What’s the most endangered floating naval monument? Is it the soon-to-be abandoned ex-USS Olympia (C 6)? The “get-it-out-of-water-or-it’ll-sink” ex-USS Texas (BB 35)? The “dry-dock or dispose” ex-USS Yorktown (CV-10)?

If the Navy had a hefty (yet limited) amount of funds earmarked to bolster floating Naval memorials/floating landmarks, which monuments would you like to see the fund save?

Or…would you prefer funds went towards the best-preserved vessels? Or just save the ones in trouble? Do let me know!

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    I would vote OLYMPIA, as she was part of the fleet that made us a First Team World Power.

    If TEXAS can be saved by getting her out of the water, than perhaps she should be. There is already a landlocked BUCKLEY in Texas, so they should be able to find someone who knows how to do it. I do think it is the State of Texas’ play to call, however.

    How bad is YORKTOWN? It would be a pity to lose her, but there are other ESSEX still around.

  • Chuck Hill

    I agree with Scott about the relative importance of the three to history. The Texas is still a very important ship, since she is the last WWI era battleship left.

    The Mikasa and the Victory are also out of the water as I recall.

    Really a shame we did not keep the WWII Enterprise.

  • PK

    olympia’s problems are of the kind that if you touch something the whole thing is going to fall apart.

    possibly digging a large hole, letting water and boat into the hole then pumping water and dirt into the hole with the dirt staying behind and supporting the ship until all of the water is gone might be the thing to do.


  • Paul

    If we cut funding for one LCS that’d give us half a billion to preserve all of these ships. Heck I bet Olympia would be good on antipiracy patrols as well!

    Why don’t we have an National Naval Museum where all of these ships can be brought together in one place to show the progression of our heritage?

    Put the Olympia next to the Texas, followed by a destroyer,a cruiser, an Essex class, then a supercarrier preserved. the sub exhibit can contain a Gato class, the Nautilus and then a GUPPY and Trieste with other boats I’m not sure are out there. Oh, and Albacore as well.

  • Well, the Texas is so infirm it can’t even make the nearest suitable dry-dock. And the prospect of blocking the shipping channel down there gives everybody nightmares.

    Olympia, too, is…well…that ship is on the ragged edge. But it really needs a helping hand…

  • PeterK

    This is like asking “which of your children would you like to save?”

    Save all three. they each represent a key point in American naval history
    The Texas has been saved in the past and it looks like TPWD has done a good analysis of the problem

  • Charley

    All I can add to this discussion is that the Olympia in Philadelphia is a one of a kind. Visit it.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    This is a piece that really gets the blood up.

    Which do you save? All of them. The $150 million required represents .0000035% of the Federal budget. And talk about a “shovel-ready project”? What shipyards do we have that are in need of revenue or need to maintain the kinds of skills a guy like Byron may take with him into retirement in the next ten years?

    Put a $350 million annual line item in the Department of Interior annual budget for material upkeep of ALL of our museum ships. (Except Constitution, which remains in commission in the US Navy) Mandate that 85% of the money be spent in repair and restoration, only 15% in administration. Owners of ships, including non-profits, agree to allow for periodic inspection and repair work to be done, either in situ or at a designated site with yard facilities available.

    By my count, there are 5 CVs (4 Essex-class and 1 Midway), 6 BBs, 3 CA/CLG/C, 10 DD/DE, and 19 SS/SSN currently in existence. Plus there are a handful of Liberty and Victory ships, LSTs, PT boats, and other miscellaneous craft of historic significance. Perhaps $350 million is not the right number, perhaps it is. Docents and volunteers can do the painting and cosmetic work. But the repair work to maintain these vessels safely and with dignity is beyond those organizations that hold these valuable and historic warships. Of all the things my government spends my tax money on, preserving our naval heritage is among the least objectionable.

  • If difficult choices have to be made, Olympia and Texas come before Yorktown, given that three other Essex class carriers have been preserved. Tragic, however, if any of them have to be disposed of.

  • Goodness! I’d love to save ’em all (and URR is right, they’d be great “shovel-worthy” economic stimulus projects)! But, if there isn’t enough money in the budget to save ’em all, I’d love to see the Navy start taking steps to encourage good management/preservation of key historical assets.

