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S.S. United States

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Old 10-29-2015, 03:57 PM
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Default S.S. United States

Not a boat but an ocean-liner still holding some record Atlantic crossing times - news this week talked about it's fate; guilty of not making any kind of contribution and hoping it somehow survives but alas, will probably never be the same even if it lives on... Welcoming any feedback regarding this ship (history, personal accounts, etc.)
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Old 06-04-2017, 08:51 PM
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ironwolf2252
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About 1966...we got orders to report back to America from Germany. Transportation would be by military transport ship...except all of the military ships had been put into service for Viet Nam. We got stuck in Bremerhaven, Germany with no place to live and no transportation back to America. We went shopping for camping gear and got a huge German house tent with all of the goodies. Then we set up camp in a campground on the water near the harbor. My Dad ..U.S. Army Master Sergeant..had to check in with the military liaison at the harbor every day looking for transportation to America. After a couple of months, he came back with our new travel orders. "report to pier # **"

We packed up the station wagon and drove to the harbor to find out what kind of ship we were going to be on. My Dad was not very optimistic. He kept saying "it'll only be a couple of weeks on the ship". There was an MP stationed in a little kiosk at the pier so my Dad checked in there. When he came back, he was grinning this huge grin. He told my Mom "we're on that one" and pointed at the United States. He parked the car where they told him to and they just hoisted the whole thing up with all of our stuff packed inside.

That ship was humongous! Saying it was big is like saying the Moon is far away. It had lots of swimming pools that I practically lived in and dining halls that were like stadiums. We left Bremerhaven and stopped in London for a day, then across the Atlantic for New York Harbor. One nite at the dining hall, my Mom and Dad got into a discussion over whether that was James Bond or not. He is..He is not, etc,. etc. I got up and walked over to his table and asked him Are you James Bond? He said Yes boy. I am James Bond 007. I told my Dad that he was right. They sent me back to get his autograph. He signed James Bond 007 Sean Connery with the date on one of those super fancy but still paper napkins with ship logo on it. I still have it stashed away someplace.

That was one of two serious memories about that ship. The other was horrible. My Mom and Dad went to a formal dinner one night. My brother and I were Army brats, world travelers and a Hillbillies son so we were ok to be left alone in the cabin with the standard warning. (You leave this cabin and I'll beat you stupid and then throw you overboard!) My brother and I had these neat bunks that folded out of the wall that we slept on. When not in use, they folded up flush with the wall. We were playing King of The Hill and he was on the top bunk. In trying to get up there, I grabbed this handle that stuck out of the wall. The bunks folded into the wall and my brother was gone! I could hear him screaming. I tried to get the bunk back out of the wall but couldn't. I decided that this was an emergency and I needed my Dad so I took off looking for him. How far could it be to the formal dining room? They ate dinner and danced for a while and then headed back to the cabin. On the way, they found me sitting on the stairs crying that the wall ate my brother. Yeah, he lived but had a touch of Claustrophobia after that. Heh heh.

We had two big German Shepherd dogs that we had bought in Germany with us. That ship had a very nice complete kennel set up on board. That ship was like a small city. On a military transport ship, they would have had to have been stuck in little cages for the entire sloooow trip.

The Captain of the ship must have thought the Viet Cong were going to fire a torpedo at him so he kept the ship running fast all of the way to New York. We made it in three and a half days. That was a speed record for a passenger ship at that time but I don't know if it still stands. They actually had lifeboat drills on one day. They made us all put our life jackets on and stand by our assigned lifeboat. In New York, they just set our car down onto the dock and we drove away.

Sorry, I don't have any specs or anything about the ship, just my personal memories. Hope it helps.
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Old 06-05-2017, 04:35 PM
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Thats a cool story Ironwolf. They ruined the boat when the stripped the interior. It was meant to show off the technology learned in WW2 as a "if we can do this to passenger ships, look out for our warships."
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Old 06-06-2017, 05:14 PM
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Kind of ironic - the part about Sean Connery - I didn't have the privilege of meeting him but I believe I saw my first JB movie - Thunderball - at the age of 4.5 in the theater aboard SS United States during a crossing from NY to France guessing '65~'66. The underwater scenes must have been a feast for young eyes and made a lasting impression... I remember sleeping on bunks but got quite a laugh out of the adventure you - ironwolf - and your brother had. My then - 15 y.o. brother made the crossing with me and our parents and a few years later my parents and I made a 2nd crossing back and 3rd over again (probably only weeks apart) around '68 for something I remember my father calling: "home leave".

Things I remember (which I don't necessarily claim are accurate) from the crossings in no particular order: how pointy, narrow, and tall the ship bow looked; the "winglets on the r,w,&b smoke stacks; during ship leaving port, passengers were issued rolled up confetti streamers, my father told me not to touch the falling streamers but young curiosity couldn't resist and resulted in painful paper cut to finger; my brother and I standing outside on the stern deck one night looking down at the water below and him telling me about sharks before going to bed. Standing waiting for an elevator and feeling a tremendous shuttering - was told it was the ship's stabilization system at work (gyro's?); realization that failure was part of life at not being able to blow up a balloon with young lungs at some kiddie party; my girlfriend showing me her father's revolver in their cabin when our parents weren't present; didn't like the one pool (indoor) I may have been in - I couldn't swim yet and probably couldn't stand up with my head above water, it was salt water, and it was a looong way down the ladder to the water's surface - probably to prevent sloshing...

Thanks for the contributions and welcome to RCU ironwolf2252.

