On the Water

Champagne Bucket, SS United States

This champagne bucket was made for use aboard the ocean liner SS United States, the largest and fastest transatlantic passenger liner ever built in the United States. Launched in 1952, the “Big U,” as the ship was affectionately called, was 990 feet long, about the length of five city blocks. On its maiden voyage, the ship broke the speed records for crossings in both directions and captured the Blue Riband trophy, an award for the ship making the fastest round trip passage on the North Atlantic. The time set by the United States on the westbound leg from New York to England was 3 days, 12 hours, and 12 minutes, with an average speed of 34.51 knots, a record that remains unbroken.

Passengers traveled in one of three classes aboard the ship-- first, cabin, or tourist. Each class had its own dining room, lounge, smoking room, and theater. Storage of food and supplies was located in a central area on D Deck, where separate compartments were designated for dry stores, bulk stores, frozen food, and wines and spirits. A special cooler for champagne was located there as well.

Although the ship was designed by William Francis Gibbs to be converted to a troop transport in time of war, the United States is remembered by thousands of travelers for the voyages that were enjoyed by celebrities and ordinary families alike. This champagne bucket, emblazoned with the United States Lines’ motifs of an eagle and stars, represents the luxury that passengers experienced aboard the ship.

ID Number:
metal, silver
8 1/2 x 10 1/2 in.; 21.59 x 26.67 cm
Transfer from US Department of Commerce, Maritime Administration (through R. J. Blackwell)