ss. ‘United States’

On the third of July 1952 leaves the American steamship “United States” from New York for her first transatlantic crossing to Europe. She completes the trip with an average speed of 35.59 miles per hour, faster than any other passenger before her. It is thus the proprietor of the ‘Blue Riband’, the symbol of the fastest passenger ship on the route Ambrose, New York to Bishop’s Rock, Cornwall, vv. The origin of the distinction is not clear; indeed is already maintains a list of fastest ships from around 1850 but only after 1900, there is a kind of award that is designated ‘Blue Riband’. During the first four decades, mainly English ships that appear on the list. It will change with the entry into service of the German ‘Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse’ which ship in 1897, making it the fastest crossing.
New ships like the ‘Deutschland’ and the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm II’ ensure that the title for years remain in German hands. Only with the advent of the ‘Lusitania’ and ‘Mauretania’ beats the British have to regain the title in 1907. Mutual competition and rising nationalist feelings in the major maritime nations create the ‘Blue Riband’ a sought-after, prestigious trophy. Appear regularly therefore increasingly larger and faster ships on the water: the German “Bremen”, the Italian “Rex” and the French “Normandie” and the two “Queens”. The ‘Queen Mary’ turns slightly faster than its larger sister, Queen Elizabeth, and take the trophy in 1935 for the ‘Normandie’ but not for long. The following year it is again the ‘Normandie’, which once again makes the fastest crossing to then lose the pennant again in 1938 to the ‘Queen Mary’.
The elegant interiors and the performance of the vessels speak much to the imagination of the public and the shipping companies provide the so much desired publicity. Photos of celebrities, sports stars and politicians regularly adorn the front pages of newspapers and magazines. It is remarkable, moreover, the absence of any ostentation in the record both holders. Only from the French ‘Normandie’ is a well-known photo in which they can be seen with a thirty meter long, blue, to name streamer behind the mast. Except that there is only the trophy made available in 1935 by the English member of Parliament HK Gales. The Cunard Line, the shipping company of the “Queen Mary” who makes the fastest voyage in 1936, however, refuses to take delivery and the cup is therefore not really a success.
During World War II hits the Blue Riband in the background. Almost all passenger ships of countries which are advanced in Germany at war and arranged for the transport of troops or to serve as a hospital ship. The deployment of these ships and their crews have contributed to an Allied victory. If the United States Lines decision in 1949 to build a large passenger decision, the federal government also strategic reasons to subsidize the project. The vessel will be built on the basis of ‘wartime specifications “and the US Navy oversees construction. As during the war ships were adapted to sail under war conditions they choose the opposite: they build actually a warship made for the carriage of passengers. The construction of the vessel is surrounded by an air of mystery. The construction takes place in an excavated dock so the lines of the hull and the shape of the screws remain hidden to the eye. The engine power is not made known, experts estimate approximately 200,000 horsepower. This power is provided by four steam turbines and eight boilers are arranged in different compartments which creates two separate engine rooms. The steel ship gets a weight-saving aluminum body and a virtually fireproof interior. For economic reasons, use only two-thirds of the total engine power during normal service speed. However, competition from aviation increases and the number of passengers choosing falls for a crossing by ship. The operation is increasingly at a loss and void if the federal grant in 1969 the company decided to put on the ship. When the “United States” no longer under “military secret” is, among other things also announced the machine power: 240.000 hp and a top speed achieved 41.6 miles or up to 77 kilometers per hour!
The “United States” is the painter Jan Goedhart obviously made a great impression, at least he has the ship about twenty paintings made ranging from sketches and tryouts to fully elaborated ship portraits. Unfortunately we’ll have to guess what attracted him to the ship, he has to go notes or comments about survivors. He will ship more impressive than have nice found: the sleek long lines of the hull and the layer structure to give an impression of speed and generously proportioned chimneys suggest an enormous force, a force that possessed indeed. As a member of the Dutch Association of Sea Goedhart has repeatedly invited to join a trip with a navy ship. Such trips are usually made in the North Sea, the English Channel and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. These waters also belong to the European zone of the “United States” that visited the ports of Le Havre, Southampton and Bremerhaven. It is not impossible that he has caught a glimpse of the ship during these trips. Sketches Goedhart sometimes display pencil lines indicating the outline of the ship, lines that may or may not have been painted over again. In this work he will undoubtedly have used pictures. Sometimes, however, the ship is depicted as she sails a short distance and as a spectator you can well imagine that he was indeed the ship in that position their own intuition. What is striking is that all sketches, the circumstances, sometimes it is sunny and then cloudy or breaks the air after a storm. The sea is painted in numerous variants: quiet, flat or wavy heavy. It gives the impression that Goedhart here for his own pleasure at work. He tries all sorts of hues in air and water and the different movements he sees in the water. In all these views have featured the “United States”; quietly sailing or even stately, but also ferocious by putting in a turbulent sea. For a lover of ships and the sea, these paintings a wonderful series that may Painter Goedhart and his love for ships and show the sea. ”

Here are some examples:

  • US vertrekt en passeert een rode boei aan SB

  • US uitvarend en gezien op het achterschip

  • US tijdens rustige vaart gezien op de SB-zijde

  • US studie voor een scheepsportret

  • US passerend en gezien op de BB-zijde achterlijk

  • US ontmoet een vrachtschip tijdens stormachtig weer

  • US onder brekende lucht achterlijk gezien op de SB-zijde

  • US misschien een nachtelijke vaart

  • US in snelle vaart passerend op korte afstand

  • US gezien op de SB zijde