Over the centuries, ships have been named for famous leaders, for some ideal, or even for cities and states. They have been remembered for their wartime prowess, their luxurious furnishings, or for the tragic sinking. It seems like most vehicles, like ships, planes, and trains are often best remembered if they are involved in a tragic loss. Our minds tend to vividly remember traumatic events.
Still, some vehicles have been remembered for other reasons. The Spruce Goose for example, was a plane of enormous size that was made out of wood. The Hughes Flying Boat was at one time the largest aircraft ever built. Designer Howard Hughes piloted it on its first and only flight. It flew around the world in 3 days, 19 hours and 14 minutes. The plane still exists today and is housed in the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.
RMS Queen Elizabeth II was built in 1969. From the late 1960s until 2004, the Queen Elizabeth II was the only way to cross in luxury. She sailed many areas of the globe…not just the Atlantic. She even came to port in Sidney, Australia, among other places. The QE2 did not sink either, but rather, retired in 2008, and will soon become a floating hotel in Dubai.
All of these are interesting, but there is a ship that, to me, is far more unique than these…SS United States. I’m sure you are wondering what makes this ship so special. It’s not luxury. It didn’t sink. The thing that made this ship so special is that her top speed is a state secret. How fast must a ship be able to sail, before it is considered amazing enough that it must not be told? The average person couldn’t possibly know. I suppose someone knows, but it’s a secret. The SS United States is the last of the old greyhounds, and it is still around today, slowly rusting at a Philadelphia pier…sadly. She was built with both passenger service and military use in mind. Many liners scrapped in the mid-1930s were sorely missed a few years later when WWII began…hence the secrecy about her true speed.
In comparison with airplanes, I suppose that the speed of a ship would not seem so important. Many people in the 1960s stopped using ships, until the cruise craze came along. The SS United States still holds the westbound Blue Ribbon and has now been purchased by the Norwegian Cruise Line. Time will tell how the ship, purchased in 2004 will be used. As of 2018, she hasn’t sailed, but I hope that someday she will.