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"USS Olympia - Worth Saving?" Topic


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Personal logo The Editor The Editor of TMP Fezian14 Oct 2011 10:41 a.m. PST

The USS Olympia is a surviving ship from the Spanish-American War, and is in danger of being lost if sufficient funds cannot be raised to restore her.

However, some question whether the vessel is significant enough to be worth the effort. For instance, this quote is from a letter to the editor of Naval History magazine:

…But I wonder if, today, many consider it less passionately and in so doing make the Olympia's importance a harder "sell." The war, alter all, was a lopsided attair in which a bullying United States beat up on a decrepit Spain and gained itself a cheap empire in the process. And how many think il "iconic" and "glorious" that an overpowering American naval force shot up an essentially anchored foe, pausing at one point and feeding the crews, and suffering only six WIA in the battle' A tough sell, indeed, when compared with other U.S. naval actions before and since.

Is the USS Olympia worth preserving?

Major Bumsore14 Oct 2011 10:46 a.m. PST

Of course it's worth preserving!

BCantwell14 Oct 2011 10:52 a.m. PST

The Olymnpia's value lies not in her role int he Spanish American War, but rather as one of the very few surviving examples of an entire era in naval history (anywhere in the world).

Definitely worth preserving, but I can see the trouble in raising funds from among a population who's idea of ancient history is N'Sync.

Personal logo nycjadie Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Oct 2011 10:59 a.m. PST

The oldest steel warship on the waters. That might be worth preserving, but it depends on what they do with it. If it sits as a decrepit part of a stale museum, then probably not. It needs to be seen, educate, entertain and make money to be worth while. It needs to promote its context to the public. Otherwise, it serves only as a little-seen and very expensive object in a collection of many.

Wolfprophet14 Oct 2011 11:25 a.m. PST

Sounds like they should move it inland, like the German U-boat in the middle of Chicago. Lol. 'twas fun getting to go in that as a kid.

Rogues114 Oct 2011 11:28 a.m. PST

The Olympia is a beautiful ship. Her interior reflects a transition from the sail age to coal age with an incredible amount of wood working and unique items like porcelin bath-tubs and other areas like the wardroom and galley. I live in Philly, did a number of re-enlistments on her and the fundamental problem is that it is not accessable from the rest of the city (I-95 divides Penns Landing from Center City). Though I and a number of others would be upset if she were to go to another city as a tourist attraction, I would rather see that then to lose her altogether. Having been on the USS New Jersey (across the river in Camden) and the Olympia, I find the Olympia more interesting and more accessible (and I was on the New Jersey as part of RDML pinning). It is a beautiful ship from an era of transition in Naval ships, one can only hope that someone will take her over and repair her before she sinks at the pier. If you come to PA for one of the historical conventions or are in Philly I would recommend seeing the Olympia and the WWII sub Beacuna (sp?) tied up next to her. It is worth the visit.

SECURITY MINISTER CRITTER Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member14 Oct 2011 11:28 a.m. PST

Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

Personal logo dandiggler Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2011 11:29 a.m. PST

That might be worth preserving, but it depends on what they do with it. If it sits as a decrepit part of a stale museum, then probably not.

Exactly the problem she's had for decades. She deserves better. As much as I'd love to see her stay in Philly, the more important thing is not seeing her turned into a reef off of Cape May, there are plenty of other ships to fit that role.

Allen5714 Oct 2011 11:29 a.m. PST

The Olympia's service history aside it is the only surviving cruiser of it's era still in existance. The Olympia reflects an era of naval technology. If we can save old tractors, cars, airplanes, etc. we should save a ship as unique as the Olympia. Cripes, the Smithsonian is full of the other items many of which have no real historic signifigance. Go to the Boston Navy Yard. Beside the USS Constitution are several warships with no other signifigance than that they were available to display.

benglish Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2011 11:37 a.m. PST

"…But I wonder if, today, many consider it less passionately and in so doing make the Olympia's importance a harder "sell." The war, alter all, was a lopsided attair in which a bullying United States beat up on a decrepit Spain and gained itself a cheap empire in the process. And how many think il "iconic" and "glorious" that an overpowering American naval force shot up an essentially anchored foe, pausing at one point and feeding the crews, and suffering only six WIA in the battle' A tough sell, indeed, when compared with other U.S. naval actions before and since."

