January 1998: Recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (www.nthp.org) as one of the 30 final nominees for the 11 Most Endangered Places list.
February 1998: Recognized by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission as eligible for listing on the National Register for Historic Places (this is tantamount to placement on the Register. The Big U was scheduled to be placed on the National Register twice this year, but in both cases the current owner has deferred this listing). In addition to being recognized by the commission a special exception had to be made in the case of the Big U because she is not 50 years old (the minimum requirement for eligibility status). Because of this foundation's efforts, the 50 year requirement was waved and she was given her first official recognition as a National Treasure.
March 1998: The SS United States Foundation was officially chartered as a nonprofit corporation in the State of Virginia. The first board meeting was held on B Deck of the SS United States and Laura Jadwin Bachko was elected President (besides Francis Gibbs, Laura's father, Nicholas Bachko, was the most closely associated person to the design and engineering accomplishments of the SS United States).
May 1998: The White House Millenium Council began considering the SS United States for inclusion in its program.
June 1998: The second board meeting of the foundation was held in Washington DC. Filmmaker George Brown III gave the board members a sneak preview of his soon to be aired documentary on the Big U. The foundation's efforts at having the Big U recognized as a National Treasures received national publicity with articles and letters appearing in Soundings, Nautical World, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Newport News Daily Press and many more publications including business and trade publications with international readerships.
A merger between the SS United States Preservation Society was first discussed. William DiBenedetto of the preservation society joined the board of the foundation (William is responsible for having Congress introduce a bill to save the Big U back in 1992). The Chairman of the SS United States Foundation was appointed to the Board of the preservation society. At the insistence of Edward Cantor's office that no harm will come to the Big U, the ship was not placed on the National Trust's 11 Most Endangered List. However, this does not effect the ship's status as an endangered National Treasure.
July 1998: The final paper work was submitted by William DiBenedetto to secure the listing of the Big U on the National Register. Cynthia Gayton was appointed by the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts as Legal Council for the foundation.
August 1998: The Chairman was informed that the Virginia Delegation is watching the efforts of the foundation to save the ship.
September 1998: Placement of the Big U on the National Register was deferred by Edward Cantor's office. The National Maritime Initiative denies funding to the foundation because of it of 501c3 status. However, the foundation was invited to apply again next year. Senator Conrad of North Dakota wrote a letter to the National Park Service to recommend the SS United States be declared a National Landmark. Soundings, the Nation's Boating Newspaper runs a story about the efforts of the foundation to save the ship. The article entitled The Big U Forgotten but Still Floating generated more letters of commentary than any other article in the paper's history.
October 1998: Mike Alexander's web site, the most comprehensive web site on the Big U, celebrated its first year with nearly a million hits. Mike Alexander joined the Advisory Board of the foundation serving with such distinguished maritime historians as Frank Braynard and Peter Kengo. A letter writing campaign by school children is launched.
November 1998: Mike Alexander and the Chairman of the foundation tour the SS United State with members of the press including Jennifer Brown of the Associated Press and Iver Peterson of the New York Times (see AP for November 26, 1998 World's Fastest Ship on the Auction Block, Jennifer Brown). Jennifer Brown's article quotes both Mike Alexander and the chairmen of both the SS United States Foundation and The SS United States Preservation Society. In addition to this the article mentions that President Clinton was a passenger on the Big U back in 1968--this is the first international media to broadcast this information regarding Mr. Clinton's voyage. Jennifer Brown's article begins appearing in newspapers across the country and throughout the world.
December 1998: The largest radio station in Africa, Johannesburg Radio interviews the Chairman of the foundation during their morning show--the interview is heard by millions in South Africa. Soundings, the Nation's boating Newspaper dedicates an entire page to letters just about the Big U. Among the letters is one from the Chairman of the foundation mentioning the secrets of the Big U told to Laura Bachko by her father. Two secrets she would never find the answers to because her father passed on before having the chance to tell her. This near entire page of letters was because of Soundings' September issue, which had run the article entitled: Big U Forgotten but still Floating. The White House Millennium Council was presented with a commemorative item for President Clinton. Legal Council Cynthia Gayton, was appointed to the board of directors which includes the Honorable Bruce Lehman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks (Bruce was among the Washington Journal's 100 Most Influential Persons list) and Laura Jadwin Bachko, the President of Nicholas Bachko Shipping. The Chicago Sun Times and three other of the nation's top 20 newspapers prints Jennifer Brown's article on the Big U in their December 28th issues. The other papers include, The Philadelphia Daily Press, The Detroit Free Press and the Baltimore Sun.
