CEO Update for July 12, 2020

FDR Aboard IOWA in 1943

President Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard Battleship USS Iowa in 1943.

IOWA Family:

There is a lot on our mind this coming week.  First off, our thoughts go out to the sailors and freedom protectors aboard fellow Surface Navy ship USS Bonhomme Richard, which is currently on fire in San Diego.  US Navy sailors are some of the best at damage control and I am certain that they are giving it their all in fighting the fire.  We pray that everyone is safe and it is quickly extinguished!

The movie Greyhound was released on Friday and it is a story about the Battle of the Atlantic.  Early reviews are rating it quite well and I must highlight that this film is about the Surface Navy.  Our transition to the National Museum of the Surface Navy will highlight the important role of this community in international affairs, humanitarian assistance, and technological innovation.  You are now able to sign up to become a Surface Navy Museum Plank Owner at  If you are able, please consider a contribution towards this effort and the continued transition of the Battleship IOWA to the National Museum of the Surface Navy.

Your organization’s Board of Directors meets on Monday to discuss numerous items including our financial forecasts, Covid-19 impacts, National Museum strategy, and program impacts.  On Monday afternoon, our Veterans Program will receive a grant from Phillips 66 to continue making an impact in the veterans community.  The Education team continues working on programming including virtual field trips and webcasts.  We are blessed to have support from Marathon Petroleum, Crail-Johnson Foundation, and Norris Foundation for this important program.

There is no doubt that our organization has been tremendously impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.  As the economy reopened, we experienced increasing attendance.  The State of California and Los Angeles County scaled back the reopening about 10 days ago and we immediately experienced a drop in attendance again.  I believe that our daily attendance of both guests and volunteers is being impacted by a variety of challenges including local citizens heeding stay at home orders, tourism travel is virtually non-existent with large local attractions closed, the perception that museums are closed (although outdoor museums remain open), and the heat that we are currently experiencing.  We continue to invest in digital advertising and have seen an increase in online engagement.  My hopes are that we are building brand recognition during this period which will ultimately help with a quicker rebound when re openings scale back up.

All of us across the Nation have experienced an unprecedented impact due to this crisis.  We have lost loved ones, had jobs eliminated, education systems upended, operations restructured, and a wide range of life altering impacts.  We must remain confident that this is only a point in time and we will overcome this challenge as well.  Our lives will be different, organizations will change, and we will all become stronger because of this experience.  Each of us is strong in our own right and I have confidence in all of us to persevere.  As humans, we are designed to adapt and persevere.

During my daily exercise routine, I spend time thinking about these changes and how things will be different in the future.  Lately, I have been thinking about the fear that much of our Nation is living under today.  Immediately what rings in my mind is the Freedom from Fear, which is listed as a fundamental human right according to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  On January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it one of the Four Freedoms during his State of the Union address.

As a Nation, we must be smart while we continue to live our best life possible for the benefit of future generations.  We must manage risk and not live in fear, while cautiously moving forward with our lives.  When I state this, I must stress that cautiously is not attending the party such as the one I viewed in our area last night.  This virus is real and now is not the time to be hosting a party with a bounce house and 50 or more people in close proximity; this is simply not smart.  These types of decisions will continue to hurt the physical, mental, and economic well-being of each of us and will prolong our ability to rebuild what many of us have lost.

Each of us have a fundamental right to live our lives without fear, but in doing so we must also make smart decisions.  I take my role as a leader of our organization and crew as one of the most important responsibilities of my life.  I would rank this responsibility right below the well-being of my immediate family.  As leadership, we work hard to make smart decisions to ensure the well-being of our crew, guests, and community is at front and center of every policy and decision that is made.  Providing a safe environment will always be a core value of our organization and we won’t waiver from this commitment.  I state all of this to reassure you that your leadership team is not living in fear in any decision we make.  We refuse to live in fear, yet we will continue to focus on making smart decisions for the future of your ship and organization.

In closing, my hope is that each of you reading this message will find the ability to live without fear.  My thoughts will continue to be focused on making smart decisions and for you to live the best life you are able to.

Stay safe, thank you for your support, and hopefully you are able to reduce or eliminate fear from your life!

-Jonathan Williams, President and CEO

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