Historic ocean liner "United States" adrift, on the block

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The SS United States, America's greatest ocean liner and the fastest ship of its kind ever to cross the Atlantic, is in "imminent danger" of being sold and ripped up for scrap, according to a preservation group.

The SS United States Conservancy says Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), which owns the mothballed ship, has set a deadline this month for bids from buyers and could sell it soon to a scrapper.

"This is it," says Dan McSweeney, conservancy director. "We could lose this symbol of the United States."

In a statement, NCL says it is looking for "a suitable buyer." Asked whether that definition includes scrappers, AnneMarie Mathews of NCL says it means any "U.S. entity that has the funds to purchase the ship."

Peter Knego, an ocean liner historian, says almost all such vessels eventually are scrapped: "NCL will be vilified for this, but it's the natural order of things." He says a scrapper is the only likely buyer....

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