United States Lines was an American transatlantic shipping company that operated cargo services from 1921 to 1989, and ocean liners until 1969—most famously, the SS United States. The lines became well known in the 1920s when two valiant historic rescues were made using their ships', the SS President Roosevelt in 1926, and the SS America in 1929 by Captain George Fried.
The company was formed with three ships from the tonnage of the failed United States Mail Steamship Company. Two of the ships, the America and George Washington, were originally German vessels that had been seized during World War I and kept as reparations. Both the America and George Washington made New York–Bremen runs, while the Centennial State ran from New York to London. One of the founders was Kermit Roosevelt, son of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.
Additional ships were acquired in 1922 and renamed after various U.S. presidents. The 52,000 ton Leviathan, formerly the Vaterland and one of the largest liners in the world, was acquired in 1923.
Throughout the 1920s, the line accumulated debt, and in March 1929, the line was sold to P.W. Chapman Company, and reorganized as the "United States Lines Inc." of Delaware. The stock market crash made matters worse, and in 1931, the remaining ships were sold to "United States Lines Company" of Nevada. Later in 1931, United States Lines was acquired by the Roosevelt International Mercantile Marine Company, which had been formed earlier in the year from the merger of the Roosevelt Steamship Company and International Mercantile Marine Co..