Hilarious. NAVAL HISTORY is giving the American public waaaay too much credit. 99% of the population has never even heard of the Spanish American War; most wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the USS Olympia and the USS Ronald Reagan.

If it were up to our fickle and ignorant population, very little of ANY US history would be preserved.

The USS Olympia is worth saving because it is a PART of history; how each generation chooses to view or interpret that history is immaterial. The Olympia should be saved so it can be left to future generations to draw their own conclusions.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2011 11:45 a.m. PST

Absolutely yes!

Personal logo elsyrsyn Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2011 11:48 a.m. PST

The Olymnpia's value lies not in her role int he Spanish American War, but rather as one of the very few surviving examples of an entire era in naval history (anywhere in the world).

What BCantwell said.

Doug

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Oct 2011 11:52 a.m. PST

It amazes me what billionaire "entrepreneurs", etc, will spend millions of dollars on for the latest bauble that strikes their fancy and it gets all over the news, but none of them care enough to send a small check to save history….
We're having the same issue with CW battlefields.

Personal logo AzSteven Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2011 11:54 a.m. PST

Amazing what passes for historical and journalistic integrity at Naval History magazine. At the time of the war, most European nations expected Spain would be a tough opponent for the United States; only after the fact was the true state of Spain's power revealed.

As for the Olympia, I definitely hope she is saved. I have contributed to the Friends of the USS Olympia fund, and I know there are several other funds out there (which is maybe a problem, diluting resources and efforts).

Lentulus14 Oct 2011 12:00 p.m. PST

And how many think il "iconic" and "glorious" that an overpowering American naval force shot up an essentially anchored foe

I missed the part where we are only supposed to remember "iconic" and "glorious" wars. As opposed, I suppose, to wars where the Admirals, at any rate, appear to have known their business.

Your history, but I would sure like to visit that ship.

Schogun Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2011 12:20 p.m. PST

It was from Olympia's bridge that Dewey delivered his famous order, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley."

Classic.

EJNashIII14 Oct 2011 1:13 p.m. PST

"I missed the part where we are only supposed to remember "iconic" and "glorious" wars. As opposed, I suppose, to wars where the Admirals, at any rate, appear to have known their business."

I was thinking about the American Civil War. Would anyone remember it if Lee and Jackson turned out to be horrible leaders and McClellan actually lived up to the American Napoleon nickname? For that matter people love the history of the great civil war naval battles, but that war was even more lopsided than the Span-Am war. Or, why remember WWII? After June 1942 the Japanese were in no better shape than the Spanish in the Span-Am war. The only difference being we didn't take the Span-Am war to the door step of Spain. Really, most wars fit the lopsided name if you think about it.

Shagnasty14 Oct 2011 1:14 p.m. PST

Of course and cancel that idiot's subscription to NH.

Major Mike14 Oct 2011 1:25 p.m. PST

<< And how many think il "iconic" and "glorious" that an overpowering American naval force shot up an essentially anchored foe, pausing at one point and feeding the crews, and suffering only six WIA in the battle' A tough sell, indeed, when compared with other U.S. naval actions before and since>>

Right, let her rot and lets spend some money to recover the Yorktown from the Midway area, at least some sailors died there.

She is just as important as the USS Constitution, sailed into an enemy harbor to take the fight to the foe. I'm surprised the Navy doesn't take a part in her upkeep. Locally we have a gun and a mount from the war that were salvaged as war trophies off of the Vascaya (sp?) and another ship.

Patrick Sexton Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2011 1:37 p.m. PST

Of course she is worth saving.

Personal logo Grand Duke Natokina Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2011 1:38 p.m. PST

Damn straight She is worth saving!

