Independence Seaport Museum floats sale of 119-year-old Navy ship

Independence Seaport Museum is looking for a good home for the USS Olympia, a naval vessel that dates to 1892.

Facing what would be $10 to $20 million in restoration costs, the museum says it cannot afford to repair the ship.

If a new owner cannot be found, the ship “will be scrapped or scuttled,” the Philadelphia museum said.

Even stabilizing the deteriorating ship would cost $2 to $5 million, the museum said.

The Olympia, which was Admiral George Dewey’s flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay, is the sole surviving ship from the Spanish-American War. It is a National Historic Landmark.

Since the museum acquired the Olympia in 1996, it has spent $5.5 million on restoration efforts.

On Monday, the museum posted an application on its site seeking a buyer. It will hold a summit for perspective buyers late this month and hopes to resolve the matter by Nov. 1, 2012.

The Independence Seaport Museum, which was founded in 1960, is based on Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. Its collection also includes the World War II submarine the Becuna.

While the recession has been a challenge for all museums, seaport museums face the costly challenge of maintaining vessels that are in the water and are, in effect, continually deteriorating.

Last month, the Seaport Museum in New York City furloughed 32 employees, or half its staff, the New York Times reported.

Article originally posted by Peter Van Allen on March 7th 2011 via Philadelphia Business Journal

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