Born within sight of AMERICA’s shipbuilding cradle, Bill attended her launching ceremonies in August, 1939 at the tender age of three. That inspiration, coupled with a childhood of frequent visual and audible memories of her – both as AMERICA and WEST POINT - created the basis for his life-long affection for this former Queen of the American Merchant Marine.
Bill entered the NNS Apprentice School in 1954, just in time to work briefly on the AMERICA a year later when she came to the shipyard for one of her annual voyage repair sessions. On numerous occasions, he was present on a riverfront bluff as the AMERICA visited her birthplace. And he was there in 1964 when she sailed away – forever – to begin a new career as Chandris Line’s AUSTRALIS.
By this time, he was completely engaged in work involving navy nuclear propulsion plants for aircraft carriers. Bill considers his greatest achievement during almost 30 years as a shipbuilder being a part of the team that designed the propulsion system for the highly successful NIMITZ-class carriers.
A ‘second’ career in activities associated with commercial nuclear power plants and government facilities followed. Retired since 1998 in the Charlotte, NC area, Bill likes to research and write about ships in general; and the AMERICA in particular.
He also communicates with a growing number of people – worldwide - of similar interests and adds periodically to a growing collection of AMERICA memorabilia. His collection includes many pictures obtained from original sources for Bill by his father, once managing editor of the newspaper in Newport News.
A number of fellow enthusiasts (or amerifans, as Bill likes to call them) consider him to be the unofficial historian of this once-proud and beautiful vessel. He does not disagree.
Bill Lee's Stories
Bill Lee has written some interesting, entertaining, educational and creative stories arround the AMERICA and people that have a close association with the ship. A selection of these can be viewed here in PDF format: