"If we lose it, we'll never get it back."
For now, the clock is ticking.
Keeping the ship afloat costs nearly $80,000 a month for basic maintenance, insurance and security.
The SS United States Conservancy launched a website where visitors can sponsor a piece of the ship for $1 per square foot.
Gibbs says they have about two months before they'll have to sell the ship for scrap -- something she won't even allow herself to think about.
"Its name is the SS United States, and she's been here (in Philadelphia) for 17 years because she's not done yet," Gibbs said. "We have to save her."
As Gibbs and I found our way off the ship, my shoes crackled against the crumbling, faded green surface of the outside deck -- like walking across an abandoned tennis court.
We waved goodbye, and I wandered across the dock and turned around. Tilting my head back as far as I could, I stared up at her mighty bow.
I couldn't help but notice the ship's towering sides were stained with streaks of rust -- the tears of a once proud iron lady.