Save the USS Olympia! News Update Number One

This is a follow up to my article Save the USS Olympia! Which was published in September 2010.

There is news concerning the Flagship of Admiral Dewey during the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898. The one a kind ship and the only surviving steel warship of her era has been moored in Philadelphia since 1957 when she was taken over by the Cruiser Olympia Association in 1957 and restored to her 1898 configuration. Since 1957 she has been a museum ship in Philadelphia and in 1996 the Cruiser Olympia Association merged with the Independence Seaport Museum due to the major costs of upkeep. Since then she has been moored at Penn’s Landing where she has been open for tours. During the Fall of 2010 the museum announced plans to close the ship due to the poor material condition of the ship which has not been in drydock or had a major overhaul since 1957 as well as the high operating costs.  However the Olympia has been kept open for tours and the museum plans on keeping her open through March 2011.

The museum and a new group dedicated to saving the ship, the Friends of the Cruiser Olympia has announced that they cannot raise the funding for the repairs needed to maintain the ship in Philadelphia.  The Independence Seaport Museum Chief Executive Officer John Gazzola said the museum cannot raise the at minimum amount of $10 million needed to dredge the marina where she is moored, dry dock the ship and repair Olympia’s hull and deck. A bid request has been issued for organizations that might want to obtain and preserve the ship. A group from Vallejo California the Navy Yard Association which is made up of former workers from Mare Island Naval Shipyard has announced their intention to bid on the ship when the auction takes place in February. In order to raise money the group plans on trying to align itself with non-profit groups since they are not.

The Christening of the USS Olympia at San Francisco’s Union Iron Works

The Olympia was built at San Francisco’s Union Iron Works in 1892 and if the group is successful this could return the ship to the place that she left for her assignment in the Far East in 1895. This is a unique ship and she needs to be preserved. Despite her status as a National Historic Landmark she has been allowed to deteriorate to the point that major repairs are necessary.  If a bidder cannot be found and the ship is unable to be restored it is possible that she could be scrapped or sunk as a reef.

As the situation develops I will provide updates on this site.


Padre Steve+



Filed under History, Military, Navy Ships, US Navy

2 responses to “Save the USS Olympia! News Update Number One

  1. John Erickson

    Padre- I assume you are aware of the website “Friends of the Cruiser Olympia”:
    It is a shame, in this era of massive political contributions and obscene bankers’ bonuses, that some group or individuals cannot come forth with the necessary money. Perhaps we need to bombard Bill Gates’ “collection of billionaires”, who claim they will give away half of their wealth, to each chip in $100K or so. It’d be a nice writeoff to cancel their weekly cigar outlays, and it would show that they are serious about doing good. Yes, I know that the cost of saving the Olympia could feed thousands or more, but what price heritage? What dollar amount can you put on your own past? This ship is as one-of-a-kind as the USS Texas. There ARE no more of this kind of ship, and this type of ship oversaw the time period when America went from a third-rate continental power to a first-rate world power. The men who served on her are long gone – this is our last touchpoint with history. If Olympia disappears, then we consign an entire era of American history to dry facts in boring textbooks. And that is a cost none of us can afford.

  2. Hello from the Friends of the Cruiser Olympia. We have been working very hard to establish many links to our legislators, local and national funding sources. We hosted a dinner and reception at the Capitol on 23 June with major businesses, other interested non profits, and our representatives. You can read more about it at our website:

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