Port Royal, California groups to cooperate on preservation of USS Olympia

emoody@beaufortgazette.comApril 10, 2013 

The S.C. Olympia Committee, based in Port Royal, and the Mare Island Historic Park Foundation of California will cooperate on national fundraising to preserve the USS Olympia.

COURTESY OF INDEPENDENCE SEAPORT MUSEUM

The two groups vying to become caretakers of the historic battleship USS Olympia have agreed to cooperate for the long-term preservation of the ship.

The S.C. Olympia Committee, based in Port Royal, and the Mare Island Historic Park Foundation of California are the two remaining groups from a set of five cities and six organizations that applied two years ago to the Independence Seaport Museum to get the Olympia.

The Port Royal and California groups each seek to repair and preserve the ship and to turn it into an educational and historical resource for the nation.

"Both of us have submitted very interesting plans that would have the ship out of the water and preserve it so it would have a long-term legacy," said Pete Richards, president of the South Carolina group. "... People from all over the country will look at this as something really important."

The groups jointly filed for and received an extension this winter and are preparing for their final submissions and presentations in November, after which a decision will be made.

But regardless of which group is chosen, they will work together to raise money and awareness about the Olympia, according to a joint press release.

The ship needs about $10 million in repairs, according to the committee. The Olympia has not been dry-docked in 65 years, and its hull has deteriorated so much that the ship will sink in the next three years if not repaired, inspections have shown.

Launched in San Francisco in 1892, the Olympia was used by Commodore George Dewey to defeat a Spanish fleet in the Philippines in 1898 at the start of the Spanish-American War. It also served during World War I before it was decommissioned in 1922.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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