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.” LINK

I simply can’t believe what passes for rational thinking in Philadelphia. The ongoing destruction of our national as well as local history never seems to stop. I first watched the destruction of the Race St. Firehouse so we could expand the oh-so-needed Pennsylvania Convention Center.

We then were put on the death watch for the SS United States, a historic cruise ship and source of immense national pride. Now it appears that the USS Olympia is being served up as (of all things) an artificial reef! Can anyone make sense of this? Turning a piece of our nation’s military heritage, especially one that managed to survive this long is more than a tragedy. It is a desecration.


Philadelphia has one industry right now and that is tourism. People need a reason to stay and spend money in Philly, and if we keep destroying those reasons no one will bother to come. The Mayor has just decided we need a 10% real estate tax increase among other tax hikes just to stay afloat (NPI). Instead of seizing the opportunity to turn our ever-mismanaged riverfront into a source of pride and revenue, our elected leaders sit by without a clue as to how to IMPROVE our city.

It is simply maddening. With 800 BILLION dollars of federal stimulus money floating around, do you actually expect me to believe that Philly can’t acquire the necessary money to add these two historic ships to a permanent attraction just blocks from Independence Mall? Seriously?


You have to be kidding.


  1. Old NFO says:

    I’m not surprised… There is definitely an anti-military (and NAVY) sentiment out there. We’re losing more and more of the floating museums because they aren’t “money” makers for the cities. Too bad Patriot’s Point or Norfolk can’t take the Oly and at least save her from a pathetic end.

  2. Bill says:

    Im glad you posted this article, I find it very disturbing, the lack of pride or interest in preserving history. Its almost like nobody cares about the pride, hard work ,and sacrifices of our fathers and grandfathers, and their love of this country. I have fond memories of the Olimpia my grandfather , a ww2 vet took me to see it as a kid a very fond memory , one that i hope will be there for future generations.

  3. […] Captain America has his take on the subject here. […]

  4. Bob G. says:

    Okay, now (for me) , this is a REAL…W -T- F? moment!!

    I toured that ship w/ a buddy WAY back when she was tied beneath the Ben Franklin Bridge (across from the Philly fireboats) near Front St.
    We were in th4e engine room and everything…damn fine “self” tour…lol.
    The caretaker there just told us to “not hurt ourselves”.
    We didn’t.

    But what idiot, obviously incapable of rational thought is behind this demise of a glorious warship that happens to be a part of OUR HISTORY?

    I didn’t even know about the SS United States (a trans-atlantic record speed holder, if I recall)
    But the Olympia…a freaking REEF???
    NO freaking way!

    If Philly wants tourism so damn badly, why not armor up some buses and charge money to drive visitors through the “badlands” much like the old “safari drives” they used to have…(complete with monkeys crapping and elephant drool on your car)
    Oh wow…did I say that?
    Sorry, but it’s just what I remember about “certain” parts of the city.
    (that obviously have not changed in decades)
    Before they, (the city government) fell farther down whatever rabbit hole that poses as reason these days, believing all was right in the world.

    It was bad enough to see the Navy base close (best damn dry dock on the east coast – sorry, Norfolk) and the naval hospital…should have never happened.

    Whatta bunch of asshats!

  5. proof says:

    Maybe we could turn the Smithsonian into a shopping mall while we’re at it?
    The feds should pony up some cash for this. It is a national treasure. But failing that, the city and state should be willing to find a backbone and make it happen.
    There has got to be something in the budgets, local state and federal that could go before this!

  6. C/A says:

    All I can do is try to raise awareness from this end. Hopefully this will get passed on before it’s too late. Maybe a lawmaker with some ballz will step forward. Unfortunately if it ends up like the Race St. Firehouse I don’t hold out much hope.

  7. Dustoff says:

    But the Navy has told us that ‘reefing’ is better because it would allow divers to go down on it and would preserve Olympia.”
    Say WHAT!

    I’m a wreck diver and love it, but this is just plain stupid!

    I’m sure they could find many other “old” ships out there that could be sunk.

  8. Dustoff says:


    In case you didn’t know. Another lost brother. )-:
    AP) — A 30-year-old Chicago police officer who recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq was shot and killed when several people approached him outside his family’s home and tried to steal his new motorcycle, authorities said Thursday.

  9. Force Factor says:

    It would be ashame to see the old lady go. Doubt Obama and company would spend one dime to save her. He really doesn’t like anything military—he must tolerate, but not appreciate!

    • Greggo in Texas says:

      Well, actually Mr. Obama just may want to do something good for Olympia. As some may recall, I believe he has recently read “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” and that TR was a pretty big deal around the time period when Olympia was in service. San Juan Hill and Great White Fleet may come to your mind here. Teddy was a HUGE naval fan and vet of the Spanish-American war so saving this great lady from a pitiful end would be the right thing to do.

  10. C. L. Rhode says:

    My grandfather served on the Olympia and the news she is in such dire straights has shocked my family. We would be willing to donate to any cause to save her as long as the folks that have let her degrade to the state she is in currently have no say in her future. I also hope the Navy will step up and tow her up to Annapolis where she would receive the care and respect she is due.

  11. Larry says:

    I think that obnoxious political comments should be left out of this — please note that the Olympia has not been put into drydock for repair and renovation for 65 years, and that is hardly the fault of the present administration. That is why the ship is falling apart.

    If you want to blame anyone, blame the military — the Navy has, year after year, refused to part with the money to preserve this historic ship.

    So can we have ANYTHING in this country that is not tainted by partisan venom?

    • Well Larry it stems from this administrations outright hostility toward our military. With a BILLION dollar stimulus plan you would think saving this irreplaceable part of our nations history and vital tourist attraction would be a no brainer as this seems like a “shovel ready” project.

  12. Hoodoo says:

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation has just (MAY 2011) set up a national donation website for temporary and permanent repairs directly for the Olympia at (not quite as urgent appeal as I would like but what they are doing is absolutely needed):

    I have already donated so the link works. The Olympia is in her late 11th hour and needs help now. Please spread the word and this great ship will be saved. Although NTHP is providing the repository and will be spending the money directly for the Olympia, they cannot get out the word….it’s up to us, as private citizens to do it. The government is not going to help. This has to be an ALL-AMERICAN effort. Right now the Olympia needs 1.5 million for stabilizing repairs and about 10 million for more permanent repairs. If left as she is her life span is probably no more than two years.


  13. […] like me can never afford to enter? After that, we drove to Penn’s Landing to check out the rotting USS Olympia and take a gander at the Battleship New Jersey, which is moored at a real waterfront . . . in […]

  14. ed conway says:

    what does it take for the silly fed’s and navy to wake up , to save this historic old ship and preserve her for all to see in the future.
    the navy is wrong in it’s thinking for diver’s and it’s soo tight with money it stink’s,
    get national atten and fund’s to save her and get rid of the panny waste beuracrat’s that are no good and wont help with anything.
    the ship need to have the same kind of commitee that the SS United States has now.
    we need a individual like jerry lendfest to bridge the gap and stop the miindless junk from happening.
    I know with the proper people and planning they can get the olympia to be handed over to a preservation commitee and start to redo her as she need’s.
    dont depend on the silly city to do anything, they dont care, all they want is to waste money on new garbage they they dont need.

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