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Battleship IOWA Update of 05/04/20 – Reopening?

USS Iowa continues her fight!

Battleship IOWA has fought for our freedoms for over 75 years and continues today during the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic.

IOWA Family:

I am truly touched by the nationwide support we have received during this crisis from friends, family, and crew alike.   We continue to closely monitor California Reopening plans and as currently stated, it appears that we may not be able to open for months.  This kind of delay would result in a significant impact to our entire organization and frankly doesn’t take into account our ability to implement measures such as an outdoor park like location.  We take our responsibility seriously and unlike a brick and mortar building, we can’t simply “vacate” a floating battleship in the busiest port in the country and expect nothing to happen.

We immediately reached out to elected representatives to let them know that the “shoe doesn’t fit all museums”.  We wrote a point paper that discusses the challenges for all museums including ours and potential guidelines that may be considered to reopen.

As a primarily outdoor venue, we are in a unique position to be able to open with adjustments and changes to our current tour product.  Within days of shutdown, we assembled a task force to address our eventual reopening and take into consideration issues that have to be addressed for the foreseeable future.  We have remained focused on reopening on June 1st, 2020 under a drastically modified outdoor tour product with a focus on social distancing, temperature checks, disinfecting, timed product offerings, and increased cost to limit attendance.  We believe that this product is likely safer than a visit to a local beach, park, or grocery store and hope local authorities will agree with us.  If we are unable to open by June 30th, 2020 or receive significant financial support, we will need to take extreme measures to prepare for a longer term shutdown.

Since 2012, our non-profit organization has been primarily funded through earned revenue including visitor admissions, overnight programs, retail, and events.  During normal operating conditions, museums are encouraged to diversify their revenue mix to earned revenue to reduce reliance on public funding.  In the Battleship IOWA Museum’s case, we successfully accomplished this goal and have never received government funding from within California to cover operations or maintenance.  Unfortunately, due to this pandemic our revenue has been reduced by a stunning 79% since our closure on March 13th, 2020, with a projected revenue short-fall of approximately $3.8 million by summer of 2021 (estimated vaccine date), if we have to remain shut-down.  If we are able to open as an outdoor venue, we will reduce this short-fall tremendously but will still need contributions to continue sustaining the operation at pre-Covid-19 levels.

As mentioned in prior communications, we take our obligation to our community seriously and we immediately sprang into action to reduce all non-critical expenses and find creative solutions to the evolving Covid-19 crisis.

  • We furloughed public-facing staff, applied for the EDD Work share program, and reduced Executive pay.
  • We eliminated 95% of our power usage by shutting off all non-critical power consumption. Critical power consumption is focused on fire and life safety systems, cathodic protection, and our technology core.
  • We applied for SBA EIDL and PPP loans, contacted our bank for assistance, reached out to donors, and froze all non-critical payments.
  • We adapted our education, veterans, and community social programming to become virtual, required all remaining desk based staff to work from home, and limited access of the ship to the majority of the crew.

I can’t stress how important your support and contributions are during this once in a lifetime 100-year storm!  Even if we are able to reopen in June, we will still require your support to ensure that we are able to continue maintaining the ship and offering our programming into the future.  If we are unable to reopen and/or raise sufficient funding to carry us until 2021, the effect will include the loss of economic development to a disadvantage community, cancellation of critical education and veterans programming, elimination of first responder training programs, reduced or stoppage of maintenance work, and ultimately a possible floating hazard to the largest Port and economic complex in the country.

The time is now to not only save the Battleship IOWA, but also other important museums that have been affected by what we call in the maritime industry a “100-year storm” – the Covid-19 crisis.

How you can help?

  • Reach out to your local elected officials (local, state, and federal) and let them know how important your cultural museums are and encourage them to consider policies to address reopening plans for organizations that are able to adjust, in addition to providing economic relief to ensure we don’t lose important cultural treasures.
  • If able, consider a significant financial investment to the Battleship IOWA or a museum of your choice to ensure that they are able to continue their programs into the future. In the case of the Battleship IOWA Museum, your contributions will help support our continued programs in education, veterans, community, and our transition to the National Museum of the Surface Navy in the future.  You can donate only at or reach out to Joleen Deatherage, Vice President of Development to discuss all of the available options to support the ship.

Like many of us, I realize that you may also be personally impacted by this pandemic.  We ask that you consider a significant financial contribution, only if you are able to.  Please do not put your livelihood or safety at risk to contribute and know that no matter what may happen, you remain an important part of the IOWA story.

Please be safe and thank you for being part of the IOWA Family!

Jonathan Williams
President & CEO
Battleship IOWA Museum  |  National Museum of the Surface Navy

P.S.  We have numerous contribution programs available including pledges, one-time contribution, monthly giving, stock gifts, planned giving, and others.  Please feel free to reach out to Joleen Deatherage, Vice President of Development to discuss these options and others at 877-446-9261 ext. 747 or

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