S.S. America vs. S.S. United States -A brief comparison
At first glance, the two ships up to their enormous size difference looked quite similar. The architectural analogy of the United States of America in the ship design and interior design is unmistakable. The two sampan chimneys, the structurally protruding promenade deck with floor length panoramic windows, streamlined bridge with the underlying curved decks of the superstructure, the cruiser stern, the arrangement of the masts, the arrangement of the deck, and the position of the lifeboats leave no doubt as to the origin of designs.
Also inside the vessels were found in common:
America (left) and United States off the coast of New York.
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At second glance, however, a different picture emerges. The two liners were neither identical nor had almost similar features.

In many technical details of the United States of America was clearly superior (see table below). Through the experience you had with America, you could benefit from this knowledge, the construction of the United States. The most visible example were probably the two oversized chimneys of the United States, which were designed to avoid appearing at the America soot on deck from the beginning. Also designed for maximum speed and kept in the 50s and 60s as a state secret underwater hull shape including four screw drive was not comparable to that of America. Especially the extra long and narrow tapered nose of the United States differed markedly from the rather short and easy braking of America.
Another distinctive feature of the two ships is their political significance.
The America was never designed with the intention to be the fastest liner in the world to compete for the blue ribbon and it was not designed to outperform rival ships of other nations in size or splendor. It was an economic response to the growing demand of American passengers on liners to cross the Atlantic, where they could feel of the decor and the decor was like at home, as well as an economic policy measure job security and future investment in times of crisis. Their representative function was primarily directed inward (to the United States and the political and economic context of their times. (See also Construction, Page 1).
The United States, however, was built to compete with the superlatives of the ships of other nations and to exceed them. The United States as a new post-war superpower needed a symbol of their strength. The economic idea was clearly behind prestige, reputation and interests of military power.

And exactly hierdrin was also the biggest problem of the United States: With astronomical 850 tons of fuel consumption during the day and personal-and-maintenance machines, which were actually designed for aircraft carrier, it was not economical to operate outside of massive government subsidies. So their service ended after only 17 years in 1969, as opposed to the 39 years of America, which in 1979 carried the last time paying guests. Although ended the period as a transatlantic liner of America in 1964, five years earlier than those of the United States, however, was able to adapt to the conditions better America with a new role as a cruise ship and intercontinental liner. Here, the United States, however, their superlatives were just in the way. An economic reconstruction of the ship, or even a sale to foreign shipping companies, was impossible due to its constant availability as a possible troop carrier and the confidentiality of their underwater hull, if at all, an investor would have found the opened an appropriate market outside the transatlantic service for such a large ship would.
Both first class dining rooms share a two decks high center part.
Both ballrooms share domes, glass topped tables and circular dance floors.
Even within the two ships were on closer inspection, despite some architectural and decorative similarities shown above, significant differences, although the same team of architects and interior designers the same team as when America was responsible for the United States.

The interior of the United States was very much kept minimalist than those of America and thus deals with the general trend of the 50s and the post-war era. What else seemed comfortable in America, with the United States was marked by much looser compromise functionality.
When designing the interior of the United States, the restrictions also were clearly due to their extremely highly rated second function as a troop transport. Within 48 hours she had to be convertible to military use. That meant little and easy to remove decoration, general purpose floor, as no two storey rooms, as few windows and open spaces, easily accessible technical installations. The America was likewise designed in collaboration with the Navy for possible use as a troop transport, however. Rather than equivalent dual use concept, but as a possible exception Thus, the architect William Francis Gibbs team had to fight for her with far less strategic military restrictions, as the construction of the United States.
America (right) and United States on their pier in New York.

S.S. America

S.S. United States



Year of commissioning:

Service speed:

Maximum speed:

interm. maximum speed:

Fuel consumption at cruising speed:

Range at cruising speed with full tanks:

Persons on board:

In service:




flooding stability:

Loss of the Interior:

gutting of the ship:

Total passengers transported:

Total distance traveled:
220,4 meters

28,5 meters


22,5-23 knots at 34.000 hp

24,5 knots at 38.000 hp

25,3 knosts at 42.000 hp

256 tons per day

12.000 nautical miles

1800 (1000 passengers, 800 crew), later 3000 (2200 pass., 800 crew)

August 1940 - August 1979 (39 years)


16, later 18

33.532 BRT

three compartment standard

post 1994

post 1994 at Fuerteventura by locals


5.000.000 nautical miles
301,8 meters

31 meters


30 knots at 130.000 hp

38 knots at 240.000 hp

(allegedly more than 40 knots but this would require a propulsion power of completely inefficient 350,000 hp according to the speed curve diagram of the ship. Furthermore the ships speed is limited by its hull speed.)

860 tons per day

10.000 nautical miles

3000 (2000 Passagiere, 1000 Crew)

Juni 1952 - November 1969 (17 years)



53.330 BRT

four compartment standard

1984 at auction

1992 at a shipyard in Sevastopol, Ukraine


2.800,000 nautical miles
In addition, the shipbuilding industry had generally evolved significantly since the construction of the 30 end of America. The hull of the beginning of the 50 United States is built welded, riveted while that was the America, what speed gains meant by a smoother surface of the hull of the United States. Parts of the superstructure and non-load bearing internal structures of the United States are made ??of aluminum, whereas was used in the construction of America almost exclusively steel. This difference was reflected mainly in weight and therefore also in the speed and position in the water.
The hull lines of United States and America just below the water line in a direct comparison (bow to the right). Both ships are here scaled to the same size to make more evident the difference. In proportion to her length, the United States is much slimmer than the America. Although the ship is nearly 1/3 longer than the America, it's just over 2.5 meters (~8 feet) wider. The lines in the bow area are far less concave than those of America and provide optimal waterflow at high speeds.
America and United States at Newport News.
America (below) and United States pass each other in the Hudson River.
Also was concerned that the safety techniques and concepts is an other been the early 50s, as the end of the 30s the highest possible standard achievable. But as far as the safety of Signalcharkter inovations, the America is still the ship, which nudged the standard for the subsequent decades in the Ocean Liners and defined. Above this standard was the United States but a signal character was from, whatever it was sure that was not mass Suitable for the military strongly influenced concept of the ship.

Thus, the United States is in many areas to understand as a ship with other objectives, as a advancement of the America and as a sign of a different era and despite many similarities actually a completely different ship.
America at night in Newport News in 1951. In the background you can see the unfinsihed SS United States.
-Picture: photographed by Marcus Ritger Jr.- courtesy of Bill Lee.-
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