Agesilaus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member14 Oct 2011 1:41 p.m. PST

Admiral Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay, and that's not cool enough? That's an insult to anyone who's ever worn facial hair. Of course she needs to be preserved!!

Kugelfang Inactive Member14 Oct 2011 2:40 p.m. PST

I'm just finishing up a project on the Olympia for a class in public history. She is one of the most historically significant vessels in existence. When Congress authorized the US Navy to turn her over for preservation it was stipulated that preservation was to be done at no expense to the government. Now, of course Congress CAN change that. But until it sees fit to do so the money to preserve and restore the Olympia has to come from the private sector.

There's more information on the site I've put together for my project:

preserveolympia.wordpress.com

As you can tell, yes, I think she deserves to be saved!

--jeff

BlackWidowPilot Supporting Member of TMP Fezian14 Oct 2011 4:53 p.m. PST

Yes. On so many levels, absolutely. Olympia is not just Dewey's flagship, but one of the last surviving examples of an entire era of naval design and architecture, a piece of technology that should be restored, preserved, and open to the public.

At the risk of being sent off to the TMP Dawghouse, if we Yanks can spend billions on redundant nuclear weapon systems, why the Sam Hill can't we come up with the necessary funds to preserve this historically significant vessel for future generations to visit and learn from?

If you give me the choice between a redundant ICBM and the Olympia restored and preserved and on display as a National Monument open to the public, I'll take the Olympia, and you can keep the change.evil grin


Leland R. Erickson

P.S. I'll take my dawg biscuit in the brig now, Bill. Which cell is mine again?evil grin

Personal logo Landorl Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2011 6:48 p.m. PST

That original article is a shame. The men who died in that war wouldn't think that the war should be forgotten. I won't go so far as to say that it was needed, but it should not be forgotten.

The ship needs to be saved. It is a rare piece of history.

Oddball14 Oct 2011 6:57 p.m. PST

Myself and two other friends toured the USS Olympia this summer while at Historicon.

A great ship. Well preserved, with a very good tour inside. The ship is not gutted, but full of items as if it still had crew on board.

We tossed our contribution into pot to help it be saved. I hope that it is around for at least another 100 years.

Dark Knights And Bloody Dawns15 Oct 2011 2:25 a.m. PST

The USS Olympia is every it as important as the Warrior and Unicorn. Unicorn – Seppings construction, Warrior – Iron and Olympia – Steel.

Everything is profit and loss these days, what about history, passion and the admiration of engineering success?

John the Confused15 Oct 2011 4:25 a.m. PST

Yes!

Femeng2 Inactive Member15 Oct 2011 4:47 a.m. PST

Do what saves the frigates, re-commission her!

Personal logo vtsaogames Supporting Member of TMP15 Oct 2011 5:08 a.m. PST

I went aboard last year. It is beautiful.
And it deserves better than it has got.

irishserb Supporting Member of TMP15 Oct 2011 6:25 a.m. PST

Olympia is history alive. To kill her would be criminal.

Personal logo Klebert L Hall Supporting Member of TMP15 Oct 2011 7:09 a.m. PST

Of course it's worth saving.
It's one of the ten most important naval museum vessels in the world, maybe one of the top five.

Not only does the ship have great historical significance due to it's exploits, it also signifies the emergence of the US as a world power, and is of enormous interest as a nearly unique surviving example of the period's engineering. It's a national historic landmark, and a national engineering landmark. It's also esthetically pleasing. There are many museum ships here in the US I'd much much rather see sacrificed first.

Unfortunately, I strongly doubt that anyone with the money cares enough to save it. I predict "reef" for it's future.
-Kle.

Old Slow Trot15 Oct 2011 7:38 a.m. PST

Keep her floatin'!

