With the reopening continuing through the red tier, we were able to open the inside of the ship for tours for the first time in almost a year. The weekend was exciting for both crew and guests as a welcome relief from a year of challenges and uncertainties. As expected, our attendance was up significantly with the announcement of the museum’s opening, although it has yet to return to normal attendance for this time of year.
The most exciting part of the reopening is our ability to restart our Presidents Tour, Gun Tour, and Engineering Tour. These tours are exciting additions the crew loves to give and the visitor enjoys, as they venture into the heart of the ship and hear the fun and enlightening stories. The increase in attendance, our ability to restart add-on tours, and a major filming effort last week will definitely help close the gap in March’s financials.
The rebuild will be slow, as our gathering-based revenue such as events and overnights is still shuttered. We are able to host limited attendance overnights under specific health guidance, but I suspect full overnight capacity and events are still months away.
With the decrease in cases and the increase in vaccination efforts, we are happy to see numerous crew members returning to the ship for the first time in a year. Smiles are prevalent and the genuine excitement in seeing each other again is heartfelt and touching. I couldn’t be prouder of this crew for remaining diligent, focused, and safe over the past year. While we are far from claiming victory yet, the light at the end of the tunnel is near and we are incredibly thankful to have each of you as a supporter. We wouldn’t be here today without each and every one of you as part of the museum family.
On Monday, the board of directors will gather virtually for a quarterly board meeting. We will discuss numerous topics including financials, program updates (education, veterans, community), operations and technical, and our near-term and long-term strategy for growth to the National Museum of the Surface Navy. While we continued growing the past year, we were able to due to the commitment of donors, volunteers, and limited staff with tremendous focus and efficiency. I can say with certainty that the team is still energized and motivated, but the time is now to start planning for reinforcements. This discussion is a difficult one, as we still have numerous employees on reduced hours and pay – yet we are strategically looking at how to grow efficiently and quickly.
In the next couple of months, we will be searching for a Marketing and Development Specialist to become a dynamic member of the crew and family. This person will be critical in supporting our growth by managing the Surface Navy Museum Plank Owner program, working with supporters and donors, communicating important details of our happenings on social media and e-blasts, and supporting the efforts of the Surface Navy Museum capital campaign. Additionally, we will be searching for an ad agency that can help support our programs and may be willing to do some of the work pro bono. You are the first to hear both of these requests, so hopefully one or more of you may be interested and qualified to support.
To support our growth, we are officially changing Joleen Deatherage’s title to Vice President of Development & Marketing. For many months, if not the past couple of years, the line between development and marketing has been blurry and challenging. This blur has primarily been driven by me, as I handle the advertising placements and much of the website updating. It is important for the organization for me to begin turning over these responsibilities, so that I can spend more time with each of you. In very simple terms, your investment in time and treasure deserves my attention. Thank you for all that you do!
In closing, I want to give a shout out to the radio team. After years of efforts by a big group, and despite multiple difficulties, a multidisciplinary team has achieved a very significant and important step. The technical message they sent over last week stated:
“NE6PM completed the first RTTY QSO with Joe Fuller, WB6ENV, on Saturday February 27th using the ship’s legacy RTTY equipment.”
Thankfully the radio team recognizes that I don’t know what that means, but they always put a smile on my face when I walk through the message center and see their smiles. I reached out to a member of the team and asked him to let me know what this means in layman’s terms. They sent over the following and I have to say that it is definitely exciting to see what they accomplished!
“The first radio communication (incoming and outgoing) with our legacy teletype equipment was achieved on February 27, 2021. This is the first time this equipment has been operational since decommissioning in 1990.
“The communication occurred in the HAM (amateur radio) spectrum, and over 20 or so miles. It is a demonstrator, as we are not restricted to distance since we are now frequently communicating all over the planet with the legacy radio equipment.”
I am happy to be able to highlight this accomplishment by a team that has been supportive since the beginning, but receives relatively little public recognition. Bravo Zulu to the entire radio team!
I’d like to finish with a hearty thank you to you and our crew for sticking with us through the past year. Things are looking up and we look forward to rebuilding from here! Stay tuned for exciting updates and opportunities coming soon.
President and CEO