Timeline: The SS United States

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The SS United States, berthed at Pier 82, in June 2014.

A possible return to the sea is just the latest chapter in the story of the SS United States. The rusting ocean liner has a long history, from trans-Atlantic trips to a lengthy stay at a Philadelphia pier. As attention turns to what the SS United States' future might hold, here are some things to know about the ship's past:

Feb. 8, 1950: The ship's keel was laid at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. The laying of the keel, a structural element, is the first major step in a ship's construction. More than 3,100 workers would be involved the construction of the ship, the first major liner built in a dry dock.

July 3, 1952: The SS United States sets off on its maiden voyage from New York to Europe.

July 7, 1952: The ship completes its first trip across the Atlantic, breaking the eastbound trans-Atlantic speed record by crossing in three days, 10 hours and 42 minutes. A few days later, the ship breaks the westbound record, crossing in three days, 12 hours and 12 minutes.

1950s: The SS United States becomes known as "America's Flagship" and hosts a range of high-profile passengers, including Bob Hope, Princess Grace of Monaco, former President Harry Truman, Salvadore Dali, Marilyn Monroe and future President John F. Kennedy.

1960s: The liner begins to face struggles amid labor fights, disputes with the U.S. government over subsidies and changing economics, as more people choose to travel by air.

November 1969: The SS United States is retired from service.

1978: The U.S. Navy decides it no longer needs the vessel as a reserve ship. Its sale launches a series of ownership changes and plans to restore the ocean liner over the following decades.

July 1996: The SS United States is towed to Philadelphia. It spent a month under the Walt Whitman Bridge before moving to Pier 96 on the Delaware River. Plans to refurbish the vessel are discussed but stall.

December 1996: The ship moves to Pier 82, where it has been docked ever since.

1999: The vessel is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

2000s: More plans are announced to restore the ship and return it to cruise service. All eventually falter.

2009: Norwegian Cruise Line, which had owned the vessel since 2003, tries to sell the ship and begins accepting bids from scrappers after that effort was unsuccessful.

July 2010: Philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest donates millions to help the SS United States Conservancy buy the ship from Norwegian Cruise Line, saving it from the scrapyard. The ship continues to rust on the Delaware River as the conservancy tries to raise money to retrofit the vessel.

October 2015: The conservancy says it plans to retain a broker to explore selling the SS United States to a metal recycler, saying the ship posed a huge financial burden.

November 2015: The conservancy announces that it has raised $600,000, enough to prevent the vessel for being sold for scrap for 10 months as the preservationists work to reach a deal to sell the ship.

Feb. 4, 2016: Crystal Cruises, a luxury travel company, says that it has signed a purchase option for the vessel.

Aug. 5, 2016: Crystal Cruises and the conservancy say a feasibility study has concluded that it would be too challenging restore the ship as an ocean liner. The conservancy plans to continue stationary preservation efforts.