Tom Bryant Supporting Member of TMP15 Oct 2011 12:23 p.m. PST

I don't really know what to say. The Russo Japanese war has not one but TWO survivng warships from that action the Battleship Mikasa and the Light Cruiser Aurora. IIRC there is a Greek Battleship that still survives, however there is no other Protected Cruise that survives from teh pre-Dreadnought era. Oh, wait a minute, yes there is, its called the U.S.S. OLYMPIA! Gee why don't we put some cash into that one?

I too am one for moving the ship rather than turning her into a reef. She's too valuable to waste this way. I'm surprised there hasn't been a donor to her cause that would donate the time to do a short film on her historical significance and value. Then get somebody like the History Channel or PBS to run it. Maybe its too much to ask, but people need to see this aspect of their history disappearing. Maybe they can save this lady before she's sent to marry Davy Jones.

14Bore15 Oct 2011 12:43 p.m. PST

Yes, but I'll admit its 35 miles away and never been there.

Militia Pete Supporting Member of TMP15 Oct 2011 1:30 p.m. PST

Yes. Part of my childhood was going on it. There use to be a resturant on a ship near it at Penns Landing. Sadly, that had a fire.

WarpSpeed15 Oct 2011 6:56 p.m. PST

Absolutely!

Valator15 Oct 2011 8:41 p.m. PST

She's doomed.

Her hull is severely deteriorated, the river needs dredged before she can be moved, and the hull restoration alone is estimated at nearly $20 million, with that much or more needed for the rest of the work.

A million here, a million there, and soon we're talking real money. That we let this happen to the USS Olympia is a national disgrace.

Tom Bryant Supporting Member of TMP16 Oct 2011 2:28 p.m. PST

Valator, even if she's doomed to be reefed, they'll still have to dredge to pull her out anyway. Why not work to save her? I realize its not the Berkeley, California Warm, Fuzzy Puppies and Kitties Home run by PETA. Or the "Go, Girl, Go!" Bitter Lesbian Poet fest or whatever other cockamamie thing Congress finds to spend money on these days we can put a few shkels toward this as well dammit!

Panfilov20 Oct 2011 2:51 p.m. PST

Yes, please save her. Why can't some billionaire come up with the millions? The US needs a National Heritage foundation like the UK has. No way should she be reefed.

At the risk of going to the dawhouse, I thought ther problem with congress these days was they didn't want to spend OUR money on anything that didn't please the Plutocrats.

Valator21 Oct 2011 7:52 p.m. PST

Ah, the government should save the day? Why can't WE save the day? Get some skin in the game, plunk down some cash and make things happen? No? Didn't think so.

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP22 Oct 2011 12:59 p.m. PST

Mr. Bryant, sir,

Since we are apparently allowed political and religious discussion on this board, that was an inane comment. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

MH

HesseCassel Inactive Member27 Oct 2011 9:15 p.m. PST

part of the problem is that it is part of a small museum that had millions stolen by one of its supposed watchers, State Senator Vince Fumo. While it is true that he went to jail, finally, that doesn't return the money to the museum, nor does it change how it is run as a political patronage cash cow. Altho I'm sure that whoever is handling it now is a lot more discreet. You can probably google the news articles on it.

Bottom line, is that Philly will never bother to handle it properly unless a big player is watching over it. The ship should be handed back to the US Navy, who can then run it as some sort of USNR station. AT least then the power wouldn't be in the hands of our local losers.

I live here, I've been on board, I used to live near the ship, I jogged several times a week thru Penn's Landing, but I'm not giving a dime until I know my money will be properly taken care of, and not spent by some philandering sleezeball local politico partyhound playboy. My two cents.

Pyrate Captain20 Dec 2011 11:10 a.m. PST

Someone save me from political correctness, please.

The Spanish-American war brought the United States to the front of world politics and is arguably the conflict that set the stage for American naval power today. Pushing aside the view of apologetic defeatists, whether they are right or wrong, and in my humble opinion, any artifact of this nature and magnitude is worthy of restoration and preservation, if for no other reason, as an example of the technology of it's day.

One can argue the justifications of conflicts until the cows come home, but those arguments are unsound when it comes to preservation of historical artifacts.

