USS Olympia to be Sunk as Artificial Reef?

Extremely disturbing news.   The scandal-plagued museum appears to want to get rid of the historic ship Olympia any way that it can.

Historic warship’s future may be sunk

The old warship has been part of Philadelphia’s waterfront for 50 years and left lasting impressions on thousands of visitors who heard gripping stories of its role in the Spanish-American War.

Now the Olympia – the last surviving vessel from that 1898 conflict – could face an ignoble end as an artificial reef off Cape May if a new benefactor cannot be found.

The Independence Seaport Museum and the Navy have already checked with officials of New Jersey’s Artificial Reef Program on the possibility of sinking the ship, once a source of national pride.

“Another option would be scrapping Olympia,” said James McLane, interim president of the museum, which owns the ship and is adjacent to it at Penn’s Landing. “But the Navy has told us that ‘reefing’ is better because it would allow divers to go down on it and would preserve Olympia.”

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50 Responses to USS Olympia to be Sunk as Artificial Reef?

  1. NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  3. Ugh…this is an all too familiar story! Best of luck to the Friends of the Cruiser Olympia.

  4. Charley says:

    This is a disgrace!

  5. Capt. Ed Weglein says:

    C’mon folks ! It’s time to step up and help save this ship, a piece of American history that should be preserved for our posterity. Make a donation today.

  6. Glenn says:

    Are you kidding me? That’s the best the Navy can do! Reefing is better than scrapping? Who the hell is running this country?

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  8. Bobby says:

    “preserved” by sinking? Is the Navy serious, or was that said tongue in cheek.

  9. Rick says:

    As opposed to scrapping, sinking is might be considered as a form of “preservation.” It speaks volumes of the ineptitude of the museum if sinking and scrapping are the only two alternatives being considered.

  10. Mark Clark says:

    I am a professional Historic Preservationist. I make my living restoring and saving the un-restorable and un-savable. I am appalled that our government (Navy, whoever) would consider scrapping or “reefing” what is essentially the last of its kind. May as well take a wrecking ball to the White House because it doesn’t have vinyl windows. This is the kind of thing that needs to be in the news and brought to the attention of people with money.

  11. Tom Lepone says:

    Many years ago, I toured the Olympia with the Cub Scouts.
    She is a great and noble ship.
    Teddy Roosevelt, were he alive, would be furious.
    If this story is for real, something must be done to stop it.
    To let this great old ship die, would be a national disgrace.

  12. Donald E. Hughes says:

    I’m from Oregon, we once had a ship, like the Olympia, from the same time. She was, USS Oregon, school kid’s in the 1920’s help the people of Oregon buy the great ship as a museum ship, that’s what she was until ww2 started and was taken by the government and made in to an ammo barge, She made it,but broke loss from her moorings in a storm, she floated around for sometime, she was found,kept in mothball after the war, in the 50’s she was sold for scrap to the Japanese.All we have is the mast, don’t let this piece of history go, keep her please,

  13. Thad says:

    We’ve been working on an Artificial reef project in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica. We’re the first of our kind to get approved here. If you’re interested, come and take a look. We just put our website up a few weeks ago.

    Cool site you’ve got going here, and good info. Feel free to link to us!


    Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

  14. Joe Huddy says:

    Hey city of Olympia Wa. wake up! This piece of US
    history could be had. It would be a damm shame to see Admiral Dewey’s flagship become a fish reef instead of a museum ship.

  15. JC-the supermanager says:

    I agree with Glenn.. so the best is scrapping the country then reefing the NAVY.

    Why we’re hiring these kind of hell’s thinking people to burn our tax dollars!

    “Are you kidding me? That’s the best the Navy can do! Reefing is better than scrapping? Who the hell is running this country?” by Glenn

  16. gschuly says:

    with the new jersey across the river and the ss united states down river this could be one of the greatest maritime tour ever all three ships plus the two tall ships come on there is way to much of a positive idea here to throw away . getting rid of this grand ole ship will be one of the greatest mistakes philly and nj tourism has ever made. there is pleanty of money to be generated for the preservation of all thease five ships this is americas history

  17. Glenn says:

    A billion dollars spent on “Stimulus” and no one thought to send $20 mil to preserve a national treasure. Who in the heck is running this country?

  18. Thad says:

    Here’s an instructable from our artificial reef project in PLaya Hermosa, Costa Rica. I just put it up.

