Walter Cronkite is lending his name to the effort to preserve the United States, the Cold War-era ocean liner that has languished at a South Philadelphia dock for more than a decade.

The legendary CBS newsman this week accepted the post of honorary chairman of the SS United States Conservancy, a national group committed to preserving the vessel, a spokesman for Cronkite said Wednesday.

The 990-foot ship was put up for sale in January by its current owner, Norwegian Cruise Lines, for an estimated $20 million. Enthusiasts have fretted that the iconic ocean liner would be sold for scrap.

Last week, NCL told the conservancy that the ship would not be sold to scrappers or any non-U.S. entity, said Conservancy spokesman Dan McSweeney.

"We're not out of the woods yet, though this recent statement is cause for cautious optimism," McSweeney said. "We need to continue to raise awareness and build momentum in support of the effort to save this great national treasure."

Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or at