Skip to comments.The USS Olympia, rusting symbol of America's age of empire
Posted on 11/30/2010 9:58:29 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
PHILADELPHIA - The USS Olympia, docked at the Independence Seaport Museum on the Delaware River since 1996, is no ordinary warship. Built for about $2.1 million and commissioned in 1893, the vessel's got Victorian-era ice machines. She's got engines the size of 7-Elevens. If they fail, she's got sails, too.
She's got a printing press, bathtubs, furnishings fit for a gentleman's parlor and a prototype of a water cooler called a "scuttlebutt" around which sailors gathered and talked. She's gorgeous - a priceless artifact of American history, dominating Penn's Landing.
But pricelessness comes with a price. To keep the Olympia afloat, the Seaport Museum needs $20 million, but it hasn't come up with the cash. After spending more than $5.5 million in the past 14 years on the ship's upkeep, appealing to federal agencies for help that isn't coming and weathering a $1.5 million embezzlement scandal that landed its former director in jail for 15 years, the museum announced in February that it can't afford further maintenance. Within three years, experts estimate, the Olympia will fall apart. If it isn't saved, it will be dismantled for scrap or sunk to build an artificial reef off Cape May, N.J.
And with it will go a symbol of America's age of empire. When the Olympia was built, the United States was redefining itself as a global power, taking on expensive, elective wars in ever-more-distant places. The Olympia was the first step toward an imperial navy, the first steel American warship designed to cross an ocean to antagonize an enemy. If, in 1893, it wasn't yet clear who that enemy would be, the Olympia's design flaunted the symbolism of luxury - and the luxury of symbolism....
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
It would be a bad omen, as I see it. I visited this ship some years ago, and I was quite affected by it as a living embodiment of a bygone age. They had brass foot plates on the spot where Commodore Dewey stood when he spoke the immortal words, "You may fire when ready, Gridley."
Well, this was the first I had ever heard of it! But I had heard of the Battle of Manila Bay.
How much money can the victory mosque(shithole) get from our gubmint(5 MILLION) and we cant save this ship?She has been around for a 100 years and they want to scrap it?America,your priorities are really screwed up.
Take it out of the water and put in in a climate controlled pavilion. That seems to be the good fate of all old ships that end up being preserved.
She has been around for a 100 years and they want to scrap it?America,your priorities are really screwed up.
234 yrs for the Constitution and it appears to be suffering the same fate...
I agree. Why do they need to either get the 20 Million or Scrap the Ship? Why not remove her from the Water? Why only the Two choices of destruction or current Funding? Especially as funding will not come.
Dear God, will we ever awaken from this nightmare?
The Constitution?, they scrapped that old thing years ago.
The U.S.S. Olympia ALSO transported the body of the first “Unknown Soldier” from the battlefields of WW1 back to the U.S.
THAT ALONE should save her.
But, as someone else noted, when you have a spoiled, egomanical, western hating Marxist Muslim in the White House, WHAT DO EXPECT done with our money? Certainly not rescue this - it represents a once proud and great nation. He would rather use taxdollars to generate economic equality and build mosques for fellow Muslim Maniacs.
She's over 5K-ton and almost 350' long. That would be one hell of a pavilion.
It would be great to restore her and sail her again, but I'm sure that would cost well in excess of $100M, just to make her seaworthy again. The $20M they're asking for probably only covers paint and limited minimal repair over a fairly short period of time.
Seaworthy? How about float-worthy? She hasn't moved in 50 years, from what I can gather.
I’d like to see more about the Victorian ice machines it had on board. I didn’t realize they had refrigeration back then.
She’s a beauty. Thanks for posting the photo!!
She should be preserved!!!
You no ask question! We Chinese need sclap metar to make automobirres you wirr buy in War-Mart, and amphibious randing claft to take back Taiwan! You no bird nothing! So you sell to us!!!
It was based on an absorption cycle instead of the compression cycle used with modern refrigerants. Ammonia was evaporated to provide the cooling, then absorbed by water and driven back into vapor by heating, then condensed and evaporated again. It was relatively inefficient, but was usually driven by waste heat from an industrial boiler, so a ship was a natural for it.
When they did some extensive maintenance to the Intrepid a few years ago, they had to tow her to the yard. She had been there (Manhattan Pier 86) I think around 25-years, about half the time as this one. Unfortunately, when they tried to move her she wouldn't budge because of the silt and mud that had built up over that period of time. It took over a month just to drudge enough material to allow her to actually float away.
That problem is probably exponential worse with the Olympia.
The Olympia is 5800 tons displacement compared to 33000 tons for the Intrepid, based on internet sources ... so less than 1/5 the size, basically. Also draft is 18 vs. 32 feet, AFAICT.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, but this old ship, while with an admittedly proud history, is NOT worth the cost to restore it.
If it is worth fixing, someone will pay to do so.
Our tax dollars should not be wasted to keep every old ship in museum condition.
Sometimes we need to spend tax money in a worthy cause. Not everything is about money-making. If we lose our tangible history, how will we know where we’ve been?
