An interesting update on the USS Olympia:
A Vallejo group wants to bring a historic, 19th century naval vessel to the San Francisco Bay area.
The Navy Yard Association — a group of former naval shipyard workers on Mare Island — plans to apply for the USS Olympia when bidding for the ship is opened in February.
The 244-foot-long ship, launched in 1892, is currently moored on the Delaware River in Philadelphia and is part of the Independence Seaport Museum.
But museum officials tell the Vallejo Times-Herald they are unable to raise the millions of dollars needed to dry dock it and repair its hull and deck. So they plan to seek a new steward for the ship.
The USS Olympia is the only surviving steel warship of its era. It served in the 1898 Spanish-American War, where it was Commodore George Dewey’s flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay.
Another article at Suite101, from Christopher Eger (a “recovering gun nut” – I like this guy already!) provides more details and a link the USS Olympia page on the Mare Island Navy Yard Association’s website. The Association mentions three potential sites for the USS Olympia, two of which are dry docks with historic significance. Their strategic plans include, of course, a review of options to move the ship from the east coast to the west.
In fairness I would point out the direction proposed by the Mare Island Navy Yard Association is at odds with the Friends of the Cruiser Olympia. While both groups have preservation of the ship in mind, the Friends wish to keep the cruiser in Philadelphia.
Personally, I would first like to see the ship preserved first and foremost. Although I have questions about how the ship might be moved to California, putting the ship back at the place it was built sounds like a good idea. And at the same time, retaining the ship at Philadelphia avoids a dangerous ocean transit and also for a contrast with the USS New Jersey across the river.
Although scheduled to close last November, the Olympia will remain open for visitors, at least on a reduced schedule, into 2011. For those who cannot visit this treasure, I posted a short “tour” last year.
- Report: Calif. group wants USS Olympia (philly.com)
- USS Olympia at Penn’s Landing gets reprieve – for now (philly.com)
- Embattled warship in Philly to stay open, for now (sfgate.com)
- Group says 5 Phila. area historic structures at risk (philly.com)