Lacking funds, Olympia’s future may be underwater

    A historic ship docked in Philadelphia could be sunk off the coast of New Jersey if preservationists can’t come up with $10 million.

    A historic ship docked in Philadelphia could be sunk off the coast of New Jersey if preservationists can’t come up with $10 million. The U.S.S. Olympia served in the Spanish-American War in 1898 and is now an exhibit of the Independence Seaport Museum.

    Commodore George Dewey stood on the decks of the USS Olympia and gave his executive officer the command, “You may fire when ready, Gridley.” Soon after, America defeated Spain.

    But now that deck is in need of repairs to the tune of a three-and-a-half million dollars, another five-and-a-half million for the ailing hull, and millions more for general upkeep.

    The Independence Seaport Museum is actively seeking to transfer the ship to an appropriate caretaker. If none can be found, it be could sunk off the Jersey Shore to become an artificial reef.

    Harry Burkhardt, of the Friends of the Cruiser Olympia, blames the former president of the Museum, Jack Carter.

    “I mean, the president stole money and built a $300,000 carriage house on his property up in New England,” says Burkhardt. “And even though he’s in jail for 19 years, the Museum is never going to see that money back.”

    Burkhardt has only just begun the fundraising effort, hoping to reach 10 million by the end of the year.

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