After the collapse of American Classic Voyages, the Independence sailed to the Alameda Naval Air Station. On March 5, 2002, her mast hit the Carquinez Bridge while being towed by four tugs. The Independence was on her way to Suisan Bay, but was taken back to San Francisco for repairs. The Independence was subsequently moored in April 2002 with the Suisun Reserve Fleet in Suisan Bay, California near the USS Iowa. In February 2003, the Independence was sold at auction for $4 million to Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL).
NCL planned to add the Independence to its U.S.-flagged fleet, and hoped to have the ship carrying passengers by 2004. However, the ship continued to degrade and was renamed the Oceanic in 2006 without ever sailing for NCL. In its July 2007 interim report to shareholders, Star Cruises Limited (the parent company of NCL) disclosed it had sold the Oceanic, but did not name the buyer.
The Independence was originally launched during the heyday of ocean travel in 1950, but was treated to more than $78 million in refurbishments from 1994 to 2001. The ship is one of the few major cruise ships built in the United States, having been constructed at the Bethlehem Steel Company in Quincy, Massachusetts for American Export Lines of New York. It was intended for use as a trans-Atlantic passenger liner--yet, it adhered to post-World War II U.S. Navy specifications to permit rapid conversion into a troop ship, with a capacity for 5,000 men and their equipment. The vessel, as originally designed, was made entirely of non-combustible or fire-resistant materials and featured extra hull plating--and two engine rooms so that if one were damaged, the other could keep the ship moving at a relatively high speed.
The Independence made her last trip across the ocean in February 2008 when she was towed out to sea from San Francisco. She is currently laid up in the Middle East, and her fate is uncertain, as it has been for the past several years.