    First, I’d like to see the Navy come out with some sort of list/ranking of the nation’s naval heritage fleet by historical value. It won’t be perfect and it would drive people crazy… but it’d be a start…

    Second, I’d like to see the Navy develop a small team to monitor monument management (some of the memorial mismanagement out there has been AMAZING).

    Third, it’d be great to create some incentives to award sound memorial management (and develop a means to sanction those who really fall down on the job).

    Thoughts? Ideas?

  • Chuck Hill

    The Brits seem to be doing this a lot better than we manage, out of a smaller budget. What are they doing right?

  • Jim Dolbow

    I agree with Chuck Hill that it was a shame that the first aircraft carrier named Enterprise was not preserved.

    I also agree with URR and say save them all. I hate it when folks and the govt get frugal with preserving our nation’s naval heritage when there is so much waste in the rest of the government.

    One days waste, fraud, and abuse of Medicare/Medicaid would maintain the nation’s historic fleet of ships.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    I asked that question, why the Brits seem to have fewer problems. The answer was pretty simple from the guy I asked. The water is colder. Yorktown, Texas, and even Olympia are in much warmer water than say, Belfast. The original discussion was of the reserve fleets (James River vs the Thames), but I am sure it applies.

  • Jay

    #1 would be Olympia. Unique, and historic beyond the others. Also, the lowest price tag. #2 would be Texas, but, seems the Texas BB Commission has a plan and the funding in place to dry berth her. Of course, the $120M price tag on Yorktown staggers. Is dry berthing, like Texas, an option for these vessels? Can that price be brought down by following the Texas plan?

  • UltimaRatioReg


    I would much prefer that the Navy stay out of it as much as possible. There are legal prohibitions from the Navy spending money on preservation efforts of museum ships, which is actually a good idea. They would make absolute hash of the effort, run WAY over budget, take far too long, and afore ya know it, the money is spent, the ships are still rusting, and there is enough force structure (civilian) created to manage the project so the budget is over a billion just to do the surveys.

  • SwitchBlade

    I think all three should be saved – but by mandating that the agencies they were turned over to fund the maintenance. I know they’re all broke, and maybe they’re all closing state parks like Arizona is; but they took on the obligation when they wanted the ships.

    I will however add some related comments.

    Texas has the right idea in a permanent dry dock for the USS Texas. They are not active ships – they don’t move around for any reason, and there is no reason they should be stored in the water to incur the required periodic maintenance that entails.

    In addition, prior to making any further ship donations, the procedure should require a permanent dry dock as part of the display plan.

    And last, the navy should consider an enclosed semi-permanent dry dock display for the USS Constitution. Along the lines of the HMS Victory but with the ability to re-float the ship for special occasions. The display could even have a retractable component for the roof and maybe one to three sides for the open air feel when the weather is appropriate. Sports stadiums have developed the technology so it should be doable and reduce some of the periodic maintenance required for that ship. The annual turn-around may or may not be done away with – it wouldn’t have to be canceled but would cost more.

  • Everybody agrees to fund ship maintenance when the get the ship…but then, you know, those pesky contingencies start popping up that sap the ability of the host org to maintain it…

    If ships do get bailed out, then what is the incentive for anybody to even try to fund the maintenance? A few of these memorial operators have been playing a sort of historical chicken–short-shifting maintenance while hoping that the Feds will swoop in to save the day…

  • Chris G

    When history is not taught in schools, it has no meaning. Until such time as we value the sacrafices of those who have preserved our freedoms, monuments, whether afloat or ashore, will continue to decay. “Those” people our generally found in our own family histories.

  • I belong to a group of volunteers preserving a WW II era ATA that was subsequently transferred to the Coast Guard as a WMEC. Comanche (ATA/WMEC-202) is still in operating condition. Our budget is tiny, but our biggeest asset is that many of our members are former crewmen of Comanche, or her sister Modoc. Our biggest needs are money for insurance and a permanent homeport. Up to now, we have been bouncing from one location to another as we can arrange. Anyone in the Northwest who might be interested in helping out can go here:


    Let me tell you that for an old hand like me, it is absolutely thrilling to cast her off and steam around Puget Sound.