    We’re using concrete block and so far the fish and aquatic life love them. We’re adopting them out as “Fish Condos”. Its the first project of it’s kind to have Costa Rica government approval.

  19. gary dollar says:

    Don’t expect any help from the “best government money can buy”…there is a LOOOOONG history of neglect and destruction by the idiots who give OUR tax money to those who robbed us to begin with, but neglect anything that doesn’t enrich themselves and their buddies. Google: USS Hartford, “deconstructed” 1957 (Farragut’s flagship at Mobile Bay), USS Wolverine (ex USS Michigan, 1st steel warship), USS Lancaster, the aforementioned USS Oregon, USS Essex, last of Donald MacKay’s ships…ALL destroyed after 1930, all while preservationists tried to save them…the result…anybody seen them???? Say “Goodby” to the “Olympia”, see it while you can…soon it will be a rusted underwater hulk like the other “survivors” of the Spanish American War…(see USS Massachusetts, among others)

  20. Mark says:

    This is an absolute disgrace. I’ve taken numerous tours on this ship and love her for her history and the service she’s given to our great nation. The Navy needs to step up and preserve this national treasure NOW

  21. Jim Burgess says:

    Olympia is a national treasure and any plans to scrap or reef it are disgracefull. The Navy has priorities and historic preservation is obviously not one of them so it would be worthless to look in that direction for salvation. The museum in Philadelphia has been irresponsible in allowing the ship to deteriorate to its present condition and it’s clear they have no interest in saving it. No sense in wasting donations on them. I would recommend everyone contact their Congressman and Senators and urge them to support legislation for the acquisition of the ship by the National Park Service. After drydocking the ship could be moved to the Charlestown (Boston) Navy Yard or the San Francisco Maritime Museum (Olympia was built in San Francisco). Rehabilitation will be costly and the NPS will need extra funding from Congress. In the 1920s(?) children from all over the country donated nickels and dimes to save the U.S.S. Constitution from a similar fate. A similar grass-roots fund raising effort will likely be needed here too. Perhaps the National Trust for Historic Preservation can help with this. Most importantly we need to get the news media on this story to make the masses aware of this potential travesty.

  22. Glenn says:

    When the Olympia story broke, I fired off a letter to Sen John McCain. I figured, navy hero, titular head of the Republican Party, maybe he would be the type of guy who would see what a tragedy the loss of the Olympia would be.

    I got a reply today. It went something like this. “Thanks for the letter…I’m not your Senator…Good luck in your future endeavors…”

    Funny, less than two years ago not a day went by without a piece of mail showing up in my box from Sen McCain. It didn’t seem to matter that he wasn’t my senator back then. Now he’s not interested in hearing from me. What possibly could have changed?

    As I said in my first post. Who in the heck is running this country?

  23. Shellback says:

    Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a poem about the USS CONSTITUTION which saved her. It bears repeating:

    By Oliver Wendell Holmes
    September 16, 1830

    Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
    Long has it waved on high,
    And many an eye has danced to see
    That banner in the sky;
    Beneath it rung the battle shout,
    And burst the cannon’s roar;
    The meteor of the ocean air
    Shall sweep the clouds no more.

    Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,
    Where knelt the vanquished foe,
    When winds were hurrying o’er the flood,
    And waves were white below,
    No more shall feel the victor’s tread,
    Or know the conquered knee;
    The harpies of the shore shall pluck
    The eagle of the sea!

    Oh, better that her shattered bulk
    Should sink beneath the wave;
    Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
    And there should be her grave;
    Nail to the mast her holy flag,
    Set every threadbare sail,
    And give her to the god of storms,
    The lightning and the gale!

  24. Jim says:

    This would be a national disgrace, but look at other important historical sistes and how they are being such as the Washinton Crossing site in Bucks county. What parts of our heritage are we passing on to our children and grandchldren if we destroy our historic symbols. When I was growing up, every schoolboy could recite “You may fire when you are ready Mr. Gridley!’ It was thrill for me to stand on the bridge in the spot where this famous command was given. Be creative. Save this ship.

  25. John B. McGarvey says:

    I’m from Philly and can testify that it is a corrupt, lazy, has been town. Hopefully some other city will save this irreplacable piece of history

  26. paul wright says:

    This ship must be saved tear down the statue of liberty we will use that as replacment parts on the olympia save the olympia sink our congressmen and senators!!!!!!!!!

