The econonic surroundings at the time of the America's commissioning was everything but great.
The Leviathan (the former Vaterland of Hapag), flagship of the United States Lines, the time was the largest money looser of the shipping company. Already Atlantic crossings where the ship import a loss less than $ 75,000, were considered a success.
After the United States Lines had got rid of the unprofitable, aging Superliner to a scrap dealer with the promise of the government to put a new liner (to America) in order, everything was try to delay this procurement and construction, as one of Pages the shipping company saw no need for a new liner.
Only with threats of massive fines by the U.S. government began after several years of stonewalling with the construction of America. During the development costs increased for the new ship above the level of the previously calculated as price and then also the second World War II broke out and the scheduled transatlantic service of America could not be included, asked to be allowed to United States Lines withdraw the participating in the construction and a substantial proportion of the cost state Maritime Comission of the purchase and the ship not to have to accept that remained without success. Thus paid the U.S. dollar immediately Lines 2,396,629 and 7,328,140 more dollars on a mortgage. The Maritime Comission took over the rest (7,861,709 dollars) in construction costs in the total amount of 17,586,478 dollars.
This information is penetrated to the press, after which America made headlines as an unwanted vessel and as a proverbial "white elephant". An extremely inglorious start for a new liner. The more you had to strive by the shipping company now, not to aggravate the situation even further and continued from that point everything in the picture to the public via the America to vote positively again. The highlight of this publicity campaign was organized by the United States Lines journey from Newport News to New York on her maiden voyage with grandiose entrance to New York Harbor and much of invited celebrities, distributed throughout the city flag and a big party. The strategy worked and soon the negative headlines in public were forgotten.
International shipping company changed but not change the fact that America took care of the biggest hole in the balance sheets. During her short cruise episode before the USA entered the war, the ship was a total loss of about $ 1.2 million. The cruises were even at full retirement below the capacity limit of the ship because of the economy class cabin remained unused and so they brought only $ 76,000 in a section. This was offset by expenses of $ 120,000 for salaries, food, fuel, maintenance costs, port fees and other expenses per trip. Due to the massive subsidies the U.S. government for America While these losses were partially offset, however, remained under the dash a red minus.
In this context, it is also about understanding that in the United States Lines no mourning mood arose when the troop was recruited as a West Point military service to America. Not only that, the shipping company got rid of its biggest loss factor, they also received another high compensation and salary increases of 10% for executives.
After the war, America was in the possession of the State Maritime Comission and taken back by costly restorations in their Original status. The costs for the restoration of America as a luxury liner rose to new heights, at the end to over 7 million dollars and so no buyer could be found who was willing to invest. The United States Lines were also not interested in a buy-back. Only after far-reaching promises of Maritime Comission to bear part of the cost when the U.S. Lines pay off a substantial portion of the net profits to the Maritime Comission in return and after an increase in government subsidies, the United States Lines were willing to sign a charter agreement .
The following years would now be the most profitable for the America of her career as flagship of the United States Lines. In the late 40s, the shipping company bought back due to the success of the ship. For the period of the late '40s and much of the 50s America was one of the most profitable passenger ships, which the United States Lines ever operation.
This phase success continued into the late 50s. Falling passenger numbers brought the subsidized ship but especially from 1958 onwards further and further into the red. And rising salaries by strong unions (up to 75% higher than the competition ships of Cunard, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth) and regular strikes, the situation deteriorated rapidly until nothing remained but the America for sale.
With this balance, the America shares the fate of many transatlantic liners, whose stories are often strikingly similar, from a financial point of view. Almost none of the prestigious flagship of their nations permanently posted solid gains towards the end of transatlantic liner era. Most were not viable without massive subsidies.
More on the financial situation of America in the late 50s and 60s, as well as in their later careers in the respective chapters.