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Archived News - 1999



December 15th, 1999
Arnold Communications hires SS United States Foundation Chairman

McLean VA -- By hiring Robert Hudson Westover as a public relations account executive, Arnold Communications has not only taken on a new employee with a background that includes the United State Congress and the National Endowment for the Arts, but has also hired a client.

For nearly a year now, Arnold has been orchestrating the national media campaign for the SS United States Foundation, the organization Westover founded, under the tag line "Save the United States".

Stories about the Save the United States campaign have appeared in newspapers across the nation, including the New York Times.

Westover, who left his full time job at the National Endowment for the Arts in August to head up a 5 month advocacy effort on Capitol Hill is elated about his new position.

"I've worked with these guys so closely. We've become good friends," Westover said.

Matt Smith, Creative Director at Arnold in Washington, has even signed on as a member of the foundation's board of directors. As a child, Smith was a passenger on board the former national flagship.

"Robert is very passionate about this cause. He really pulls you into it," Smith said.

Westover started the SS United States Foundation three years ago in hopes that the1000 ft super liner would eventually be declared a National Monument. To that end Westover, and his volunteers across the nation, successfully petitioned three historic commissions for placement of the ship on the National Register of Historic Places.

Westover foresees National Monument designation--the only Federal designation that would protect the ship from scrapping--as a strong possibility. But for now, he'll have to focus his energies on his new responsibilities.

"I'll have to stop the advocacy effort at this point--at least my physical presence on Capitol Hill will have to stop. However, my new president, Dan Trachtenberg, will pick up in January where I left off."

Westover has been grooming Trachtenberg to take on the operating functions of the organization for several months now. Trachtenberg currently heads up the New York City chapter of the foundation and is an archivist at the Mariners Museum at Kings Point, Long Island.

"I knew I couldn't do the advocacy thing forever. I'm not independently wealthy and the foundation hasn't enough money to pay me a regular pay check--at least not yet."

For now Westover is looking forward to the challenges of a busy PR office.

"The encouragement at the agency is terrific. They're all very excited about the ship and prospects of saving her as a monument." Westover adds.

Westover has been hired to handle the public relations needs of ChainLinks a multi billion dollar national network of leasing brokerage firms with partner offices in nearly all major cities including Philadelphia, Atlanta
and Los Angeles.

Arnold Communications is the largest advertisement agency in the Washington DC metro area.l

November 21st, 1999

Article appearing on - Boston
Boston chair, Richard Rabbett is making more news. Good job, Rich.

November 17th, 1999

Article appearing in the BU Bridge....
This article by Hope Green appeared in the BU Bridge a staff, alumni and
student circulated publication at Boston University, the third largest
university in the nation. Good start Richard!

November 14th, 1999

Press appearing in the Philly News....
A few miles away sits another storied ship....

The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story yesterday, Friday the 12th, about the SS United States as a tie-in on the story of the arrival of the battleship USS New Jersey*. The story appeared in the front section of the paper and was written by Julie Stoiber. Below is the link to the story.

*The USS New Jersey is the most highly decorated battleship in American history.

October 26th, 1999

Foundation explores potential homeport for "Big U"....
Chairman Westover and Vice Chairman Tractenberg have met with Borough of Brooklyn President Howard Golden to discuss the boroughs help in securing a homeport for the SS United States. Mr. Golden gave us his full support in finding a pier for the vessel and his office staff is helping us look into the details of securing a free pier. Because many of the piers in Brooklyn fall under the control of the Port Authority, and consequently the city of New York (i.e. the Mayor's office), we'll have to obtain the Mayor's help as well. Fortunately, I am told that the Mayor has expressed an interest in bringing the Big U to his city.

This is, needless to say, a very important development and the first real encouragement by any major player in New York City. It is, however, not a guarantee of a homeport. Many details will have to be worked out.

October 21st, 1999
New Chapter opens in Boston...
IIt pleases me to announce the establishment of SS United States Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts. The chapter will be chaired by SSUSF Advisory Board Director, Richard Rabbett. Richard is a Faculty Administrator at Boston University and currently finishing a bachelor's degree in English Literature, also at Boston University. He can be reached in Boston at 617/327-4495 and via email at [email protected]

Because Richard is conducting several well thought out strategies to rescue the Big U, I thought I'd let him tell it in his own words:

"In terms of what the Boston chapter will be doing...hopefully by early next week I can have Big U information ready to disseminate to media sources around the area. I have already written to Senator Ted Kennedy's office (my state Senator) and Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston making them aware of this vessel and the efforts being raised to secure it a new future. I will add my voice to the chorus by writing the US Postal Service suggesting a
50th anniversary stamp for the Big U in 2002. I will also put in my suggestion for a stamp for William Francis Gibbs. I am in the process of creating two Usenet newsgroups (alt.history.ocean-liners and alt.history.ocean-liners.ssunitedstates) and contributing to discussions in current groups related to ships, travel and ocean liners about the Big U. I have a few other ideas I intend to map out more fully in the next few days and will share them with Robert at that point."

