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CEO Update March 15, 2021


This email begins with some good news after a little over a year of pandemic effects. We will be opening interior spaces beginning this week in a phased approach as LA County enters the red tier!

The team is looking at opening the wardroom, captain’s cabin, bridge, and main deck berthing aft during the weekdays  On the weekends, the aft museum will be added to the tour. Eventually we’ll include the comprehensive retail store. The reason for this variation is the need for power: we will continue to operate on reduced schedule during the weekdays, which will save thousands of dollars monthly.

One of the most exciting elements of the county moving into the next tier is our ability to offer the President’s Tour throughout the week and in the coming weeks, the popular Gun and Engineering tours on the weekend. We will continue with limited staffing and cost cuts until we are in a more stable financial environment. A year of pandemic has truly taken a toll on the team, but we remain cautiously optimistic on the rebound and growth path in the coming months and years.

While we are focused on the immediate reopening, we continue to plan and execute on both near and far term objectives. We continue to execute on our plans to open the National Museum of the Surface Navy on the 250th birthday of the U.S. Navy, while also efficiently operating each department on a daily basis. A special kudos to the team led by Joleen that submitted a major grant last week for the Freedom of the Seas Park and Pavilion, for which the opening would occur in 2025. We should hear by late summer if we will receive this grant.

Every department on board has streamlined the way they operate over the past year and I am proud of each of them for adapting to the circumstances. We will continue to grow our virtual initiatives while leveraging the benefits of the in-person experience. In the coming weeks and months, our efforts will continue to strengthen our efficiencies and reopen the neglected administration areas that have been shuttered since the beginning of the pandemic. We have already begun welcoming back both staff and volunteers aboard ship and we are excited to once again see everyone in person.

After almost nine years of being in Los Angeles, we have certainly accumulated numerous administration support items that have either failed on or no longer function. In the coming weeks we will continue to build on the work performed by the operations team to do a “spring cleaning” of sorts. As we do the spring cleaning, we will begin looking at our long-term space needs and strategically locate administration space for the benefit of the crew, guests, and growth.

Throughout this evolution, we will look towards supporting each team and their morale by improving work space, equipment, and interaction. Although this process is already beginning, we are planning for the eventual return of the staff to their full hours and/or salaries on board the ship. I hope you will consider supporting us during this time to help with this transition.

Of course, while all of this is happening we continue to meet with individuals and corporations to prepare proposals in support of both the National Museum of the Surface Navy capital campaign and the Freedom of the Seas Awards in October. As mentioned earlier, we are cautiously optimistic about the future and are incredibly thankful to have you as a supporter the past year.

In the next couple of weeks you will receive an email inviting you to participate in our annual hull preservation campaign. This campaign is incredibly important to the long-term preservation of the IOWA and ultimately the museum. A few years back, this important work began with support from the citizens of the State of Iowa and it is now our duty to continue it.

In very basic terms, we are seeking enough donations to fund two full-time maintenance people plus the necessary supplies to continue work throughout the year on the wind and waterline. We have two cofferdams that allow us safe and clean access to the area to repair the damage and corrosion caused by the ocean elements. Additionally, these maintenance specialists will work with our cathodic protection vendor and our dive contractor to maintain a vigilant watch on the condition of the underwater hull. If we see any deterioration, we engage a contractor to respond quickly and prevent it from becoming a bigger issue.

Why is this work important? The simplest way I can put it is that the hull is like your home’s foundation. If it deteriorates, then the home is gone. If you maintain it, you can end up with a home that lasts several hundred years. The hull preservation campaign goal will be $200,000 and we plan to run it through the middle of May. If you are interested in being one of the initial major donors with a match challenge or not, please let Joleen know at

In closing, thank you tremendously for your support.  We look forward to seeing you on deck in the coming weeks!

Jonathan Williams
President and CEO


In Loving Memory: Bosun “Pat” Patnaude

The Battleship IOWA family lost a beloved legend this week: Wilfred “Pat” Patnaude.

Pat was a beloved member of the 1980s crew and an important part of today’s museum. The stories of the crew from the 1980s run deep and the fear, yet respect of a tremendous man was mutually felt by all he touched. Boats became a friend of many of us at the museum today.

Unfortunately, I was unable to spend as much time as I would have liked with him over the past years. I first met Boats onboard IOWA in 2011, when we invited him to help us determine the best path forward for mooring the ship at the point where we were finally able to move her. The minute I saw him, I knew that this man was definitely a man of the sea. He spoke with a heavy Maine accent and an incredible mastery of the sailor language, which had undoubtedly been honed in his 30+ years of service. As we walked the decks together, the stories flowed as if it was yesterday. I was able to gain a vision of the ship’s service through a true icon in its history.

He returned to the mothball fleet with us as we prepared the movement of the ship in late 2011 and joined Mike and me on one of the famous ship raids. That day, he assisted with mooring line hunting and Joy plug ends, and we share a memory of cutting these off with a dull wood saw.

In one conversation, we were trying to figure out how to moor the IOWA without powered capstans throughout the ship and his response was simple: “Easy, with fifty sailors.” Of course, it wasn’t that easy with five middle-aged civilians, but nonetheless he was there to provide us the direction and support to moor the ship. We also learned of his service on the WABASH, which he was able to visit one last time that day.

He came visit us in Richmond numerous times, as he lived in Stockton with his wife prior to her passing. His wife was also a beloved IOWA Ombudsmen in the 1980s and she returned to see the ship during restoration. When they pulled up, I went down to meet both of them and I have to say without a doubt that they were a perfect match for each other. She definitely gave Pat a run for his money and it was a great time had by all!

After the ship arrived in L.A., he came to visit throughout the years and he was always delighted to see the progress. A small crew led by Stan “Mr. Wood” Sato restored his cabin to what it had looked like when Pat served on board in the 80s. Boats would tell us endless stories of service, sacrifice, and camaraderie, all in a mastery of sailor language. I would catch up with him a few times when I returned home to the Stockton area, where he enjoyed meeting at the Starbucks on Waterloo. I won’t tell you why, but I can reassure you that he had his reasons.

I am deeply saddened that we lost him last week. For me it was sudden, as I had no clue anything was wrong with this strong incredible man. I only wish I could have said my goodbyes and thank him one last time. I am certain that he has been reunited with his beloved wife in heaven. May they both rest in peace.

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