The plans of Crystal Cruises to reintroduce the 1952 built Trans-Atlantic liner United states back to the sea after major rebuilding probably are commercially viable, but the technical challenges to rebuild the ship may be even more formidable.
As built, the ship was powered by a massive Westinghouse steam turbine set, which was fed by eight boilers. The power plant reportedly delivered 241,785 shp and gave the vessel a trial sped of 41.77 knots.
However, such a system is enormously fuel hungry and Crystal Cruises would most likely to be forced to replace it with a more contemporary power plant. This is a major cost item.
A modern power plant would be much lighter than the original one, and although none of our team members is a naval architect, it must be fair to assume that this would impact stability of the vessel – even more so as rendering of Crystal Cruises’ plans show additional decks in the superstructure. They mean more weight.
The ship’s hull has outstanding fine lines, quite unlike any other modern passenger ship with the exception of Queen Mary 2, the Cunard Line flagship.
This means that the ship is an excellent sea boat – ample evidence of that must have accrued during the 17 years it served on the north Atlantic. However, it will probably also mean limitations to additional weight at least in the forward part of the vessel from stability points of view.
What is certainly means that modular cabins that are built ashore and slotted in on board could not be used in the hull. These would have to be built on the spot, on board. This is expensive.
On the positive side, it must fair to assume that if reintroduced as an 800 passenger luxury market vessel – this would be less than half of the ship’s original capacity – United States would probably be a very high end of the market product.
Although it is 46 years since it last went to sea, its name and history could probably still have a lot of equity in them from a marketing point of view.
Crystal Cruises’ plans call for operating the ship on the North Atlantic, in addition to cruises from US ports. The North Atlantic run, today only served by Queen Mary 2 for a handful of times per year, could probably offer great potential.
Sometimes one cannot but wonder if the modern cruise industry still lives in the memory of the bad years of the 1960s when liner voyages were a certain recipe for financial disaster, or so obsessed by its business model, that it does not really seem to think of the possibility of starting to use passenger ships in passenger transport across the oceans addition to just as platforms for holiday.