And a little about his interests:

"I have been a fan in recent years of ocean liners, an interest that began in high school over 15 years ago in the Titanic tragedy. In the last two years I have really focused my interest on a select group of the "classic" ocean liners and was stunned to discover that the United States had actually entered into this area as late as 1952 with the introduction of the SS United States. I was even more perplexed that I had never heard of this vessel, and when I discovered that it still existed (I had stumbled across Mike Alexander's brand new web site) and saw photos of this amazing vessel with its huge red, white and blue funnels, I was hooked. I made it my passion to find out everything I could on the SS United States and have been actively collecting books, ephemera and memorabilia on the ship ever since. Then I discovered the SS United States Foundation headed by an individual with a similar passion and here I am today committed to the task of making people aware of this ship and helping to secure a certain and proud new future for it."

Welcome aboard Richard!

October 2nd, 1999
New Chapter opens in Chicago...
It pleases me to announce that new a chapter of the SS United States Foundation has opened in Chicago. The chairman of the Chicago chapter is Andrew Paul Barney. Andrew first discovered the Big U through searching the web--proof positive that the internet is playing a crucial role in saving this national treasure! Andrew had the opportunity to tour the Big U during the Wogan lighting over the 4th of July weekend.

Andrew runs a small computer business out of his home and is enthusiastically heading up the effort to Save the United States in the Chicago area. Both the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune have run impressive stories on our fight to save the Big U.

Andrew can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at (815)356-5137.

Welcome aboard, Andrew!

October 2nd, 1999
Press Coverage: This Lead Story ran in Hampton Roads' Daily Press....

Group seeks yard's support to save SS United States - Article Ran in the DailyPress....
NEWPORT NEWS - Leaders of the SS United States Foundation, a nonprofit group seeking to turn the world's fastest cruise ship ever into a floating museum, met Newport News Shipbuilding officials this week to seek the yard's help in their quest....

September 20th, 1999
S.S. United States Website Full Speed Ahead -
It pleases me to announce the appointment of Mr. Paul Robinson as Advisory Board member and Web Site Director of the SS United States Foundation. Paul recently redesigned the new in-depth and well researched site with the same professionalism he brings to all sites he designs. Paul is an indispensable officer to the national organization and will be the captain of the web site, of which the Board of Directors have given him full control.

Paul's web business DigitalZone, LLC is well respected throughout the Internet and World Wide Web community. Our new web site is now one of the best designed sites out there, with links to national and international broadcasts. One of the features I enjoy most is the photo section where not only are there great pictures of the Big U, but there is a link to Phil Buehler's incredible 360 degree panoramic views of both the super structure of the SS US and the forward engine room (you'll need quick time to view this). A special thanks is extended to Paul for putting his all into this project--and he's just beginning! The site will continue to grow.

Sections to come:

One of the features will include a changing "profile section" which will highlight the dedication and accomplishments of those who have for the most part remained quietly behind the scenes helping to save this ship. Our first profile will be focused on Mike Alexander who has inspired so many of us with his terrific web site--thanks Mike!

Also look for many other wonderful sections, including an SS US F shop, where, among other things, supporters can buy T-shirts, pictures, calendars and whatever else we can put our logo on!

Please don't hesitate to spread the word about this new site. If you'd like to link your sight to ours, just let Paul know.

September 14th, 1999
New Director added to the Advisory Board -
It pleases me to announce the appointment of a new director to the advisory board. Karen Sipro, Philadelphia's premier events coordinator and events fundraiser has joined the crew of the SS United States Foundation. Karen has organized events for such prestigious organizations as the World Affairs Council, the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema and The Barrymore Awards--just to mention a few spectacular galas. Shedding the stuffy image as a traditional fundraiser, Karen calls herself an "eventologist" making every event something to remember. The SS United States has inspired Karen for many years and she has arranged with the Port Authority of Philadelphia to host a huge event--with as many as 4000 attending--on the dock beside the massive super liner (unfortunately, because of excessive insurance premiums, no events will be held aboard the ship). The event is tentatively planned for early spring.

