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Our Charities









"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead







The ambitious efforts of the following fine charities are enthusiastically supported by our firm:













The Los Angeles Maritime Institute's TopSail Youth Program.



Founded in 1992, the TopSail program uses sail trailing to provide youth with real-life challenges that nurture the development of stills and attitudes necessary for healthy and productive lives. The program's impressive fleet consists of 70' topsail schooner Swift of Ipswitch and 94' gaff-topsail schooner Bill of Rights as well as twin brigantines Irving Johnson and Exyjohnson. With only four full-time staff, the program utilizes the skills and enthusiasm of several hundred volunteers to sail, maintain and support the vessels. In a single year, TopSail will provide sailing experiences to over 5,000 youth with volunteers logging over 48,000 hours. Geoff Gill, of counsel to the firm and formerly a master under sail, has been actively involved for the past 10 years. We encourage you to learn more about contribution and volunteer opportunities with this fine organization.





S.S. United States Conservancy



At 990 feet, over 53,000-gt and capacity for 2,800 passengers and crew, the SS United States (aka the "Big U") remains today the largest ocean liner built in the United States. On her maiden voyage in July of 1952, the Big U captured the coveted Blue Ribbon award and still today holds the record for the fastest westbound transatlantic crossing. The technology of the ship was long considered classified military secret. Almost sixty years after her launch, the vessel's top speed of over 38 knots (over 20 knots astern) and service speed of 32.5 knots remain unprecendented. In her day, the Big U steamed alongside the RMS Queen Elizabeth, RMS Queen Mary and the SS France (Norway). With underwriting contribution from the United States federal government, the Big U was also designed to convert easily into a troopship with capacity for 15,000 soliders.


With the development of the jet age, the Big U was taken out of service in 1969. The vessel has never sailed under her own power since. Between 1978 and 2002, the ship passed into the hands of well-intentioned entrepreneurs. While the vessel's furnishings and asbestos fittings were completely removed, no further refurbishment efforts ever came to fruition. The vessel has been moored at pier 82 in Philadelphia since 1996, where she remains today. In 2002, the Big U was acquired by Norwegian Cruise Lines (subsidiary of Star Cruises, Genting Hong Kong) for potential engagement in a U.S. mainland-Hawaii passenger service, for which a U.S.-built hull is required under the U.S. Jones Act. While vessel integrity studies proved her still in sound structural condition, Norwegian Cruise Lines ultimately abandoned the project; in February 2009 the vessel was reported for sale. With the 2008 scrapping of the SS Norway (ex-France), the Big U and Queen Mary (and arguably Queen Mary 2) are generally considered the last of the great transatlantic ocean liners in existance today. After surviving idly since 1969, it was widely feared the Big U was doomed for scrap sale.


Through meetings, media releases, political advocacy, internet forums and video production, the S.S. United States Conservancy has helped re-lure national and international attention to this national icon and in 1999 suceeded in having the vessel added to the National Register of Historic Places. The S.S. United States Conservancy is spearheaded by Susan L. Gibbs, granddaughter of William Francis Gibbs, the famed naval architect who designed this ship of state. The Conservancy continues to work exhaustively to facilitate public discussion and engage private enterprise in promotion of a positive and dignified fate for the Big U. On 1 July 2010, the Conservancy announced at a ceremony on the Delaware River that Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest will donate up to $5.8 million to help save the vessel. The money will allow the Conservancy to buy the ship from Norwegian Cruise Line and maintain the vessel in its South Philadelphia berth for up to 20 months while redevelopment and refurbishment plans are completed. Transfer of title to the Conservancy is expected in February 2011. We encourage you to learn more about contribution and volunteer opportunities with the S.S. United States Conservancy




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