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CEO Update – May 10, 2023

May 10, 2023


We are a couple of weeks out from Fleet Week and the kick-off of our summer season. We are also paying close attention to inflation and the potential effects on the tourism economy. 

We have seen a recent slowdown in attendance; whether this is due to the graduation season or discretionary spending is to be seen. I decided to write this note in bullet point format to provide more detailed information than usual. Hopefully it provides some insight.

  • In reviewing March financials, the group sales and education teams are standouts from the revenue generation side, having generated the most educational participants in our history in all categories including daytime STEM field trips and overnight programs.
  • Complimentary Iowa resident admissions are the strongest since 2019 and showing a rebound. Regular attendance hasn’t fully recovered yet. It is still down about 18% from 2019 and trending down the past few weeks in comparison to 2022.
  • Kudos to both security and events for tightly managing expenses and being under budget. A shout out to our Controller Nui Valletta for preparing and supporting the annual financial audit the past couple of months; this task is not a small undertaking.
  • Volunteer participation is flat in comparison to pandemic numbers and has yet to recover to 2019 participation.  
  • We were in discussions with the Iowa legislature for funding to assist with deck replacement and the House included it in their annual infrastructure bill. Unfortunately, the Senate didn’t include it and therefore our request for deck support didn’t pass in the 2023/2024 State of Iowa budget.
  • We have a diverse mix of departmental needs and focuses across the organization and unfortunately this results in a mixture of critical versus essential needs being filled.
  • We are seeking funding to support all of these diverse needs which include programmatic and capital:
    • Maintenance of the ship, which will rapidly become front and center with several challenges surfacing during the 2023 storm events. Our cofferdams were damaged from the shifting of the ship, our deck deterioration has accelerated, gangways broke, and fences were damaged. This doesn’t consider our need to repaint the ship in coming years. Support and donations for hull preservation are at their lowest level since we began the program. If you are passionate about the ship, please consider donating to the Operations and Maintenance restricted fund.
    • Education program funding. If you feel strongly about educating youth and our future generations, please consider donating to the Education restricted fund.
    • Veterans program funding. If you are passionate about supporting veterans with services and programs, please consider donating to the Veterans West restricted fund.
    • Community resiliency program funding. If you believe in strengthening our community’s ability to respond more quickly in the face of catastrophes, if you believe in using the ship as a platform to nurture our community, please donate to the Community restricted fund.
    • Information technology. If you support our push to lead the next generation in the use of technology and immersive experiences, please donate in-kind or funds to our Information Technology restricted fund.
    • Surface Navy Museum. If you consider it mandatory to preserve the legacy of all those who have served aboard ships and tell their stories to future generations, please donate to the Surface Navy Museum or contact our development department.
    • Separate and apart from these initiatives, we are always seeking both in-kind, cash, bequests, and assistance with all departments and initiatives, including volunteer and crew services, tour programs, security, events, infrastructure, accounting, advertising, marketing, and more.
  • On the Surface Navy Museum front, we are in experience design development and will be scheduling meetings and presentations with major supporters, partners, boards, and crew in June and July for review and input to finalize this phase.  We have initiated conversations with a major architecture firm providing a philanthropic discount to get budget numbers for the subsequent phases of the build.
  • We are still in discussions with the Port of Los Angeles on the relocation of the ship to the new West Harbor development approximately ½ mile from the ship.  The relocation would unify the tourism assets together, which would ultimately generate more interest and revenue in the San Pedro community.  This aligns in much the same way that the major waterfront destinations across our nation are designed, established, and thriving.  The questions come down to where the funds may come from.  We have requested a clearer answer by late 2023, so that we can begin the build on the pier side park and pavilion.

In closing, we look forward to welcoming you, your family, and friends to 2023 LA Fleet Week.  As always, let me know your thoughts and opinions.  Blessings for an incredible week.

Jonathan Williams
President & CEO


P.S. Did you catch COO Mike Getscher and VPAN-IOWA Manager Jess Mendoza on KTLA Morning News with our friend Gayle Anderson on Monday? Mike talked hull preservation and more; Jess chatted about veterans programs.

Click the photo below to check out Mike’s segment:

Scuttlebutt Podcast | Season 2 Episode 8: What’s It Like To Recommission A Battleship?

What’s it like to go aboard a ship that’s been closed up for nearly thirty years and help bring it back to life? Bob Lemmond and Marty Palmiere know.

They spent years preparing USS IOWA to rejoin the US Navy’s active roster in the early 1980s, and along with Scott Williamson, were there when then-Vice President George HW Bush recommissioned her. Prepare for some colorful characters telling some completely cool stories – including some unique perspectives of the shakedown cruise – in this week’s episode of Scuttlebutt!

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 2021 donors for their generosity and support. Want to know how your donations are making a difference? Check out our ANNUAL REPORT here.

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