USS Olympia to be Sunk!

Discussion in '1800-1914' started by Njaco, May 26, 2010.

  1. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    PhillyBurbs.com: Historic Olympia warship may be sunk to make reef

    Historic Olympia warship may be sunk to make reef.

    By: Marty Reddington
    phillyBurbs.com
    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A U.S. warship that survived the Spanish-American War and World War I and has been on the Philadelphia waterfront for a half-century may wind up in a watery grave — sunk deliberately to form an artificial reef off New Jersey.

    The Independence Seaport Museum says it can no longer afford the upkeep of the cruiser Olympia, the last surviving vessel from the 1898 Spanish-American War, which is now docked at Penn’s Landing. At least $20 million is needed to tow, restore, interpret and endow the deteriorating vessel, interim museum president James McLane said.

    The museum and the Navy have already checked with officials of New Jersey’s Artificial Reef Program on the possibility of sinking the 5,600-ton ship. The vessel will be open until the end of September and then closed while its future is determined.

    “Another option would be scrapping Olympia,” McLane said. “But the Navy has told us that ‘reefing’ is better because it would allow divers to go down on it and would preserve Olympia.”

    Navy spokeswoman Patricia Dolan said any plan to scrap or reef the vessel would need Navy approval. Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the department is not endorsing the idea.

    The possibility dismays Harry Burkhardt, president of Friends of the Cruiser Olympia, which has begun trying to raise money to preserve the ship. Burkhardt, 53, a merchant marine captain from South Philadelphia, said he would turn the Olympia into a self-sustaining museum with a living history crew and education programs for inner-city children.

    The Olympia was state-of-the-art when it led five other U.S. warships into Manila Bay in the Philippines on May 1, 1898. Commodore George Dewey was standing on the ship’s bridge when he gave the famous order “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.”

    Under Dewey’s command, the U.S. fleet destroyed 10 Spanish cruisers and gunboats in hours without losing an American life. The Olympia spent World War I in the Atlantic Ocean and brought remains of the Unknown Soldier home from France in 1921.

    The vessel was docked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard from 1922 to 1959 and was on display at Pier 11 at the Benjamin Franklin Bridge through the 1960s until 1976, when it was moved to Penn’s Landing. The vessel is now the world’s oldest floating steel warship.

    Naval historian Lawrence Burr said scrapping or sinking the vessel off New Jersey would be “a national disgrace and major embarrassment for Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.” He said the reefing plan would make the ship accessible only to a small number of divers and might result in it being plundered for souvenirs.

    “Neither the Spanish navy in 1898 nor the German navy in 1917-18 was able to sink Olympia,” he said. “It will be ironic if the state of New Jersey is able to sink this unique historic warship.”

    Mountain States Collector - Article

    Historic Naval Ships Visitors Guide - USS Olympia
     

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  2. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Typical of the city of Philadelphia. The most crooked city in America after Detroit.
     
  3. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    That would be a sad loss.
     
  4. T Bolt

    T Bolt Well-Known Member

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    What the eff are they thinking!!! I didn't even know there were any ships left from the Spanish American War. I cannot believe that the government would even consider sinking or scrapping something like that!!!! We need to keep reminders of history like that around so our children have a sense of history. God knows they are not learning it in School. My kids are 10 12 and if it was not for me they would only have a vague sense that something called World War two even happened let alone WW I or the Spanish American War. Sorry for Ranting so much but this just p**sed me off. :evil:
     
  5. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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  6. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Disgraceful!

    The ship should be saved!

    TO
     
  7. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I have been on the ship several times and it is definately worth it. Its sooooo different from sailing ships and WWII, it just has to be visited. This is a real shame and I hope they save it.

    They should get the money from the estate of Vince Fumo (former politician) who was just sent to prison last year for money crap including messing around with money for the Maritime Museum. make him pay for it.
     
  8. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    I've been aboard her several times myself Njaco. What a marvelous vessel!!!! The captains quarters has two 5 inch guns inside it. Sure would be a shame to let her go down. I've also been aboard the WW2 sub that is docked right next to her at Penn's landing. I think it's the Becuna.

    The pic is from Wiki when searching for USS Becuna. And that's the Olympia right next to her. You can see the guns I'm talking about just above and to the left of the flag on the sub.
     

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  9. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Certainly looks like a beautiful ship that is in good condition and deserves to be saved as a valuable piece of history. Surely there are some other ships that are of less importance that could be sunk to make the reef rather than her...
     
  10. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    That's what I was thinking Gnomey. Why sink a fully restored ship that just needs general maintenance, or upkeep. They are not starting with a ship that has been neglected in moth balls for decades.
     
  11. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    It will be a sad day if they do turn it into a reef. :(


    Wheels
     
  12. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    My initial thought is "save that ship!" I like the idea of using the money-grubbing ex-politician's pocketbook to do so.... My second thought, though, is that if nobody can figure out a way to save her, then by all means reef her instead of chopping her up for razor blades!
     
  13. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Olympia needs to be saved, and I'm slightly surprised that the state isn't doing something about it. After all, the Royal Navy maintains HMS Victory and has done so since the late 18th century :lol:

    Seriously though, $20 million is peanuts compared to bailouts, healthcare etc etc, so why can't Washington help to meet the cost of maintaining a historic landmark like this?
     
  14. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    I agree BT! The Olympia has been preserved for decades, to me the talk of sinking her is crazy.
     
  15. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    There would be a huge public outcry here if anyone suggested sinking HMS Victory or even HMS Belfast.I think someone should definitely be approaching Capitol Hill to try and secure Olympia's future.
     
  16. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    I agree RA. I want to see her saved also, but sinking her is preferable to scrapping.

    TO
     
  17. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Just to put the icing on the cake, here is the politician I am talking about. See the key phrase that I highlighted. That is who is taking care of this ship!!!

    Vince Fumo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    "On February 6, 2007, a Federal grand jury named Fumo in a 137 count indictment, alleging mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and filing a false tax return. Charges include using state workers to oversee construction of his mansion, spy on his ex-wife and work on his farm. Additionally, the indictment accused him of misusing $1 million of state funds and $1 million from his charity for personal and campaign use and commandeering yachts from the Philadelphia Seaport Museum for personal travel.

    disgusting.
     
  18. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Send Fumo to Somalia and save the court costs!
     
  19. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    WTF?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
     
  20. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Fumo was the big political player in Philadelphia for a long time. Got to the point he though of himself as ommipotent. They finally caught him. But it took a long time and he really did it to himself. If he hadn't gone halfnutz with power, he'd still be at it today.

    Phila is one incredible corrupt city.
     
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