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CEO Update October 12, 2021

Friends and Family:

I am returning to the ship this week with a full slate of activities planned. I closely followed the great work done by the crew last week in addressing several issues, especially the gangway partial detachment caused by the passing of a large cargo ship. The team sprang into action, focused to ensure that they dealt with the problem safely. 

This issue alone will result in an unbudgeted impact to the organization at a $10,000 minimum. Throughout the year, we experience different challenges related to weather, surge, and passing ships, and over the past forty-five days, we have had a mooring line break and this gangway issue resulting in over $25,000 in unexpected costs (not including the crew’s commitment and time). Your generous contributions help us address these surprises, especially during our slow period when school is in session.

IOWA C-Suite aboard USS CA

Over the next twelve days, most of the team will be focused on the upcoming Freedom of the Seas Awards event. Thank you to the crew, sponsors, and board members who have supported the inaugural Freedom of the Seas Awards. This national level event brings us closer to opening the National Museum of the Surface Navy in 2025 and we are thankful for your support of this endeavor.

We are in the final review of several Development Manager candidates and intend to extend an offer this week. The candidates that have “made the cut” are excited at the possibility of joining the team and looking forward to working with you going forward. As we continue into late 2021, they will focus on the annual campaign, Plank Owner activities, and learning the organization. I look forward to making the announcement of the finalist in my next message.

Last week we participated in a launch discussion with our new marketing agency to focus on growing various revenue sources. Revenue is critical in funding the costs necessary to keep the ship available as an education, veterans, and community platform. The costs to operate are significant, even though our paid staff is approximately half the size of equivalent organizations (thankfully due to our large volunteer crew).  We have numerous departments including operations & maintenance, information technology, accounting & finance, development, tour operations, security, veterans, education, volunteer services, food & beverage, administration, curatorial & museum, sales & marketing, events, radio, training, and more. The largest portion of our spend is focused on maintenance & operations, followed by program services. Your contributions fund approximately thirty-five percent of our annual budget, which covers maintenance and growth with earned revenues offsetting the remainder of the costs. Hopefully this breakdown provides some insight on how important your support truly is. If you are interested in contributing, you can do so online.

Vicky’s Doghouse is a great new addition to the organization. It offers a unique waterfront food and beverage experience, while also generating revenue from events and programs.

Last week, the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for Vicky’s Doghouse aboard the ship. We were thankful for those that attended and thank you to Cesar and the Vicky’s team for welcoming them onboard. It is a delightful experience that I look forward to enjoying on my first day back aboard. Please come enjoy Vicky’s and the Waterfront view. It is free to board the fantail to dine at Vicky’s.

Thank you to those of you that dropped us a note on the slight hiccup with our Plank Owner system. David Canfield immediately began working on the fix and I suspect it is either back operationally or will be shortly.

Don’t forget to sign up to be a Plank Owner and/or remember a loved one’s service. We want to make sure that we recognize as many veterans as we can!

Plank Owner Certificate

Internally, the rest of the senior team circulates weekly notes among the crew. They provide insight and details on the focuses of the various departments. Mike Getscher has been revisiting memories from ten years ago, when we were preparing the IOWA to depart the Suisun Bay mothball fleet. I rarely mention this subject in my message, despite it being an important part of our history. 

During this period ten years ago, we were preparing the ship to depart by ballasting freshwater tanks, negotiating the tow, and submitting the tow plans. We were also volunteering our time and self-funding hotels, meals, fuel, bathymetry, and other costs to get the IOWA ready to move. It was uncertain that the move was going to happen, and several people risked everything to bring it to fruition. This team persevered despite the challenges, and it was an honor to work with each of them. I am looking forward to working with several of them over the next four years as we build the National Museum of the Surface Navy.

In closing, thank you for believing in us and supporting the organization. Have an amazing and blessed week.

Jonathan Williams
President & CEO

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