATES in 17 years of service. 11/9/1969 118