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CEO Update 21 December 2021

Remembering Our Forgotten Heroes

Honor the stories of our forgotten sailors who fought for Freedom of the Seas. Donate to the National Museum of the Surface Navy before the end of the year to ensure work can begin in January and keep our timeline on course. This year only, a IRS special rule helps most people get a deduction of up to $600 for gifts to charity. Read more about how your support of the Surface Navy Museum may qualify here.

Update from CEO Jonathan Williams

This week we take the opportunity to spend time with those that we cherish most. We also take this week to reflect on 2021 and prepare for the New Year.

As we look back over the past 21 months, we are thankful for all that we have and remember those we lost or who are facing challenges. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers to our supporters who have lost friends and loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic and for those of you who will be unable to spend time with family this holiday.

Last week, we hosted our annual board meeting aboard to discuss our accomplishments this past year and our plans for next year. Following this meeting, we had an opportunity to tour several board members through the museum to experience firsthand the excellent work that our crew is performing daily.

On Tuesday, the staff management team gathered for a briefing regarding 2022 and all were present to hear about our plans on tap. This group is the core team responsible for relaying our 2022 plans and goals to the rest of the staff and the tremendous volunteer crew.

As a side note, I am most proud that our volunteer crew outnumbers our paid staff on a 9 to 1 ratio. Our volunteer hours have increased over the past couple of years, despite the risk and challenges during the pandemic. Some of these individuals are full time volunteers and even act in a supervisory role! Bravo Zulu to the volunteer team and their leadership for continuing to push forth.

After hearing our accomplishments and plans for the future, a generous anonymous donor made a $1,000,000 pledge to be paid over 10 years! Your support, along with theirs, is making it possible for us to accelerate our growth plans in 2022 by initiating the demolition work and design process for the Surface Navy Museum. Additionally, we will be addressing several resource-delayed projects in the coming years. 

We hope that you have an opportunity to join us this coming Wednesday, December 22nd at 11:00am pacific time to learn what we have in store for 2022. To register for this free virtual event, please click the button below.

Please contribute to our 2021 annual campaign and receive special gifts depending on the level of your support  Click here to contribute!

  • $25 – Receive a National Museum of the Surface Navy Museum sticker
  • $50 – Receive a National Museum of the Surface Navy challenge coin
  • $250 – Receive a National Museum of the Surface Navy hat
  • $500+ Receive each of the items above

Please be sure to include your mailing address when you donate. Feel free to contact us at with any questions.

Last week, we were alerted that the language designating our organization as the National Museum of Surface Navy made it into the final National Defense Authorization Act. This bill is now headed to the president’s desk to be signed into law. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership of Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragan and Senator Diane Feinstein, as well as the generous support of several co-sponsors including Sen. Padilla (CA), Sen. Ernst (IA), Rep. Brownley (CA), Rep. Chu (CA), Rep. Schiff (CA), Rep. Napolitano (CA), Rep. Lowenthal (CA), Rep. Sanchez (CA), and Rep. Miller-Meeks (IA). This designation, coupled with the already-executed trademark licensing agreement from the U.S. Navy, will only accelerate our plans to build the museum that honors U.S. Surface Navy sailors from 1775 to the present and beyond.

The story of the Surface Navy is important to the future of our country. It touches each of us in our daily lives.

Many of us are aware of the supply chain issues that we are currently experiencing as a nation, with much of the attention surrounding that challenge focused on the Port of Los Angeles. The Battleship IOWA is located in the middle of the port complex and therefore we have a front row seat to the movement of cargo. 

When I look at this cargo, all of which made it to our ports safely, I think about the Surface Navy and Coast Guard personnel, out ensuring that cargo ships (even cruise ships) can transit the seas safely. Ensuring safe transit is important, especially since ships haul 90% of commerce and undersea cables transport 99% of international data. Can you imagine what would happen to our economy and country if we were unable to safely move cargo or communicate with the international community? It would be debilitating to our nation, the world, and our collective future. Educating the public on the importance of the United States as a maritime power and the Surface Navy’s role in maintaining the freedom of the seas is one of the main reasons National Museum of the Surface must be built.

In January, we will be traveling to the D.C. area to attend the annual Surface Navy Association (SNA) conference and visit with several supporters. Our affiliation with SNA has been tremendous and we are deeply thankful for their support in building the museum. While there, we will have the opportunity to visit with several donors who are committed to both the Battleship IOWA and the National Museum of the Surface Navy. They appreciate the tremendous work that our crew performs in educating future generations, assisting veterans, and being a community platform for many different programs. We appreciate them for their support and advocacy on behalf of our organization and museum.

As we progress into 2022, we have several events and activities in store including a couple of visits across the nation. Our large-scale events will be LA Fleet Week over Memorial Day, Freedom of the Seas Awards, and Veterans Day. Throughout the year we will have several hybrid and virtual programs and memorials that we hope you enjoy.

To USS Iowa veterans and families… We will be hosting the annual April 19th memorial program on board as we did during the pandemic. Our doors are always open to each of you and we will never forget! This anniversary will not be canceled.

Planning these events is no small undertaking for our crew. In some cases, several staff members and volunteers are involved in the strategy and logistics for each event. This tally doesn’t take into consideration the private events that rent space aboard the ship for anything from retirements to weddings and everything in between. 

A couple of weeks ago we welcomed Francesca Allison as our new Events Manager. She hit the ground running with several events her first and second week which kept her busy into the evening. Thankfully the team was in full response to help, which highlights the camaraderie and family-like environment aboard IOWA. Thank you to the entire crew for your commitment, dedication, and generous support!

As I close out this message, I hope you have an opportunity to join our virtual 2022 update this Wednesday at 11:00am pacific.  Please register in advance using this link.

Happy holidays and happy New Year to you and your family. Thank you for joining us on this incredible journey as we begin to design and build the National Museum of the Surface Navy aboard Battleship IOWA.

Your friend,
Jonathan Williams
President & CEO

P.S. For those of you that are following my health journey, I am now down to 211 lbs. this past weekend. I have 6 lbs. to go, and my goal is to hit it by February! Thank you for your support and messages of encouragement. I enjoy learning about how each of you is taking on your personal challenges, so feel free to email me anytime with your update.

Become A Plank Owner Today

Be a part of all the incredible things happening at Battleship IOWA and get in on our transition to become the National Museum of the Surface Navy from the beginning. Register to become a Plank Owner, and at the same time, memorialize your service or a loved one’s.

National Museum of the Surface Navy Plank Owner certificate

As a Plank Owner, you receive special benefits – including perks in our points system (details coming soon), and recognition on our Plank Owner listing.

Sign up today. It’s free!

NOTE: If you prefer not to donate electronically, please mail your check to:
Attention: Development Department, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90731
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