Behind all these innovations is the genius and drive of a man generally considered the country's No. 1 naval architect. He is William Francis Gibbs of the New York firm of Gibbs & Cox. Designer of the America, the country's largest passenger ship now in service, and other major merchant craft as well as many types of naval vessels, he has for many years advocated such a supership as the United States—in the top class for speed, completely fireproofed, air-conditioned, luxurious. It took a lot of persuading, over the years. But his dream began to turn to reality on April 7, 1948, when the Government's Maritime Commission and the United States Lines agreed on a financing plan and the Newport News yard was given the word to go ahead with the construction. The original contract price was a little under $70,000,000; modifications at the behest of the Government have raised that figure considerably.