  • Chuck Hill

    The Coast Guard has been fortunate to have a number of ships saved. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that their maintenance requirements are much more modest. Light ships are probably over represented, but it is still remarkable that we still have a 125 ft Cutter finished in 1927 and a 165 ft cutter from 1935 as well as two 327s that served in WWII.


  • Royce Engler

    One of my last assignments as an Engineering Duty Officer in the Reserves was at NAVSEA making annual inspections on monument ships. There is a NAVSEA program to keep track of them and make sure they have minimum safety standards and are kept presentable. The owners, however are responsible for any preservation such as dry berthing. Funds were approved by Texas voters a couple of years ago to dry berth the Texas. There has been some resistance from environmentalists and a group that thinks the location of the Texas is where Sam Houston camped before the battle of San Jacinto, but I think the project is moving forward.


    It may be a case of having to admit that some ships are too far gone to save.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Everybody agrees to fund ship maintenance when the get the ship.”

    Yep. but the VA is now charging service member health insurance for service-related wounds, injuries, and illnesses. So what the hell is the federal government’s complaint?

  • Chuck Hill

    I only know of one LST and that has been saved and one LCVP replica. I don’t know of any LCIs that have been saved. By comparison WWII battleships are very well represented as are WWII carriers, destroyers, and submarines. It would be good to save some of the less glamorous classes so future generations don’t think the “greatest generation” all went to sea on Iowa Class battleships and Essex class carriers with angled decks.

  • If an Australian can pitch in here.. we have a number of retired naval assets on display across the country but an interesting one is the casing of HMAS Otway (an Oberon Class Royal Australian Navy submarine)that sits in the park by the museum (web address below). Now, as vessels retired to museums do not go to sea, they could be located on land in a suitable spot, minimizing the maintenance issues dramatically. It is all about best bang for your buck, and having the vessel on land (near water) will also encourage tourists who may not feel comfortable on a boat that is on the water. We can always take people out on the water in operating vessels, but these heritage vessels are too important to be left to the ignominy of slow decay.


  • SwitchBlade

    “”UltimaRatioReg Says:

    “Everybody agrees to fund ship maintenance when the get the ship.”

    Yep. but the VA is now charging service member health insurance for service-related wounds, injuries, and illnesses. So what the hell is the federal government’s complaint?””

    I don’t see that as really related to the issue. We should probably keep this on topic and put your VA/insurance issues in another blog?

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Yes, it is a bit of a rant. But if the point of the comment is that one should be held accountable for promises made, then that there is a two way street. Uncle Sam’s enforcement of commitments from the museum holders would ring more than a bit hollow…

  • Tim–It is rather interesting that Australia has such a thorough collection of maritime monuments. Any reason as to why the maritime services resonated with your fellow citizens? Given your country’s gallant efforts ashore, I’d have expected something of a disproportionate focus on memorializing land forces.

    Chuck–I TOTALLY agree with you! The larger vessels always seem to captivate–but then again, you’re looking at the big bad ‘ole Blue Water bias–that shortchanges all the little guys in the support chain (but then again, they’ve always gotten the short end of the stick!). I’m still shocked that we only have two LSTs around…

    Switch et al. First, As tough as it is, I do like the idea of maintaining ships in operating condition. Take the old sub Panpanito–they really pushed to maintain that sucker as an operational (uh..surface) vessel–and, so doing, provided a really interesting link to the past. Forget the naval heritage for a moment, and consider the other grounds potential preservation. As an engineering artifact, it’s priceless…

    Second, does anybody have some thoughts one assembling a “critical mass” of vessels in one (or two) areas? Is the value and potential draw of a big multi-ship facility (as per, say Battleship Cove) greater than a whole bunch of competing memorials (as is the case in San Francisco)?

  • Chuck Hill

    D. SpringBd.,

    Looks like Patriots Point had a great collection, but they had a hard time keeping it up.

    Re Battleship Cove in Mass, don’t forget they have the Salem very near by also.