Having already arranged many details for this event before joining--way to go Karen, take the initiative--it's just a matter of logistics and other technicalities to make this a reality. If you feel you can help Karen in anyway she can be contacted at: [email protected]

Her company, Karen Spiro EVENTures, has instant recognition in and around the tri-state region and it is an honor to have her join the fight to save one of the last great American icon of the 20th century.

September 13th, 1999
Author William H. Miller Joins Advisory Board -
It pleases me to announce the appointment of maritime historian William H.
Miller to the advisory board of the SS United States Foundation. Mr. Miller
is the nation's preeminent maritime historian and the author of numerous
books including SS United States, the Story of America's Greatest Ocean
, and his most recent book Passenger Liners American Style--now in book

September 13th, 1999
SS US Foundation / SS United States Preservation Society Merge -
It also pleases me to announce that the SS US Foundation and the SS United States Preservation Society are now officially one organization. The SS US PS was founded in 1992 by its former Chairman, William DiBenedetto. That same year, William was responsible for getting a bill introduced in Congress to save the SS United States. Unfortunately, the bill was defeated on a technicality. Now that the vessel is on the National Register of Historic Places, it is highly unlikely another bill would be so easily defeated. William is also responsible for writing the 14 page--very complicated--Federal application for listing the Big U on the National Register.

September 11th, 1999
Philadelphia Newspaper / Major News Orgs Provide Coverage -
Below is a link to the most recent story to appear in the national press. Four terrific photos ran with the piece--two of them in color. From this story alone, three mass media interviews were aired, one of them was broadcast all over the world. It was a 5 minute radio interview with the BBC World News out of London--they called me at home! The next was another radio interview with the tri-states largest morning talk show on WWBT in Philadelphia. The third was on the CBS Morning Show with our new vice-chairman, Dan Trachtenberg, giving a terrific interview--his first one! Good job Danny!

Keep spreading the word. We are succeeding in making this cause a
household word. We will Save the United States!

July 3rd - 5th, 1999
Sculptor Robert Wogan will light S.S. United States -
After 30 years of darkness the SS United States will glow again.  New York City Sculptor Robert Wogan will light the two enormous faded red white and blue funnels and the radar mast of the Big U the "greatest ship ever built", July 3rd and 4th from Sunset to Sunrise.  The lighting will coincide with the 47th anniversary of the ship's historic maiden voyage run when she easily took the fabled Blue Riband from the Queen Mary with nearly half a day to spare.  No other ship of the United States size has ever been clocked at speeds approaching her unsurpassed 44.7 knots--she held steady at 43 knots for over two hours in rough seas during her military trials in 1952.   Among her many world's most, the funnels are the biggest funnels ever placed on any ship.  At 65 feet in height, they are as high as a six story building and wide enough to park ten full sized trucks side-by-side   The lighting is a fitting tribute to her recent placement on the National Register of Historic Places (for more information see ).   Working in tandem with Wogan is artists Phil Buehler. His recent 360 degree panorama shots can be viewed at:  or    
Some of Wogan's other works can be viewed at: 

Below is how Mr. Wogan wants his installation explained.  If there are any questions please call the foundation at 703-625-3037. United Radiance is a lighting sculpture that explores how easily glory can be forgotten and to what extent our culture defines obsolescence.

The S.S. United States, once considered the greatest ocean liner ever built, now sits stripped of all interior details and left uninhabited at a pier in Philadelphia.

The lighting will visually revive the unquantifiable value of this engineering masterpiece by drawing attention to the towering stacks that rise above the docks.

The event will take place on 4th of July weekend, beginning July 3rd at sundown and remain lit through July 5th at sunrise.

The lighting sculpture can be seen from both surrounding bridges, the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Walt Whitman Bridge, and the roads that connect them on either side of the Delaware.

Every work of art has a soul. Night lights help people see.

June 3rd, 1999

S.S. United States placed on National Register of Historic Places -
Today, June the 3rd, 1999, we have made history. The SS United States was given the highest recognition as a National Treasure, by placement on the National Register of Historic Places. More.....

June 3rd, 1999

CNN Airs News Coverage on S.S. United States -
Great News!
CNN will broadcast a story on the SS United States and our effort to save it.  The piece will be about 3 minutes and was just shot yesterday on board the vessel. A link to the coverage with video is here:

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