I agree that history is important, but maintaining that history need not include the upkeep/maintenance of a 100+ y/o ship. We know what she did; we have written records and pictures of her accomplishments.
The USS Constitution is one thing... the Olympia is somewhat different to me.
What price do we pay? Where do we draw the line? Sorry, but this Nation has better ways to spend 20 million dollars - and I am not JUST talking about this one ship. We waste BILLIONS a year on all manner of “historical” items/places. Sorry but the Civil War battlefield of Snakes Navel Junction just doesn’t rate as high with me as Interstate repairs of the budget for ICE.
It's hard to believe $20 million can't be found for this. I don't know anything about the organization, management, and sophistication of the Seaport Museum, but my guess is that the custodians are simply not up to the task. Civic culture plays a role as well. No major city with a competent government would dream of throwing away such an asset, but this is Philadelphia.
A white knight needs to step in. The cost is a small fraction of what will be spent on Superbowl advertising. It's doable, provided the locals are willing to play ball.
I agree that just sitting around and waiting for government to come to the rescue isn't the best solution. But still .... the Obamites just threw away over $800 billion in stimulus money, and a project like this couldn't make the cut? IMHO, something is wrong with the local culture and management team. It is unfortunately not uncommon for opportunities to be missed and treasures to be lost because of failures of leadership.
Of course, let’s keep spending billions on a Department of Energy that has worsened our dependence on foreign oil, approved no new refineries, turned down efforts to build nuclear plants, sides with environmentalt terrorists against wind an solar facilities, and just plain says “NO” to everything.
Of course, lets keep spending billions in a Department of Education that has taken our education system from first to 16th in the world and turns out functional illiterates.
Of course, let’s keep spending billions on TSA to search us unconstitutionally and for ICE who won’t deport illegals.
Sorry pal, but “those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.” George Satayana
There are any number of philanthropists and major corporations who could write a check for this, and that would do so if asked properly. Part of the problem, however, is that Philly has bungled its riverfront. It's a classic example of the destructiveness of the automobile uber alles imbecility that has contributed to the destruction of so many urban cores.
Philly historically was one of the world's great seaports. Why anyone, once upon a time, thought it would be smart to drive an interstate highway along the riverfront, sever the city from the river, and make the Seaport Museum difficult to access is beyond me ... but that's the way the carheads think. The Olympia could and should be a premier attraction in one of the most attractive and dynamic parts of the city. There are a lot of mistakes to be undone before that will be possible, but that should be the goal. In the meantime, who's got $20 million?
A bit long but worth watching:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRr2FltLwYI (Talks about early AC and refrigeration)
too many people on the dole instead of working and supporting things like this.
Anyone have a picture of this ship?
On Lake Michigan a 50-year old ferry almost got $14 million under the stimulus program. All because they need to clean up their act after getting caught dumping coal ash into the lake.
Their sob story was history and heritage and government overreach.
Fishing ships still use ammonia based refrigeration.
Built for about $2.1 million and commissioned in 1893, the vessel’s got Victorian-era ice machines. She’s got engines the size of 7-Elevens. If they fail, she’s got sails, too. She’s got a printing press, bathtubs, furnishings fit for a gentleman’s parlor and a prototype of a water cooler called a “scuttlebutt” around which sailors gathered and talked.
too many people on the dole instead of working and supporting things like this.
Ya know, I’ve pondered the thought— politicians are on the dole.
I read about poorly and flamboyantly spent money by the GOP— “meal expenses jumped from $306,000 to $599,000”
It seems most all of the candidates whine and beg for more and more money, there’s never enough.
John Conyers’ government-registered 2010 Cadillac Escalade, that his son was driving around. Why in the L do they need a Cadillac Escalade?! MSRP: $62,495
Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at age 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary.
I’ve wondered if we should quit sending money to candidates/GOP and give directly to things we appreciate.
Adopt an elderly person w/o a family, this ship (I like the Hunley)...anything but give to those turds that don’t represent us once they get that seat.
My attitude is for chit of late, I have almost have given up on this mess.
No. There is another
Cruiser Aurora. St Petersburg -
Thanks for that explanation. The 19th century was a great time for interesting inventions. The scale of things hadn’t gone nano yet so everything was very physical and had a great sculpural quality. Even electronic gizmos were interesting with their big coils and physical throw switches and stuff. I’ll bet one of these Victorian refrigeration systems would be fascinating to look at. Probably a total Rube Goldberg maze of tubing and valves and pressure meters — with lots of polished brass. It would be totally steam punk.
Thanks — I’ll check that out after work...
all these positions should be a compensatory salary and have them hold down a real job in the real world. they would then not pass such ridiculous laws they would have to live with.
Read about British colonials in the So. Pac islands using similar to make ice. Forget the name but would have been circa [very] early 1900s.
Ships are traditionally referred to as females.
Yes, but I was referring to the “got” versus “has.”
“It’s hard to believe $20 million can’t be found for this.”
Bill Gates probably has lost that much under his sofa cushions.
The big problem with Olympia is that she has to be maintained by Philadelphia union workers, which really jacks up the cost.
shes has just does not sound right.
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