Mare Island closer to acquiring USS OLYMPIA (C 6/CA 15/CL 15/IX 40)
The Mare Island Historic Park Foundation receives approval of Business Plan Phase IIA application to acquire a Historic Ship from the Spanish American War, the USS OLYMPIA
Vallejo, California/Wednesday July 4, 2012
The Mare Island Historic Park Foundation’s (MIHPF) completed another major milestone leading to USS OLYMPIA completing her first passage through San Francisco’s Golden Gate in 117 years. On July 2, 2012 the MIHPF’s Phase IIA Application to acquire the USS OLYMPIA for display in Dry-Dock #1 at Mare Island in Vallejo, California was accepted by the ship owners and the MIHPF was invited to continue with acquisition process. The OLYMPIA is the oldest surviving steel hulled warship in the world and when war broke out with Spain in 1898 she and the ships she led were all that stood between our pacific coast and a powerful Spanish pacific fleet. She became famous worldwide when she led the United States fleet against the Spanish fortifications and fleet in Manila Bay in one of the greatest naval battles in history. Submission of a Phase IIA Application by the MIHPF was the second step in a four step process for acquisition of the ship. The four step process was developed by Independence Seaport Museum (ISM), the Navy and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission each of which have a legal interest in the ship.
The review panel commented that “There are a number of areas in which your submission indicates that you have a thorough understanding of the requirements of the transfer process and establishing and running a successful ship museum. First, your submission presents responses to the requirements in an organized manner. Second, MIHP is an established ship-based museum with an existing organizational structure, strong volunteer program and record of past accomplishments in acquiring and acting as a steward for ships and collections. The challenge is making the next step from a primarily volunteer based organization to a professional based organization. Third, the historic association of Mare Island Naval Station and Olympia is a strong asset in your effort and can be further emphasized in the interpretive, marketing and service programs. Finally, it appears MIHP has made strong progress in working with the land owners, Lennar Mare Island and the City of Vallejo, CA, to secure a viable facility and location for the safe and secure permanent mooring site for Olympia.”
Major concerns expressed by the review panel included the vulnerability of the OLYMPIA to loss during tow from Philadelphia to Mare Island, and the budget for acquisition and transportation strategy for OLYMPIA artifacts known as the “OLYMPIA Core Collection.”
Kenneth Zadwick, the president of the MIHPF, commented that: “We are excited that our Phase IIA application has been well received and we are confident we can satisfactorily address the concerns expressed by the review panel. Now we continue on the “make or break” part of our effort as we reach out to our fellow Americans and, in particular, those who have benefitted from our American story to raise the funds required capitalizing the acquisition. In particular we must raise $200,000 in planning funds now to complete the application process as well as the funds required to capitalize the acquisition. We trust that the fact that the OLYMPIA is not just some monument created to commemorate a great event, but that she is the actual ship from which American sailors fought at peril and through their heroic actions launched our nation into our role as a world power, will resonate with those who appreciate the importance of preserving and displaying for all to see such a unique and important part of our shared heritage.”
The display of a historic ship as a monument in Mare Island’s Dry-Dock #1 has long been a goal of the MIHPF. Acquisition of the OLYMPIA remains the focus to fulfill this goal. The OLYMPIA has a historical connection to the San Francisco Bay Area as she was built here and she operated from Mare Island prior to her dispatch to the Asiatic Station” in 1895. It will require $9M to tow her to the west coast and conduct site preparations at Mare Island in Vallejo California.
Donations to support this historic venture are being sought to bring OLYMPIA home to Mare Island. For more information see http://www.mareislandhpf.org/ships/donate.htmlor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD2sAZ4nQrI for more information regarding donations see. The MIHPF is a non-profit public benefit corporation within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. MIHPF was founded in 1995, and operates a 50,000 sq. ft Museum, and leases and maintains three major historical properties; two Mansions on Officer’s Row, and St. Peter’s Chapel with the most Tiffany windows in the West on the former naval shipyard in Vallejo, California.
OLYMPIA Project Manager, Mare Island Historic Park Foundation