SHIPPING: Queen of the Seas

In 1851, when the American paddle-wheeler Pacific set a record for the Atlantic crossing, steamboats could barely exceed the time of a fast sailing vessel. The Pacific's time: 9 days 19 hr. 25 min. She was the last U.S. speed queen—since her day, the British, the Germans, the French and the Italians have held the Atlantic records. Last week, a century after the Pacific's run, the new superliner United States raced east into the Atlantic from New York.

It seemed almost a foregone conclusion that she would exceed the mark of 3 days...

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