$300,000 pledged to help buy SS United States

July 30, 2009 8:37:49 AM PDT
Philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest has pledged a $300,000 matching grant to help a nonprofit buy a historic cruise ship that is rusting away on Philadelphia's waterfront. The SS United States is the largest and fastest ocean liner ever built in the country. But it has not sailed since 1969 and has languished at Pier 82 for more than a decade.

In January, Norwegian Cruise Lines put the 990-foot vessel up for sale for an estimated $20 million.

The liner set the trans-Atlantic speed record on its maiden voyage in 1952 - a mark that still stands.

Former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, who died this month, was the honorary chairman of the SS United States Conservancy. He called the vessel's neglect "a crime against history."

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