It was the fastest, most luxurious ocean liner of its day, and whisked the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Coco Chanel, Marlon Brando and four US presidents across the Atlantic. But now the SS United States sits derelict in a Philadelphia dock as a conservation group makes an urgent appeal for funding to save it from the scrap yard by the end of the month. Moored on the Delaware River opposite an Ikea store, its paintwork is peeling, its funnels discolored by the sun. Footsteps echo in the cavernous interior, stripped long ago of the vestiges of the vessel’s golden past. On its maiden voyage on July 3, 1952 the 990-foot (301-meter) ocean liner crossed the Atlantic in a record three days, 10 hours and 40 minutes. The record still holds. A marvel in elegance and technology, it was designed to be transformed rapidly — if the Cold War escalated — into a troop

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