S.S. United States - tasks and operations RFC

Tasks and Operations


The many sponsors and contributors have made it clear that America Loves this special ship. And they want to maintain and enjoy her for the future.

The Ship is like a city. There's food, shelter, clothing, transportation, education, entertainment and government.

Food For now the food must be brought by individuals.
The ship originally had a ten thousand square foot kitchen facility and several other spaces dedicated to food service.

Shelter The ship is not currently heated but its massive hull is painted black and that absorbs heat in the winter sun. The spacious and airy decks are shielded from summer sun. The ship has accommodations for more than 3000 people. And along with shelter comes air, electric, water and sewer. (And the machines that repair those.)

Clothing There is no formal system of clothing. But task leaders will need to be identifiable with hats, shirts or pins.

Transportation The ship has many complex systems for propulsion and those need dedicated individuals who can learn and maintain them. There are also elevators on board that function when the power is turned on.

Education Learning is a major aspect of this ship. It's a historic ship. Its purpose is to be valued and enjoyed. Its complex systems, sleek design and interesting history are all things to be recorded and studied. In order to manage, coordinate and educate volunteers and other leaders, the ship needs an information system to encode its manual, 'best practices' and to assist in formulating plans for maintenance and operation.

Entertainment The ship contains two amphitheaters, a swimming pool and hundreds of thousands of square feet of open spaces. But the current joys are walking, gazing off the decks, maybe a coffee and a sandwich (currently, bring your own). And there's the joy of learning, contributing and being a part of historic preservation. The decks will eventually host site plans and other things to consider. And tours, meetings and other activities to attend or host.

Government Decision systems are notoriously difficult, especially for complex problems (like redeveloping an historic ship for appreciation by the volunteer public.) The Ship is currently owned by the S.S. United States Conservancy, which has been overburdened by having to make all the decisions BOTH for fundraising AND operations. For that reason the first order of business is to delegate an operations Quartermaster to take charge of the Ship and its Uses. The Quarter master or 'captain' will manage the organization of work groups and the opening of the ship for public enjoyment -- such as walking tours, volunteer participation and work groups. This page is the first step to building an organization that can preserve and maintain the vessel for the future and the donating public who make it all possible.

Music Channel: S.S. United States YouTube music channel

Ship Operations

The Ships operations are best divided into areas of expertise.

Power - The Generators, back-up generators, wiring, motors, boilers, pumps and yes, the 250,000 SHP steam turbine engines must be maintained - even when they are not in use.

Water The Ship has water purification which is used to fill the pool and a full suite of plumbing to oversee and maintain.

Air The Ship has both heat and air conditioning elements and multiple complex ventilation systems. These need to be clean and maintained.

Sewer The Ship holds waste water and has a large pumping system, like a giant mobile home. Those familiar with waste processing may find new and innovative ways to convert solid waste to steam. The systems are largely operational (just add water) and pumping can begin at any time.

Infrastructure The walls, hull and decor are fixed structure that needs paint, decoration and maintenance. Weather paint touch-ups, cleaning or decorating. The ship needs basic structural care.

Planning What should be done first? How much will that cost? Are there volunteers? Planning needs to knit all the information into the right choices. The ship is so complicated that virtually nobody knows all the best practices. It's older, unusual and needs different things than a busy commercial ship.

Oversight Is that the best approach? Oversight looks at plans and critiques them for alternatives and estimates the outcome. Whats worth more? A party on the 4th of July, or, a month of repairs? Nobody knows. we would have to look at the human hours of benefit, lost visits, cost and many factors. Its very complicated. But it can be done.

And Government Wouldn't you know, the government which takes 40% of the economy, has a lot of people who want to be involved with the 990 ft dingie. If it were a 14 ft sunfish wafting at the dock, they wouldn't care much. But they don't want a big ship coming and going unless it has a competent crew and tugboats at the ready. (this happens occasionally when the ship is moved or cleaned) They don't want the ship catching fire (Thankfully the ship is 100% fire proof, metal construction). Similarly they want to make sure the air is clean and the decks are firm. Right now its a steel pier that people could walk through and see. That's enjoyable. The public should enjoy the ship their grandparents bought. So its good that people come and see the many interesting systems, spaces and aesthetic designs.

Each of these areas require a team consensus and multiple individuals to lead and manage activities of the ship.

The big picture As a Historic Ship, the purpose is to be enjoyed. Each volunteer has a comfortable amount of time and effort to contribute. So involvement should always be convenient and enjoyable. There are many tasks to keep the Ship well functioning.

The S.S. United States can host volunteer activities, support festivals, open for tours and even enliven the 4th of July.

Timothy Sheridan