SS United States 2010 Refit

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SS United States 2010.png

A refit of the sole P6 S4 DS1 class ship occured in the mid 2000s

Updated boilers and reconditioned turbines would allow for a power output of 300k shp (the ship’s original power plant was limited to 260k shp). Three or four of her boilers have been replaced with prototype Fuel-Cell boilers. These boilers are similar in structure to a typical firetube unit, but with the insides of the firetubes replaced with a linear stack of solid oxide fuel cells. The working temperature of these fuel cells can reach 1100°C, and while the electricity is used to power the shipboard electrical systems (relegating the diesel generator sets for use in emergencies or when shore power is not available) the waste heat will be used to drive the screws. When this is matched with a new bow, featuring an underwater bulb, the sustained speed of the ship is increased to 36-37 knots. This new bow replaces the existing structure ahead of the forward collision bulkhead and essentially adds a second collision bulkhead forward, allowing the existing crew quarters near the bow to still be used, even with improvements to safety regulations that have occurred over the prior 60 years.

The additional speed provided by the more powerful engines and new bow allow the ship to make her scheduled transit run from San Francisco Bay to Honolulu Harbor in about 60 hours. The quickness of the transit, combined with rapid turn-around times at each end provided for weekly service to the islands. Even with the higher speed, the improved efficiency of the new boilers would result in a ship that could make the entire round trip on a single load of fuel, while offloading 5,500 short tons in Honolulu, further reducing the subsidy needed to operate the ship.

This service provided is not limited to conventional passenger travel and the forward and aft holds of the ship have been refurbished with an automated car lift similar to those found in Japanese car parks. The system allows for a 42 second maximum cycle time providing for rapid loading and unloading of the 483 standard automobiles, 183 motorcycles, 200 bicycles, and 50 kayaks that can be embarked. In the event that the ship is called into military service the lifts, each capable of moving 28 short tons, can be used to move Stryker combat vehicles to and from the cargo holds. This capacity is limited however by the relatively high location of the RO-RO doors on the ship, and a design that was not intended for vertical haul-away. If the ship were to be called into military or disaster relief service, the roofs of the cargo areas can be used as helicopter landing areas, providing a total of four spots.

While the most notable feature on the pre-refit ship were the massive funnels, here their profile is reduced by the raised f’o’csle, the additional decks added to the main super structure, and the massive new block added aft. It is these superstructure additions that add 104 balcony cabins and 29 non-balcony cabins, increasing her passenger capacity from 1928 to 2347 people. To accommodate this increase in passengers (and corresponding increase in crew), a quartet of new lifeboat stations and a quartet of tenders are added aft. While they block much of the view from the aft cabins, it is these additional lifesaving craft and the inclusion of many rafts under davits that allow for the total evacuation of the ship from one side (very useful in the event that the ship takes on a significant list such as what happened to Costa Concordia). While almost the entire crew would have to evacuate via raft, the US manning requirements as laid out in the Passenger Vessel Services Act means that a level of competency not otherwise guaranteed on passenger ships can be assured here.

While the safety of her passengers is of paramount importance, not to be ignored are her accommodations. Passengers embark in one of two classes

  • Travel Class, with amenities like the cabins on the Alaska Marine Highway System


  • Cruise Class, with modern cruise liner amenities.

Further changes include the removal of the two pools deep in the ship and their replacement with two pools on the upper decks that can be protected with sliding glass roofs. There would be 6 restaurants:

  • Travel Class Standard, offering food sous-vide and open 24hrs; Cruise Class Standard, offering food sous-vide but with a French professional chef specializing in high-end sous-vide dishes;
  • The First Class Dining Hall, available for an upcharge to regular Cruise passengers, free for Cruise class suite passengers.
  • An Asian Fusion bistro and Hawaiian Cafe (Hawaiian cuisine), both available to both classes at upcharge, suite passengers free,


  • Travel Class Fine Dining Bistro as an American food upscale alternative for them (at upcharge).

Two lounges, one for each class, with drinks also served in the entertainment forums. Coffee cafes separate for both classes and a sushi bar of combined class. All entertainment venues are shared, but there is a private reading room for Cruise Class. There would be two show-halls in the old theatres and a casino as the primary entertainment beyond the swimming rooms. Full provided childcare. And a rock climbing wall integrated into an old cargo trunk for the more adventurous. She would operate in international waters and pay appropriate casino taxes to the state she is registered in for gambling that occurs in international waters. There would be a 10-stall mini-store arrangement shopping complex aft inside of the balcony cabins, onboard styling salon, massage parlour, a game room just ahead of the lower of the two pools, the two entertainment venues as noted, a casino, a total of 6 restaurants and two coffee houses, two lounges, and the sushi bar; two pools, rock climbing wall, and the first class reading room and childcare facilities, for the common spaces (With some segregation based on class), though that's more to insure a cruise experience for the people paying for the trip as a cruise rather than getting A-to-B like Travel class.

In closing I would like to extend a thank you to both Jan Scholtens, and Mrs. Reilly-Collette's wife for their help with the project.