Pics: 1) ship model box art; 2,3,4) ship brochure, 5) learning how to be sociable
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Old 06-08-2017, 08:12 AM
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Your comment about the pool sloshing triggered a memory. There was one pool that had weird ends. They were taller than the sides of the pool. The ship..even as huge as it was with all of the technology available at the time..still rolled a little. It wasn't much, not even enough to feel normally but the pools "felt" it. I remember one day, we went swimming and the surf was up! That weird pool with the high ends had ocean swells on it. From one end to the other...the swells rolled across. Us kids were having a blast but they had many many attendants standing around the sides.

On another ship at another time: We were crossing from Tampa, Florida to Rotterdam, Holland in the early 70's. I had my dog with me..a German Shepherd. The ship was a German Merchant Marine freighter. (Very cool way to cross the oceans!) My dog was set up in a private area with retractable covers on the windows but he had to stay in his cage unless I was with him. He was a very well trained Schutzhund and had been to more countries than most people had been to cities. So we're standing by the rails waiting for the ship to get underway. The tugs had already pulled us out into the channel but we weren't moving. Then a voice came over the PA system. "The 'Ironwolfs' need to report to the bridge immediately".

My Mom of course wanted to know what trouble we had caused but we were innocent this time. The Captain was waiting for us on the bridge and he was not happy! In very heavily accented English, he starts in. Who's dog is that? What kind of dog is he? Why is he loose on my ship? When I told him that he was mine and a German Shepherd, he kind of sneered. You should realize now that Germans are snobs about their German Shepherds. To them, there are two kinds of Shepherd dogs: Germans and all of the others. I was having a hard time understanding his English so I switched to German when I answered him. (I learned it at the same time as English and spoke it like a German) I told him my dog is German Shepherd dog from the Lutherwald Kennels and is Red Papered. (It don't get no better than that!!) First he was shocked to hear this American talking German German to him, then he was impressed with my dog and finally, he explained what was going on.

It seemed that my wonderful dog got lonely so he ate his way thru the metal bars on the cage and started wandering around the ship looking for me. He didn't find me but did smell/find the cargo hold where our stuff was stored. So he decided that it was his job to guard that door and hallway! Unfortunately, the crew's quarters were there too. He had them all penned up inside and wouldn't let anybody pass. The crew were imprisoned in their quarters! He was a large powerful dog and very impressive when he said "I'm warning you"!!

So the Captain is mad because his ship is just drifting in the current, the tugs are all waiting for him to start moving and his crew are not at their posts. He tells me to go with the officer and get my dog. Then he tells me to keep my dog with me all of the time everywhere I go even to the dining room. That was an adventure all by itself!!

One day, him and I are walking along a passageway from someplace to someplace else. It was storming and the seas were running high with big rollers were coming in sideways. The ship was rolling a lot. My dog was having trouble staying upright but he figured it out. If he walked along the side and just slid his body along the walls, he was fine.....until he was passing a doorway and it opened. A ships Officer was just opening his door when my dog was leaning against it. The door slammed open, my dog rolled in on top of the officer and they both piled up against the far wall. The officer was terrified because of the way they ended up: With my dogs face smushed up against his face. But my dog was smart. He knew it was just a misunderstanding. He got up and apologized the only way he knew how. He drug his tongue across the officers face. From his reaction, I don't think he liked dogs very much! heh heh.
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Old 06-13-2017, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ironwolf2252 View Post
He was a large powerful dog and very impressive when he said "I'm warning you"!!
You're blessed to have a real gift in delivery of "old war stories"; had my wife read the German merchant ship one and watched for her reaction as she burst out laughing...

Forgot to mention that I too remember at least one occasion of donning life vests, reporting deck-side for a lifeboat drill, and perhaps roll-call? (seem to remember Mom complaining & would probably be because she hated wind); was wondering if it was custom practice for this affair aboard oceanliners for safety's sake at that time.

Including some more pictures I believe are S.S. United States related: first pic - boarding the ship?; second pic - greeting captain and crew?; third pic - sitting amongst colleagues on board and probably underway. Got a couple more I know of but none outside the ship.
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Old 06-14-2017, 04:13 PM
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Thanks H5606! Yeah, he was a great dog and traveled with me everywhere. In Europe, you just have to pay a child's fare and they have to be well behaved. Trains, buses, cabs, etc. His real name was Sven Von Lutherwald but I called him Nicky. He would not let anybody but family mess with him. He didn't want strangers even petting him. When the ship arrived in Rotterdam, they set up a gangplank for people to debark. A real gangplank kind of thing that was pretty steep and had open slots between the steps. There was no way my dog could walk down that thing so I picked him up to carry him. He was 100+ pounds but he knew to hold still. At some point, I missed the step and fell...with one leg on each side of a step. Oh yeah it hurt a lot. That step got me "right there". But, I didn't let go of my dog! I had seen the violence of the water between the ships side and the dock and had already decided that if he went in, it was going to be because I fell in with him. Just then, this dock worker comes running up the gangplank and wants to take my dog....my dog...the dog who would react violently to a stranger trying to pick him up....but I didn't have any choice so I let him take my dog. Wow! He must have known what would happen if he argued with the guy because he held perfectly still. The guy set him down on the dock and stepped back. I didn't have any Dutch money yet so I gave him fifty US dollars. He didn't want to take it but I insisted. My dog gave him a look that said "Well ok. Thanks but this don't mean we're friends or anything". Then we took off for a three day ride on a train into Southern Germany. That dog had been to more countries than most people had been to cities. He was a world class traveler.
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