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CEO Update 31 August 2022


Across the nation many of us are beginning the fall season as our children and grandchildren return to school. In Los Angeles the weather is at its hottest, and up until 2020 this week was the start of LA Fleet Week. The travel and recreation season is slowing, giving the crew an opportunity to focus on numerous initiatives to advance our mission and evolution into the National Museum of the Surface Navy at the Battleship IOWA.

For some of you, my regular drumbeat on our three pillars (education, veterans, and community) may be tiresome. These three pillars define our organization’s role as a community destination and are the core component of successful programming to date. As we evolve, we are focused on maximizing efficiencies and effectiveness to make the strongest possible impact on the community and nation. We continue to build on our successes, reduce or eliminate inefficient processes, and evolve our overall experience into the National Museum of the Surface Navy.

Developing our programs and strategy is a multi-faceted procedure, with numerous inputs of data and feedback. We analyze data to gain a better understanding of the needs of our community, the desire for immersive experiences, and awareness of our Surface Navy. Much of this data is publicly available. The following are a few tidbits of more recent information:

  • Trends:  Over the past two years, the Top 5 “museum” searches (in order) are “rich girls museum”, “selfie museum atlanta”, “museum of illusions orlando”, “museum of ice cream austin”, “japanese video bokeh museum”.  There is not a single military museum or historic site in the top 25.
  • An unnamed poll:  40% of Americans believe the Air Force has aircraft carriers.

It is fascinating to see how society is evolving and the role of a museum is morphing. Over the past three years, our way of life has changed, desires and needs are different, and the impact on museums, especially ships, has been greater than ever.

Today, our nation has a front row seat to the movement of the USS Texas to dry dock in Galveston, TX. The museum crew of the Texas has fought valiantly to save an iconic warship and after years of work and millions of dollars, they are entering drydock to begin the refurbishment of the ship and, symbolically, the beginning of an entirely new museum experience.

Ultimately the future of museum ships is of great concern, as our nation faces a shift in societal needs and demands. I recently read a quote in the Harvard Business Review that stated:

“The business environment undergoes a major shift every decade or two. Each one creates new business opportunities and requires changes in leadership approaches. There are clear signs that we’re amidst such a shift right now. Smart leaders will consider the implications—and prepare for them.”

When I reflect upon this article, I think of my own lifetime. I have seen the change from the phone in the kitchen to cell phone, dial up to broadband, roller skating rink to video games, the mall to social media, and the abundance of loved ones serving in the military is now less than 1% of our population. In many ways these changes are good, as they are reflective of innovation and a society that is seeing less conflict than in generations past. 

In determining our path forward, our decisions are not solely made based on data. We seek feedback from our crew, donor, and supporter base. Events that we host, email messages such as this one, and in-person conversations are opportunities for us to reach out and ask for your input. Conversations, coupled with data, forge our path forward in evolving for the future. We have heard the challenge clearly; we must think differently to remain relevant and sustainable for the future.

With your support, we set the course as a community destination representing our nation several years back. Your feedback, generosity, and patriotic commitment continue to provide the crew the motivation and guidance to make a greater impact on society. 

Our next evolution is the greatest yet and your support will be essential in order for us to develop and build the National Museum of the Surface Navy. Based on our conversations and progress thus far, there is no doubt that the new museum will be revolutionary and transformational. We deeply appreciate each of you who has chosen to join us on this journey.

If you are interested in learning more about how the ship museum industry is facing these challenges, you can register to attend – virtually or in-person) the annual Historic Naval Ships Association (HNSA) conference September 14 – 16. This year’s event is especially important, as one of the major themes focuses on long-term sustainability and hull preservation. 

Mike Getscher, our COO and an innovative leader in the HNSA fleet, is instrumentally involved in a hull preservation program including a presentation by experts from The Association of Materials Protection and Performance (AAMP). Three days of sessions will cover topics of different relevance to the ship museum industry.

Registration information for Historic Naval Ships Association conference can be found here. Virtual registration is $50.



Jonathan Williams
President & CEO



P.S. There are several ways you can support our organization, and they don’t all require a financial commitment.

  • Share our messages by forwarding these emails and sharing our social media posts. 
  • Provide us feedback in the comments section or email us by replying to this message. 
  • Encourage your friends to become a Plank Owner for free (and they receive a certificate for doing so).  
  • Learn a new skill or assist with your expertise by volunteering in one of our many departments.  
  • Make a planned giving pledge and become an exclusive member of our Legacy Society.  

Scuttlebutt Podcast | Episode 121

VJ Alcomindras is a battleship kid. He’s been working on Iowa Class BBs since he was 16.

He started as the youngest tour guide ever hired (at that point) by our sister ship, USS MISSOURI, joined Battleship IOWA in 2015, and was recently promoted to Guest Services Manager.

In this podcast we get to know him – from growing up on Oahu to college in California – and learn how he’s turned a part-time job that appealed to the WWII history-lover in him into a permanent career he loves.

We also get a preview of our new ESCAPE THE MOTHBALL FLEET tour, which, if we do say so ourselves, is pretty much a blast and you should come check it out.

Find it wherever you get podcasts and here:
• Spotify:
• Apple:
• Google:
• Amazon:
• Buzzsprout:

Or click below to access the YouTube version.

Save The Date

Vicky’s Doghouse Celebrates ONE YEAR

This week marks the ONE YEAR anniversary of Vicky’s Doghouse opening on our fantail Chef Cesar is planning some tasty treats for the occasion, so come celebrate with us!

NOTE: If you prefer not to donate electronically, please mail your check to:
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Other photos - US Navy Archives and National Archives

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