  27. Joey says:

    Well…if she has to go…she has to go.

    Is the Navy going to pay for the removal.

    Maybe that twenty million is best housing the homeless in Philly.

  28. shan gentry says:

    I am so sorry to hear this..Hope it doesn’t happen!!..I inherited a dining room suite that is suppose to have been on the Olympia and the surrender treaty was signed on it!! Hoping to authenticate!!!

  29. Michael USS Illinois says:

    Let Her go. Let her join her sister ships. Think of it as Obama Care for Ships.

  30. Michael Blanco says:

    I’m a Philadelphia native 20 years now in South Florida. Been to Olympia several times from cub scouts up to five years ago. I wish I knew what to say. Sally Starr, the Good Ship Lolypop, Gene London, The Liberty Bell where it belongs inside the State House, my late Grandmother’s beautiful house in Frankford,Pat McGinnis’s Tavern—all gone to history. You can’t tell me there is no money out there. Face it folks, no one cares. I must try to make one more visit….

  31. Darren says:

    Write your representatives and Senators to preserve this ship.
    It is not a reef yet. The US Navy could recommission the ship. It is time to make preservation of our maritime history a priority. Just because ships wont fit in the Smithsonian doesn’t mean they should not be preserved and preserved well. There are so many beautiful old ships falling apart due to neglect and lack of money.
    Donate if you can and make some noise with our government. The US must begin to preserve its historic sights and ships before they are lost forever.

  32. carl schneide says:

    The US Government run National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, the USAF Museum and the US Naval Aviation Museum have spent millions over the years preserving NAZI, Imperial Japanese, and Soviet aircraft and artifacts. They are preserved as NATIONAL TREASURES and yet the government will not step in a save a ship so important in our Nation’s history. It is ironic that even Russia, as poor as it is has saved the Aurora, a symbol of communism! For shame!

  33. What is the ability of the Olympia to be moved safely and what is the condition of her hull?

  34. alex fraser says:

    I made this video of that ship during the summer. I didn’t get to tour the engine room as it is only open once a month.
    The battle ship NJ is right across the river and might have stolen some of the visitors from the Olympia. They should be together. The ship was built in San Fransisco. Would that be an interesting tow?

  35. Greg Cain says:

    Okay, seeing as I have no rich friends who could fund this the only thing that I can suggest is that everyone write their congressman with something to the effect that I did to mine here in Texas:

    Dear Mr. Sessions,

    It has been brought to my attention that a potential terrible event will occur very soon on the Delaware River at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia unless a higher power intervention may just prevent it from happening. That event sir is the seemingly unavoidable loss of the oldest floating iron warship in the world and Spanish-American War veteran, USS Olympia. I am well aware of our current national economic environment however to allow this piece of American history to be lost simply because of insufficient funding would be nothing short of a disgrace to our current and future generations. If our fine government can see to appropriate billions in dollars in deficit spending funds to bail out broken financial institutions then how is it possible that a mere 10-20 million can not be located to save this priceless piece of early industrial age/US world power history?

    I am a loyal GOP supporter and have been for all of my voting life. I can see that the “left” would not be interested in such a project but with the newly elected majority in the House I beg of you to bring this issue up with your colleagues to prevent this tragic end to an irreplaceable piece of our past. The Olympia, George Dewy and Teddy Roosevelt thank you.

    I don’t have a clue if this will matter but at least I have started to get the “big guns” invloved in this issue. Is it simply a matter that the “right people” who have funds don’t even know about this? That’s what sucks about our media!

  36. AL WILSON says:

    In the early 1960s while in the Navy,several other lads and myself were put aboard the USS Olympia as it was to be moved to another location.
    While aboard Olympia several of us walked through the passageways and admired the items displayed behind glass.
    During the day I went to the forward gun mount removed my shirt sat down on the gun mount and fell asleep. Several hours later I awoke with a sunburn the likes I had not seen before or after.
    The ship was not moved that day and we were removed from it later that evening.
    I would not have ever expected that the fine ship would ever be sank due to a shortage of money
    when it represented the finest country on earth.
    If it is sunk it will be a darn shame,it was and is beautiful.
    Al Wilson

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  38. Ralph says:

    To spend twenty million to a tribute of in insturment of war, no matter how well intentioned is mis-guided.

    Feed the poor. House the homless.

