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CEO Update August 31, 2023

August 31, 2023


The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, from bracing for a potential hurricane to reshaping our capital campaign messaging. Yet our team remains unwavering in their dedication.

They’ve maintained the hull, hosted guests, repaired leaks, organized events, updated our tech, managed our finances, planned the annual crew party, sought out a conservator, aided veterans, inspired students, produced content, and supported our community.

Reflecting on the past month, I believe it might stand out as one of the most transformative periods in our organization’s history. This statement is a bold one, especially given the myriad phases we’ve experienced since our inception in late 2008.

Recently, I had the privilege of presenting the “5 Ws” (the who, what, when, where, why) of our organization and our future trajectory to our management team. By the end of that meeting, there was unanimous agreement to elevate our efforts, even if it meant navigating through discomfort.

Parallel to this step, we’ve sought feedback about consolidating our campaign branding under a single name instead of silo-ing the individual components. This initiative aims to unify the various components we’ve introduced over recent years including the National Museum of the Surface Navy, Battleship IOWA, and the Freedom of the Seas pavilion and park.

Through these feedback sessions, it became clear that our reach and impact weren’t always evident even to our closest allies. Many were unaware of the breadth of our involvement.

This realization has spurred a shift in how we communicate our mission. We are more than “just” a museum; we empower individuals through knowledge and foster social capital. Our influence has galvanized a community, educated millions, aided countless veterans, and so much more.

Battleship USS Iowa and USNS Mercy

Centenarian WWII veterans Lee Anstead and Lloyd Glick meet on IOWA’s fantail

All these milestones were achieved thanks to the generosity of our donors, supporters, and visitors. In 2012, with $5.5 million in donations—including $3.5 million from the State of Iowa and $2 million from private donors—we revitalized the Battleship IOWA, transitioning her from obscurity to a celebrated museum. This endeavor saw hundreds of volunteers donating innumerable hours, and each was impacted with unforgettable memories. 

Their contributions and the subsequent financial support have produced an annual economic impact of $11.4 million for the local community and established a top L.A. museum and community hub. The return on this investment has been tenfold, enabling us to amplify our reach to the public, veterans, and the younger generation.

Conveying this narrative hasn’t been without its challenges. However, we’ve always recognized that supporting our cause yields profound returns, be it in terms of human impact or mission-aligned revenue.  

Battleship USS Iowa and USNS Mercy

Over the next several weeks, we will venture down a course of articulating our mission and impact, as we become stronger.  We will continue to seek funding for our capital campaign including the National Museum of the Surface Navy, while also building the capacity of our team and structure to support the growth.  

I am excited about this newest evolution, and I invite you to accompany us on this transformative journey. Share your insights, feedback, and unwavering support.

Together, we’ve already transformed our lives and our organization. Now, let’s continue to shape the future.


Jonathan Williams
President & CEO

Save the date - further details coming and ticket sales opening soon!

Scuttlebutt Podcast | Season 2 Episode 13: Captain Dick McKenna, USS KIRK, and the Fall of Saigon

Picture it: April 1975. Saigon has fallen. Thousands are frantic to get out. They take to the roof of an apartment building and fly off in the largest helicopter evacuation in history. But where do they go?

At least 17 head out to sea and attempt to land aboard USS KIRK, the destroyer-escort where a young Dick McKenna is the executive officer.

In this podcast Dick shares his experience over those harrowing days in late April, and describes what it was like when “Operation Frequent Wind” suddenly transformed his ship into a temporary home for over 150 Vietnamese refugees and part of the rescue of over 30,000 people.

Find it here or wherever you get your podcasts:

• Spotify
• Apple
• Google
• Amazon
• Buzzsprout

Or head over to YouTube for the video version.

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

Thank you to our 2022 donors for their generosity and support. Want to know how your donations are making a difference? Check out our ANNUAL REPORT here.

From now until September 30, 2023, use the promo code NMSN23 and get an EXTRA 3 MONTHS added to your membership! Click below to learn more and join.

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Other photos - US Navy Archives and National Archives

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