Hello again, gentle readers. Welcome back to the Library blog – today, I would like to tell you about a unique volume from the Library’s Rare Book collection that has piqued my interest. I refer to the double-volume schematics and design specifications for the SS United States, a work that is only available at The Mariners’ Museum Library. The first volume of the plan is split into four smaller volumes, because the original work was so incredibly thick that using it was very unwieldy.
All four sub-sections of the first volume deal with the plans, schematics, projected costs, and potential profits of the SS United States. The vessel, often referred to by the number 12201, is compared heavily to the 1930s Cunarder RMS Queen Elizabeth in design, operating costs and potential speed. There is a lot of focus in the plans on the comparative speeds of the ships. In fact, it is often repeated that one of the primary goals in building the SS United States is so that she will claim the record for Fastest Atlantic Crossing several times in a row. How would she do that, you may ask? Well, the plan was to slightly underpower the United States in order to beat the Queen Elizabeth’s speed by a small amount. That way, if the British ever reclaimed the record, the United States could then repeatedly take it back and earn a healthy dose of prestige for her parent company, the United States Lines.