I'm not sure what the SS US fate will be. NCLA owns her now, and has since April 14, 2003. Recently, Star Cruises/NCL CEO has been quoted as saying that the SS US will be NCLA's next project during the Pride of Hawaii christening.
Meanwhile, NCL is busy completing the last two 92,000 tons ships, and have ordered two larger "F3" 150,000 tons ships, with an option for a third.
NCLA's startup costs have been dragging NCL's profits like an anchor recently. I doubt NCLA will do anything to the SS US until NCLA starts making profits that warrants expansion of its operations.
These web sites are very good concerning all matters associated with the SS US.
Here's a few links with statements/quotes attributed from NCL:
Dated April 14, 2003
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced today it has purchased the S/S United States, one of the country's most venerable ships built in the glory days of trans-Atlantic sea travel. NCL intends to convert the vessel to a state-of-the art, modern cruise ship and to add her to NCL's planned US flagged fleet. NCL is now evaluating options for use of the ship under US flag and determining the extent of renovations needed to convert her to a state-of-the-art, modern cruise ship that will appeal to today's vacationer. The ship is expected to offer mainland US itineraries where cruise products are not currently available. The refurbishment of the hull and superstructure will be done at US shipyards with the outfitting completed overseas.
Dated March 4, 2004
"Recently, NCL sent a project team to Philadelphia to conduct an extensive technical review of the venerable ship. We would like to report that she is in good shape and we are taking very good care of her. We have also cataloged over a hundred boxes of blueprints that we received from the previous owners. Although not a complete set, the drawings will be of real help to our technical team with their work.
When we announced the purchase of the S/S United States in April last year, we talked about her potential to become a state-of-the-art modern cruise ship in our U.S. Flagged fleet. We also talked about the fact that the purchase and restoration of the vessel would be a long-term project as we focused on Project America and our work to restore a new U.S. flag operation to the cruise industry. We intend to do our part to return the U.S. maritime industry to the greatness it once enjoyed.
Dated July 31, 2004
In a July 31, 2004 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer NCL's CEO, Colin Veitch, says he believes the SS UNITED STATES will be successful sailing on a east coast to west coast cruise route via the Panama Canal. Veitch says NCL is talking to ship yards about Big U refurbishment and that the ship could be sailing in six years.
Dated July 10, 2005 for August edition of Cruise Travel Magazine
"Once we have three ships [in the Project America fleet], we can have a look at other opportunities to grow the brand. The big one we have in mind is to rebuild the SS United States. If and when we can rebuild her, she would not be confined to any geographic area. That would be a far-ranging ship. We're in the midst of a technical evaluation to see what we could do with her. She was built in the 1950s, and there are lots of new rules, and we are doing a feasibility study on two grounds: What condition is she in, which appears to be rather good, and how can we meet today's construction rules and safety standards within the existing hull. We would not change the shape of the hull. We're talking about rebuilding the inside. As long as we can determine it's feasible, then we'll work up a complete plan and then take her up and down the coast, trans-Atlantic, Europe, around the world - wherever we can generate demand. This would be a one-off product, and I think people would sail on the ship wherever we would go."
Dated May 21, 2006
Mr. Lim talked about the power of friendship that was required to see NCL America through to this point. Interestingly, he noted that NCL America's next project would be the refurbishment and relaunching of the S.S. United States, an American-flagged ship currently in wet-dock in Philadelphia.
What has NCL been doing, and how much has been the bill?
NCL is paying some $500,000 per year for docking fees, insurance, security and other expenses as stewards of the SS United States. Generally speaking, sitting water aboard the ship is pumped at least twice per month, but more frequently as weather conditions dictate.
NCL generously made available to the Conservancy recent underwater footage of the ship that the company had commissioned to assess the hull's condition. The video showed a layer of sea grass growing on the hull but otherwise the hull appeared remarkably free of marine growth. Of particular interest to NCL was the point at which vertical hull plating met the keel plates. Apparently the hull condition appeared promising enough to warrant a dry-docking and further direct inspection.
NCL has bene spending resources upon the SS US. Let's hope they release their plans for her soon.