SS United States ordered to leave berth by September

Ss United States Conservancy File Image 2

(PHILADELPHIA) — The iconic ocean liner SS United States, which has been docked in Philadelphia for almost 30 years, has been evicted from Pier 82 after a rent dispute, Philly Voice reported. The conservancy for the ship must find it a new home by Sept. 12.

It is the conclusion of a years-long legal battle between the conservancy and Pier 82 landlord Penn Warehousing after the latter increased the daily dockage fee for the ship from $850 to $1,700 in 2021. The conservancy did not increase its payments, resulting in the landlord terminating the lease in March 2022.

Penn Warehousing took the matter to court, writing a complaint saying that the conservancy was indebted to the landlord for $290,700 of unpaid docking fees. The case went to a two-day bench trial in January.

Ss United States Conservancy File Image 2
SS United States Conservancy photo

U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, who presided over the case, ruled that there were no provisions in the original agreement between the conservancy and the landlord for the latter to arbitrarily increase fees – therefore, the conservancy’s refusal to pay the increased fees was not a violation of the agreement.

Brody also ruled that the agreement was terminable at will by Penn Warehousing and ordered the conservancy to remove the ship from Pier 82 within 90 days, though it does not owe any monetary damages to the landlord.

The conservancy declared a partial victory, while also stressing the urgency of the required relocation.

“The judge’s decision gives us a very limited window to find a new home for the SS United States and raise the resources necessary to move the ship and keep her safe,” said conservancy president Susan Gibbs. “We must do both to avoid the tragic fate that countless supporters from around the world have worked for over a decade to prevent.”

The SS United States has rested at Pier 82 since 1996. Serving as a luxury cruise liner from 1952 to 1969, the ship changed ownership multiple times since its decommissioning. Starting in 2003, it was under the proprietorship of Norwegian Cruise Line, which eventually abandoned plans to convert the ship into a cruise ship or floating condominiums.

A conservancy was formed to save the ocean liner from being scrapped, and it purchased the vessel from Norwegian Cruise Line in 2011.

Tensions began to arise between Penn Warehousing and the conservancy when the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority expressed concerns that the ship was physically damaging Pier 82. According to court documents, Penn Warehousing wanted “to force the issue to get the ship off the dock” by raising the dockage fee.

By Professional Mariner Staff