    And before you get mad…I’m a marine…and you?


  39. James J Ferris says:

    Wish I had the money myself. This is a beautiful ship, an important piece of American history and it simply must be preserved. Get it the hell out of the water, and display it dry docked. If the USS Constitution, and England’s HMS Victory were not preserved, so much of this world’s nautical history would be lost forever.

  40. AL Ursich says:

    WOW…. I Re Enlisted on the ship in 1982 when my Ship the USS COONTZ DDG 40 was Cold Iron in the Philly Shipyard Dry dock. I was a FTG2….

    Sad News… FCC(SW) Retired Navy

  41. Chuck says:

    Totally unbelieveable!!! Obama and his Demogang could really get the support of Naval Veterans on this one if they would fork over some of that Bailout and Stimulous money from some undeserving Bank or Corporation and use it to move USS OLYMPIA to a place where she can be preserved permanently as a Museum as the Japanese have done with HIJMS MIKASA (1905 Flagship of Adm. Togo) by embedding her hull up to the waterline in a Concrete case that visitors can walk all the way around (as if they were walking on water) and spruce her up like USS INTREPID in NY Harbor!!!

  42. Rick says:

    Blaming Obama for the corruption and incompetence of the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia is quite a stretch.

  43. KJ McElrath says:

    Why the hell don’t we hit up some of those g*dd**ned Wall Street hedge fund managers and commodities traders and lousy korporations that have benefited so handsomely from the American system and profited so hugely from gutting the U.S. economy for their own benefit?

    On the other hand, these right-wing fascists are so busy rewriting American history, why shouldn’t they want to discard yet another irreplaceable piece of it?

  44. Rich says:

    Some facts:
    1. The NAVY does not own the Olympia, and the Federal government will not spend any money to save the Olympia. (just a fact of life) Congress cannot and will not spend money on the Olympia!
    2. The Independence Seaport Museum currently owns the ship, and no longer wants it and cannot afford to take care of it. They want to turn it over to new owners that would actually be selected by NAVSEA (div of the Navy). OR, (they are the ones who said) they would sink the ship or scrap it. Note: the ISM has had corruption charges leveled at board members and executives (funds misspent).
    3. There are groups, like the Friends of the Cruiser Olympia ( who are raising private funds to take over the Olympia, repair her, and create a permanent museum for the ship. Go to the Friends web site for info and to donate funds.

    The Olympia can be saved – it will be saved!!

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  46. Hoodoo says:

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation has recently (May 2011) opened a donation repository that will be used solely for needed temp and perm repairs to the Olympia now. The Olympia may not be able to wait for this or that organization to raise enough money locally for their particular efforts. However, this fund is a national fund and will apply the funds to the Olympia without regard to where it goes (assuming any one of the current suitors can swing enough resources for their local infra structure efforts).
    Any money paid by the fund for repairs to the Olympia will be magnified as each organization will benefit by both the saving of the Olympia and the time that will be bought. Please be a patriot and donate to this site, but also just as importantly pass this site on to anyone that might also donate or know someone.
    Al Sumrall

  47. gregg vaughan says:

    every one is right ,it is a shame . give a big downer a huge tax break.

  48. richard says:

    the state of texas took over the control of the battleship TEXAS turned it into a show piece funded by private individual with texas blessing they save the ship, along with the USS Lexington in corpus cristi bay i think it was a good idea, if we can do it so can others, the TEXAS is the last of her kind i enjoy going there.

  49. Boggs Bonney says:

    MeThinks it’s more appro. to pull down THE STATUE OF LIBERTY and put up a $ SIGN!! Or better yet howabout the USN BURNING U.S.F. CONSTITUTION for the COPPER and using the money for MORE CRACK(PIPE)-POT IDEAS!!!

  50. John Parlapiano says:

    And the “ugglies” raise their head again. Add to the list of “lost” ships USS Enterprise (CV-6) where “Boo-hoo, we just can’t find the funds.” Well, look harder and better !!!!!!! I helped and am helping to preserve a local classic, A J Meerwald, which is now sailing as NJ’s “tall ship,” and trying to preserve a vessel launched in 1849. Cashier is the oldest commercial vessel in the USA, and which may have served as a link in the underground railroad. Yes, dollars are hard to come by, and a little from many donors mounts fast. It’s time to research groups where most donated funds apply to the mission.