An American Troopship

 The S.S. “United States,” by crossing the Atlantic in shorter time than any liner previously, became eligible for the Blue Riband trophy.

At both Le Havre and Southampton there were great celebrations.

 The accomplishment of this magnificently constructed ship caused pleasure and a feeling of pride to many people, both in this country and abroad. It is therefore understandable that so much interest has been displayed in the performance of the vessel and in the celebrations that followed.

 After hearing for so many years of the marvels produced for the purposes of war, it must have been refreshing news to hear of a feat of modem engineering ship construction that the design and building of the “United States”. undoubtedly represents, being produced for apparently purely civilian purposes.

 To those who revel in this artless view it would probably come as an awakening draught to know that the planners designed the liner as a troopship.

 An article in the July issue of “Readers’ Digest” gives some interesting though sinister facts about this awesome super-liner of steel and aluminium. The warship designing firm of Gibbs & Cox spent over one million dollars from 1944 to 1948 before plans were finally complete.

 Two plans for the ship were developed simultaneously, one for a troopship and one for a passenger liner. Whenever the two conflicted the troopship plan was followed. When the Navy wanted special stairways, air ducts, safety doors, control stations, the Navy got them. In one of the smoking rooms the decorators wanted to put some windows looking out to sea over the stern. The Navy objected on the grounds that it would weaken the structure. The decorators then suggested leather panels but the Navy objected on the grounds that these were not fireproof.

 With a beam of 101½ feet the “ United States” can squeeze through the Panama Canal, whereas the “Queen Mary” with a beam of 118 feet, cannot.

 Her underwater hull remains a secret. By mistake a photo once slipped into a trade magazine, but the edition was destroyed before it was distributed. She was built in a dry dock, not on conventional launching ways. When the guests arrived for the christening, they found that the water bad already been let into the dock so that the lower hull was covered. Her speed and horsepower are also secret.

 Her operation is so efficient that she could go from San Francisco to the coast of Asia, drop 14,000 troops with equipment, and return home without refuelling.

The United States Lines put up $28,000,000, the Government $42,000,000.

Although as a liner the ship will carry 2,000 passengers, the plumbing, kitchens and ventilation are built to accommodate 14,000.

 Under a socialist system of society this waste of labour on unproductive war equipment schemes will stop, and with it the mental strain that the preparations for war create.

Frank Offord

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