Olympia (C-6/CA-15/CL-15/IX-40) is a protected cruiser that saw
service in the United States Navy from her commissioning in 1895
until 1922. This vessel became famous as the flagship of Commodore
George Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American
War in 1898. The ship was decommissioned after returning to the U.S.
in 1899, but was returned to active service in 1902.
She served until World War I as a training ship for naval cadets and
as a floating barracks in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1917, she
was mobilized again for war service, patrolling the American coast
and escorting transport ships.
Following the end of World War I, Olympia participated in the 1919
Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, and conducted cruises
in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas to promote peace in the
unstable Balkan countries. In 1921, the ship carried the remains of
World War I's Unknown Soldier from France to Washington, DC, where
his body was interred in Arlington National Cemetery. Olympia was
decommissioned for the last time in December 1922 and placed in
In 1957, the U.S. Navy ceded title to the Cruiser Olympia
Association, which restored the ship to her 1898 configuration.
Since then, Olympia has been a museum ship in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, and is now part of the Independence Seaport Museum.
Olympia is the oldest steel US warship still afloat. However, the
Museum has been unable to fund essential maintenance for the old
ship, and attempts to secure outside funding have failed. Therefore the current steward, under direction of the US
Navy has put the ship up for availability to new stewards. It will
take an estimated ten million dollars to put Olympia in a stable
Olympia was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
As of 2012, Olympia's future was uncertain; repairs are desperately
needed to keep the ship afloat. Four entities from San Francisco,
California, Beaufort, South Carolina, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
and Washington, DC, are vying to be a new steward, but it is a race
against time due to the waterline deterioration of the hull. As the
current entities are in competition for the ship, no significant
repairs have been made, although the current steward has done some
minor repairs. In reaction to this gap in coverage, the National
Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) has set up a fund repository
which, if funds are raised, will be directly applied to immediate
repairs of the vessel with the cooperation of the current steward.
At the present time, March 2012, the NTHP is considering a triple
application by the Naval Historical Foundation, the Historic Naval
Ships Association, and the National Maritime Association to have
Olympia placed on the NTHP's list of the eleven most endangered
"places". The steward applicants from San Francisco (Mare Island),
and Beaufort, S.C., have endorsed the application. Despite these
positive steps, Olympia is in critical danger due to the lack of