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CEO Update June 14, 2021

Family and Friends:

The past couple of weeks have been very busy with multiple projects in motion, the veterans program growing, and attendance increasing. On the visitation front, we are still experiencing a decrease in attendance, but are also seeing enthusiastic adoption of the more in-depth tour options including the Gun Tour, Engineering Tour, President’s Tour, and Guided Deck Tour. Many of these tours are led by our dedicated volunteer force, which contributes on average 65,000 hours per year. We are deeply grateful for their commitment and the culture that has been created and nurtured by the entire crew.

The shortage in construction materials is having an effect on the Vicky’s Dog House build. The team is on the hunt for an electrical panel and a few remaining kitchen items. We have reached out to our friends in the State of Iowa to see if we can source some of these items to continue the path to opening Vicky’s in July. There is a lot of excitement brewing around this food and beverage experience. Thank you to the Navy Supply Corps Foundation for seeing our vision, the operations team for taking on the task, Larry Olson for getting us over the permitting finish line, and Mike Getscher for leading the effort.

Concurrent with the Vicky’s Dog House build, the team is working on the space for the Veterans Resource Center. As I have mentioned in prior emails, we have ramped up our Veterans Pillar with the recent addition of eight personnel who are part of the Veterans Peer Access Network (VPAN) program. We are grateful to Janice Bowman (MVA Department) and Joleen Deatherage (Development) for leading this initiative for our organization. We are excited to see the impact the team will make in the coming months.

On Monday, our Education Department will be starting the first of several STEM Adventure Summer camps. The Education Department is led by Tiffany Ellerbeck and she has been doing an excellent job over the past several months planning fun and exciting programs, as well as reopening the Camp Battleship Overnight program. As we head into fall, we will be hosting both virtual and STEM oriented programs with a focus on maritime studies. Thank you to the entire education team of both staff and volunteers for being a part of the education program rebuild.

Your support of the Hull Preservation campaign will cover about 40% of the annual cost to maintain the IOWA’s hull. We are deeply appreciative for your support and plan to begin the work after completion of Vicky’s and the Veterans Resource Center. Our team will continue to search for grants, sponsors, and in-kind donors to close the gap so that we are able to maintain the hull year-round. This process is one of our most important maintenance activities, as recently highlighted by numerous articles on other museum ships.

On Saturday, we were a platform for an extensive multi-jurisdictional first responder training exercise. Towards the tail end of this week, we will be hosting another training exercise with first responders focused on search and rescue activities. We are proud to be a platform for these important training activities which ultimately strengthen the community. First responder and safety training is a core element of our Community Pillar and these efforts currently do not receive any funding. We are blessed to have a dedicated training and security team that coordinates and supports the training activities.

As we head into the last half of 2021, there are several activities on tap focused on the National Museum of the Surface Navy campaign. We will be hosting several receptions and events with a primary focus on discussions with donors and potential supporters of the museum. Over Labor Day weekend, we will be home to LA Fleet Week 2021 in affiliation with the US Navy, City and Port of Los Angeles, LA Fleet Week Foundation, and the USO. We are working with the Surface Navy Association to host the annual SNA awards in late October, followed by our first annual Freedom of the Seas Awards. Over the next couple of months, we are holding discussions with sponsors and supporters for both LA Fleet Week and the Freedom of the Seas Awards. If you are interested in supporting either or both, please reach out to Joleen at

We continue to be in a holding pattern for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant “SVOG” program.  Currently our applications are in the third tranche of those being reviewed, as the first two periods are reserved for venues that experienced a 90% and 70% reduction in revenue. The SVOG program was approved by Congress in late 2020 and recently the SBA began reviewing applications. We are hopeful that we will receive word on this important funding by late June, but it is appearing that it may push into subsequent months.

Thankfully, we continue to receive an outpouring of support from you, donors throughout the world, volunteers, corporations, and community organizations. This outpouring of love and support is making it possible for us to accelerate the Surface Navy Museum project, with the potential for major space refurbishment beginning late this year and possibly exhibit planning. Our deepest appreciation to the early supporters and donors of the National Museum of the Surface Navy at the Battleship IOWA and for believing in our programs that affect youth, veterans, community, and ultimately our nation.

My best wishes for an amazing and blessed week!

Jonathan Williams

President & CEO

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