  • Well, several reasons… Australia gets a high percentage of its manufactured goods and other imports via sea (97%). We are an island and our sea battles rank amongst our military history somewhere on par with our land battles. Also, since the majority of the population lives near the coast or near rivers and other waterways, and has a small fishing boat, or uses a ferry at some point, there is a general maritime connection – it is this that councils will look to when dishing out money to restore vessels, although mostly private funds are sought with government (public) support. Warships are major assets in a relatively small and young country, with its modest navy, that makes them the most meaningful type of vessel to retain (Sydney Darling Harbour, for instance). We also feel connected to the UK historically so more salt in the veins there too. On top of all this, every state has mad-keen competitive yachtsmen (sport is a religion here) so in many ways we are a sea loving nation.

    However, we have not always been quick to retain naval heritage as the link below indicates, the Victorian Naval monitor Cerberus was allowed to crumble as the debate raged here whether to restore or not – we did keep the name though and our sailors are trained at HMAS Cerberus in Victoria.


  • Surfcaster

    A long term plan really must be put in place for the most reasonable preservation of their history for past and future generations to absorb. Next month we will have our Cub Scouts “camp” overnight on the Massachusetts. I have had my son there before and I believe it struck a chord with him as I was able to pass on some of the history. Climbing all over the turrets was fun for an 8 year old (this reminds me that I need to renew our family membership to Battleship Cove). We visited all of the ships and most of the displays. He wants to go back.

    On a side note while cleaning from the floods (I’m in Warwick, RI. where we had a little water this past week) I ran across a dozen or so photos I took in the late ’90s of BB59 in Dry Dock in Boston for repairs. I’ll try to get them up on Flickr one of these days, maybe after the Scout trip.

  • Lou

    I vote Olympia too, hands down.

    Intrepid is a viable Essex class carrier monument, and after the Bush administration, I don’t want to be reminded of Texas in any way … especially since BB35 is not in itself historically significant.

  • Lou

    … the Bush2 administration, I should have said. His dad did very well … in the Navy in WW2 as well as in the White House.

  • Lou

    “Really a shame we did not keep the WWII Enterprise.”

    It is (President) Eisenhower’s shame. I can remember as a kid wanting to see Big E preserved – Aurora Models helped by putting a fund campaign leaflet in its WW2 Enterprise kit, as I remember, and I believe Bull Halsey spoke out for her – and then Eisenhower redlining it anyway, claiming budgetary reasons. It was a cheap shot in all respects.

  • Mike Carroll

    Don’t we have a Command and ADM who were supposed to be providing, how is it phrased, leadership on these issues?

    I’m really looking forward to reading the NYT when each one sinks at her berth and becomes a salvage incident. Imagine the pictures. There’s OLYMPIA rolled over on her side with her screws out of the water a la OKLAHOMA, in downtown Philly. TEXAS settles slowly into the SJ mud with water lapping at her main battery, add a little fuel oil, a location set for ARIZONA. YORKTOWN will have just copped LEXINGTON’s shtick, stuck on a muddy beach. Secretary Mabus will have the opportunity to make grave statements, “We told them they had to take care of them.” Maybe someone should appeal form support from Mr. Boehner by reminding him of his naval service tenure.

  • eastriver

    @Switch: “And last, the navy should consider an enclosed semi-permanent dry dock display for the USS Constitution.” Salt water is the best preservative for old wooden ships. Putting her in air would accelerate degeneration. Dry rot microbes love fresh water and air, hate salt. But the roof would be a good idea, over her slip.

    @Mike C: “There’s OLYMPIA rolled over on her side with her screws out of the water a la OKLAHOMA, in downtown Philly…” She’s already pretty much in the mud. The basin she’s in is silted up badly; a dredge job would be necessary to take her to a shipyard.

    @URR: “I would much prefer that the Navy stay out of it as much as possible…” Spot on, and sadly one can see that in the last CONSTITUTION refit.