Until recently, there has been debate on the benefit of preserving such vessels as USS Texas and even HMS Victory. My answer to those who would give up the fight to preserve history is to step aside and let someone in who will continue the fight.

There is a growing cancer within the nation that appears to justify values based on contemporary usage and application only. This can be witnessed in many American libraries that have discarded treasures of printed word in order to make space for X-Box games and Lady GaGa recordings. Let not the historically inclined fall into the trap of submission to a grotesque fad of ideology. USS Olympia is well worth saving.

I know I run the risk of spending time in the Dog-House for this series of statements, and I'll serve my time as necessary, (I have before: repeat offender), but if the "inane comment" may be introduced, I feel obligated to provide counter-argument.

I also agree that the Navy should take her under care until such time a as proper home can be found for her. My suggestion for permanent display is the U.S. Naval Academy, moored next to the mast of the USS Maine.

coastal220 Dec 2011 10:09 p.m. PST

"I also agree that the Navy should take her under care until such time a as proper home can be found for her. My suggestion for permanent display is the U.S. Naval Academy, moored next to the mast of the USS Maine."

Oh, you mean the same way the USN took "care" of the Kearsarge by allowing her to sink of rot in 1956 while at anchor? Or the tender "care" it gave the Oregon by taking her back and gutting her for use as an ammo barge (which they didn't even need) during WWII? The fact of the matter is that the USN has never had much respect for its history. If not for the heavy arm-twisting of FDR, the Constitution would've been allowed to rot to death. The LAST thing the Olympia needs is to be given over the "care" of the USN.

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP21 Dec 2011 9:09 a.m. PST

Pyrate Captain,

I think you missed my point. The "inane comment" was Tom's implication that PETA, sexual orientation, and inadequate historical preservation are somehow connected, presumably as some sort of evil left-wing conspiracy.

FYI, I support spending money on historical preservation, including on the Olympia.

MH

Pyrate Captain21 Dec 2011 10:18 a.m. PST

No Coastal2, I actually had in mind a symbiotic relationship between the Navy and a private organization, providing Olympia similar accommodations that Missouri and Bowfin received.

Anything with Navy co-sponsorship would be better than the buffoonery that manages historic vessels like Batfish and those in Seawolf Park, and let us not forget the subject of this post.

Granted it would seem an impossibility to save every vessel that made history, but certainly those vessels with the distinction of "last-of" deserve better than to be the cash cow of crooked politicians while dying an agonizing death. Yes, I believe there is evidence to indicate the Navy can and does effect historic warship preservation, even to go so far as keep at least one in commission. FDR is long gone, but Constitution is still here.

I of course respect your opinion. I am just not in agreement with it.

Rallynow22 Dec 2011 12:10 a.m. PST

Much was said of the USS Texas. It was a "doomed ship", "could not be brought back" and yet there she is.

The USS Texas was saved by the voters of Texas, who authorized 25 million dollars to be used to restore the ship plus another 4 million raised by a private foundation. It can be done.

To let the Olympia be scraped or left to fall apart is criminal. We haven't saved every ship. We lost some great number of ships to early nuclear weapons testing. The carrier I served on was scraped.

The Olympia has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the US Government. I would not mind if my tax dollars went to the saving of this ship. There certainly are worst projects that have used tax money.

The Olympia project should have been done when the economy was booming. I don't know if there is the political will to take on a project like that now.

I do recall a huge train museum I think in Pennsylvania which was railroaded (no pun intended) through congress even though the NPS did not want it. So if there is the will there is usually a way.

If the USS North Carolina is in Wilmington and the USS Texas is near Houston and the USS New Jersey is in it's home state, maybe a more appropriate location would be Olympia, Washington.

That might help fund raising but I think moving it there would be quite an expensive undertaking. Olympia seems to be a more appropriate location.

KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP25 May 2012 7:58 p.m. PST

yes

SECURITY MINISTER CRITTER Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member26 May 2012 7:55 a.m. PST

I'm still a hard YES!

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