USS Olympia staying put in Philadelphia

newsroom@islandpacket.comApril 2, 2014 

The USS Olympia, right, a National Historic Landmark, is in need of extensive repairs. The current owner is seeking a new home for the vessel, and a local group wants to bring it to the Port of Port Royal.

COURTESY OF INDEPENDENCE SEAPORT — null

The USS Olympia, which some had hoped to bring to Beaufort County, will be staying put in Pennsylvania.

The Olympia's current home, the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, announced Wednesday that it had discontinued efforts to relocate the ship. Instead the museum will launch a fundraising campaign to keep the historic ship in place.

Out of six organizations that applied in 2011, the S.C. Olympia Committee, based in Port Royal, and the Mare Island Historic Park Foundation of California, were the final two groups being considered to get the Olympia.

Both organizations failed to offer a "viable long-term solution" for the ship, according to a news release from the museum.

The Port Royal and California groups sought to repair and preserve the ship and to turn it into an educational resource.

The Olympia's hull has deteriorated after decades in the water, and the ship is in need of $10 million in repairs, according to the S.C. Olympia Committee.

About USS Olympia

Launched in San Francisco in 1892, the Olympia is the oldest steel warship afloat in the world.

Built in California using steel and arms from Pennsylvania, Olympia showcased some of the best technology available in the late 19th century.

Her electrical system, which Thomas Edison consulted on, is one of the first on a Navy ship.

Built during the transition from sail to steam, Olympia is the last warship fitted with sails, though her advanced engines placed her among the fastest ships of her day.

Olympia became famous as the American flagship at the 1898 Battle of Manila Bay, which marked the beginning the Spanish-American War. She served through World War I and brought home the body of the Unknown Soldier from France in 1921.

Decommissioned in 1922, Olympia was mothballed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

In the 1950s, Olympia was moved to Penn's Landing and opened as a museum. The organization that ran the ship as a museum was unable to maintain her and she fell into disrepair. In 1996, the Seaport Museum took over stewardship, keeping Olympia open to the public for the past 18 years.

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