    “Which do you save? All of them…Put a $350 million annual line item in the Department of Interior annual budget…” Agreed absolutely that they all should be saved, but Interior has made a sad hash over the years of the San Francisco maritime museum that they acquired many years ago. They did what you suggest the Navy might end up doing, over-bureaucratizing to the budget-breaking point. Neglect to the point of loss of some ships in the collection. I’d suggest someone who knows about preservation, maybe the Smithsonian? At least they have a track record in the wonderful air museum out by Dulles.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    The Smithsonian? Interesting idea. I know Interior has an uneven record, but it IS in their mission. We will need naval architects, and some honest, competent management of the effort. Wonder if the Smithsonian could handle that.

  • Mike Carroll

    There’s the solution: Salvation by Silt! They’re already sitting on the bottom. Who needs to float? Close the hatches, turn off the pumps, and and paint a new boot top line.

    If you expect Interior to take up the slack, you obviously haven’t lately been to a national park beyond the DC environs. Out here in the boondocks it’s pretty easy to see bears, trees and flowers don’t vote, per the Rickover reflection on naming subs.

    However, considering the quantities of petroleum waste removed from TEXAS during her 1990 drydocking, I would be interested to know if anyone has genuinely surveyed YORKTOWN’s tanks.

  • Byron

    I know when Saratoga was de’com’d that all of her tanks were washed down and cleaned. You have no idea how hot some of those fourth deck voids (that had the manholes to several other void/tanks) were, especially in August and absolutely no ventilation other than what you brought with you.

    I’d be worred more about asbestos and red lead, not to mention the zinc and cadmium.

  • Lawrence Burr

    Olympia must be saved,

    She is a transformative ship–displaying shipbuilding and engineering skills of the early steel age, when ship frames were cast in iron and formed by human muscle.

    She was Dewey’s flagship at Manila Bay, and the victory established the US as a global naval power.

    Olympia provided sterling service in WW 1, and brought the body of the unknown soldier home from France.

    If there is any pride in US Naval history–she cannot be left to sink in the mud of the Delaware river.

  • Chuck Hill

    Olympia is absolutely unique. She is our Warrior. Next to the Constitution the most important historical US warship in existence, and I think the only existing warship of her type in the world. Only ones close are an armored cruiser in Greece and a monitor in Peru (I think).

  • Mike Carroll

    OLYMPIA, exactly! Too bad the NHHC has chosen to a) sit on its hands, or b) axially invert for further cogitation, or c) continue to look for more a comfortable spot of sand.

    If this is out of their charter, exactly what value is their charter?

    From a guy who did tank closeouts on TURNER JOY and SPHINX.

  • There is a group in philadelphia that is working with all haist for the cruiser olympia in order to save her and return her to a museum in herself, they are the Friends of the Cruiser Olympia, sign on to there websight if you are willing to suport this group http://WWW.fotco.org

  • eastriver

    Apparently, things are looking pretty grim for Olympia — seems they’re looking at making her a reef.

    Found in today’s Philadelphia papers: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/20100523_Historic_warship_s_future_may_be_sunk.html

  • As the Olympia’s biographer (USS Olympia – Herald of Empire (Naval Institute Press) would it not seem sensible to get all of them out of water ala H.M.S. Victory and the Cutty Sark in GB? None of these ship’s problems pose anything new – the original Cruiser Olympia Association anticipated forty years ago and Independence Seaport Museum was perhaps short-sided in taking on her preservation in the first place. Hhistoric ships are a sink hole of money – why do you think a full ship’s complement was busy daily when they were on active service? Put them all in drydock it would cut costs immensely.

  • G.A. Blume

    All of them. Olympia and Texas are one-of-a-kinds and Yorktown’s service record is remarkable. Patriot’s Point is/was a joke. They give up the Savannah (nuclear merchant), sell the Ingham (Coast Guard big dog), and have neglected Laffey (5 time kamikaze survivor) to the point of severe leakage. I’d talked to some VIPs in regard starting a Friends of the Yorktown group similar to that of the Olympia but the task looks hopeless. Patriot’s Point vows to simply repaint the vessel and so far their painting skills have been pathetic. Move the aircraft and displays, don’t paint the tires! What money they get they waist in directing the museum towards children.

  • Go to the web site http://www.mareislandnys.com and click on Olympia for some updated info.