CEO Update 3 August 2022

Friends and Family:

I returned to the Battleship IOWA after a week away. I traveled up the coast to Astoria, Oregon while enjoying time with the family. We hooked up the travel trailer and took highway 101 through Northern California and the coast of Oregon.

Once we arrived in the Astoria area, we explored numerous sites including Fort Stevens, Columbia River Gorge, Lewis and Clark points of interest, and Cape Disappointment. At Fort Stevens, we learned about the attack by a Japanese submarine off the coast of Oregon during WWII.

On Friday, we paid a visit to view the historic Tourist II ferry boat in Astoria, which capsized on Thursday at its moorings. It was saddening to see yet another historic ship sink. This incident further underscores the challenges our museum ship fleet faces.

100 year-old ferry TOURIST II capsized in Astoria, Oregon

These concerns are ramping up conversations with the Historic Naval Ships Association, and a large portion of this year’s conference will be focused on addressing them. Corrosion of steel ships is far from a new discovery, but that is only part of the problem faced by our industry. Our nation is in the middle of a cultural shift in how it perceives museums – especially military museums.

I visited several sites during my recent trip that highlighted this shift. Beautifully restored properties hosted relatively few visitors compared to several years ago. 

I recently read an article on cultural institutions’ recovery and on average they are seeing approximately 70% of their pre-pandemic attendance. Addressing these issues with an ever-changing employment market, coupled with inflation will be a difficult task for our industry and ultimately our individual organizations. Whether we like it or not, industries and desires change, interests are competing more than ever, and our industry must adapt!

These challenges and changes are not new but have been of concern over the past several years for many of the front running organizations.  These are the issues that led us to become more than a WWII battleship museum and create a strategic direction and plan that establishes who we are today and will be in the future. 

It is essential to ensure that our organization remains relevant, ultimately supporting the longevity of the USS Iowa, with our board and crew leading the way. Ultimately, the Battleship IOWA is an iconic symbol of something much greater: the Surface Navy’s role in Freedom of the Seas in the past, now, and the future. 

Why does Freedom of the Seas matter? It matters to every single American (and I can argue for almost every person in the free world), as it is the free flow of trade and commerce moving our cars, electronics, food, etc. A simple blockade of American and many foreign ports could easily result in our nation starving physically and economically. We have seen recently how the Ukraine crisis affected our gas prices and the world’s wheat supply. Safe transit of goods is essential, and this mission is only one of the many essential reasons we, as a nation, must maintain a strong Surface Navy to remain vibrant.

Your support as a donor, volunteer, and advocate are essential to ensure that we remain vibrant and continue our expansion.  

Our expansion to the National Museum of the Surface Navy has and continues to take these challenges (and more) head on to form and execute our long-term vision. The team continues to grow and adapt; the board makes bold decisions for our future; and the leadership team finds innovative, efficient, and effective methods to execute. The team’s ability to self-reflect, listen, and adapt have led to our incredible success to date and our three pillars of programs focused on supporting veterans, youth education, and community resiliency.

Our in-person tour products provide a self-guided option for independent explorers; deep-dive opportunities such as the President’s, Gun, and Engineering tours for those looking for an immersive experience; Vicky the Dog kids’ scavenger hunt for our youngest explorers; and our new Escape the Ghost Fleet (the US Naval Reserve fleet is colloquially known as the mothball or ghost fleet) for those seeking an authentic, hands-on escape room / scavenger hunt experience.  

We are only now seeing the impacts of our strategic plans and decisions over the past ten years.  We planned and discussed what we are doing today as far back as 2011 – from paint to experiences, hull preservation to program pillars, culture to relevancy. Unfortunately, these changes take time and time is one of the few things we can’t replace.  

First to “Escape the Ghost Fleet:”
DeeAnna Stewart-Storie and her family – (L to R) Eric, Mark, and Tristan

Recently, Craig Post decided to retire from the Tour Manager role. We wish him our best in retirement, time to spend with his family, and look forward to seeing him again soon on the decks of the IOWA. 

We congratulate VJ Alcomindras for stepping into this role with passion and desire, as we get ready to publicly launch the Escape the Ghost Fleet tour (which has rave early reviews). 

We also bid farewell to Veterans West Manager Janice Bowman, as she is progressing in her long career assisting veterans. We are grateful for her contributions and passion over the past couple of years in standing up the Veterans West department. 

We currently have a few employment opportunities open including a Veterans Department Manager, VPAN Peer Housing Navigator, Tour Guide / Ticket Lead, and several part time support jobs. If you have interest in any of these positions and would enjoy working aboard the Battleship IOWA, please send your resume to for consideration.

Materials have arrived for our National Museum of the Surface Navy electrical infrastructure improvement project. These improvements are generously funded by the Ahmanson Foundation with support from Geveden Industrial (our long-time electrical contractor). 

On Monday, we announced we have selected Applied Minds to perform the phase one design for the National Museum of the Surface Navy. Led by Bran Ferren, formerly of Disney Imagineering, the creative and innovative team from Applied Minds will take the concept of museums to a new level, incorporating the historic Battleship USS IOWA as the platform for a unique, immersive experience. The team will be responsible for designing exhibits and experiences that educate visitors about the Surface Navy’s role in maintaining safe and open sea lanes to ensure that our nation remains strong economically.

In closing, thank you for your continued backing of our organization. The crew strives to give their best every single day in appreciation for your support, our veterans, and our nation.

Please let me know if I can ever be of assistance.

Jonathan Williams
President & CEO

P.S. Weather. It’s a much more fascinating subject than you might realize, especially when it’s discussed by an expert with a passion for it.
For this week’s podcast we sat down with NOAA’s Joe Sienkiewicz for a chat about how weather has affected Battleship IOWA historically and its current impacts.

Find it wherever you get podcasts and here:
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Or click below to access the YouTube version.

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