January 1999: WKQI in Detroit, a radio station with the sixth largest listening audience in the nation, airs an hour long interview with the Chairman of the foundation. A&E's Biography on President Clinton includes footage of the SS United States revealing that the then-Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton had been a passenger on the ocean liner on his way to England. This excerpt was added because of the information in the series of articles which appeared in the Associated Press. Jennifer Brown's article appears in the Houston Chronicle and the Gary Indiana Post Tribune and dozens of smaller newspapers across the nation. Bob Bestler of the SunNews in North Carolina writes a series of articles about the foundation which generate a large amount of letters and emails. Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, Director of The White House Millennium Council, in a letter to the chairman of the foundation, recognizes the SS United States as a national treasure.
February 1999: The Philadelphia City Paper (300,000 readers) runs an article
by Jenn Darr entitled Float this Boat which quotes the Chairman throughout. The Philadelphia Historical Commission unanimously approves the Big U for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. KYW News Radio airs an interview with the Chairman. The Arnold Advertisement Agency (one of the ten largest advertisement films in the nation) launches the initial phase of the Save the United States a Symbol of the Great Generation campaign. For the second year the National Trust for Historic Preservation includes the Big U in the 30 final nominees for the 11 Most Endangered Places list.
March 1999: The chairman of the foundation receives a letter from the President of the United States thanking him for his efforts in saving the SS United States. The Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission unanimously nominates the SS United States to the National Register of Historic Place. The commission also unanimously voted that the vessel had significant national impact--he only exception permitted to allow a site that is less than 50 years in age to be placed on the Register. Reuters runs a story about the foundation's efforts to save the Big U which appears in newspapers around the world.The Philadelphia Daily News also picks up the nomination story. The BBC World News Service picks up the nomination story and broadcasts it to hundreds of nations.
April 1999: The New York Times runs a story about the foundation's efforts to save the Big U which appears in the National Section of the April 4th Sunday paper. The story is picked up by other papers around the nation including the Denver Post, Pittsburgh Gazette and the Dallas Morning News. ABC News airs a national two minute broadcast filmed on board the Big U with the foundation chairman and president being interviewed by reporter Curt Epstein. The Tampa Tribune runs a front page commentary in their Sunday edition on the chairman's efforts to save the SS US. The Chicago Tribune also runs a Sunday edition story on the Big U.
May 1999: Christopher Makos photographs the SS US. The Richmond Times Dispatch runs a story about Matt Smith's efforts to orchestrate the Save the United States campaign. Letters to the editor in support of saving the Big U appear in newspapers across the nation, from up state New York, to southern California. The SS United States Preservation Society merges with the foundation.
June 1999: The foundation year and half fight to place the SS United States on the National Register of Historic Places is successful! The Big U is added to the register three years before the 50 year age requirement. CNN airs--for two weeks--a three minute broadcast filmed on board narrated by Frank Buckley. The piece includes an interview with famed historian Frank Braynard and the chairman of the foundation. The Associated Press picks up the Register listing and it is announced in the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and dozens of other newspapers across the nation and throughout the world.
July 1999: Light sculptor, Robert Wogan illumines the funnels, radar mast and bridge of the Big U during the 4th of July weekend. The Philadelphia City Paper picks up the story. Photographer Phil Buehler posts on the internet his virtual views of the bridge and forward engine room.
August 1999: The Save the United States campaign is launched with the chairman resigning his post at the National Endowment for the Arts to lead the efforts on a full time basis. Tom Cassidy, chairman of the Long Island chapter of the Steamship Historical Society of America, tours vessel with vice chairman, Dan Trachtenberg.
September 1999: The Philadelphia Inquirer, the nations 5th largest daily newspaper ran in their "second front page" section the largest article yet on the foundation's efforts to save the ship. The story includes four photos taken on board the vessel. The story is picked up by local TV stations and Vice Chairman Dan Trachtenberg is interviewed by Philadelphia's CBS Morning News (the 5th largest market in the nation) for seven minutes both on and off the ship. The piece is broadcast throughout the day and into the weekend. The BBC World News Service out of London interviews the chairman for their American Interests Program. It is broadcast around the world. WWBT Talk Radio in Philadelphia also interviews the chairman for their morning show. Chapters open in New York City, Philadelphia, Arizona, Chicago, England and Baltimore. The foundation appoints Paul Robinson as Internet Director. Mr. Robinson successfully redesigns the foundation's Web site with updates on a continuing basis.
October 1999: The leaders of the foundation meet with public relations managers of the New Port News Ship Building Company, to solicit the companies involvement. Reporter Dennis O'Brien of the Daily Press interviews the foundation leadership along with Commodore Alexanderson. O'Brien's article is picked up on the newspaper's Web site as their lead story and runs in their Saturday, October 2 edition. The O'Brien story is then picked up by the Associated Press and runs in the Sunday editions of both the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer and dozens of other smaller newspapers across the nation.