Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Centennial at the Grass Roots: Operation Olympia

Mare Island Historic Park Foundation Kicks Off Operation OLYMPIA, Vallejo, California 

The Mare Island Historic Park Foundation (MIHPF) has kicked off Operation OLYMPIA in response to the ship’s distress call. Operation OLYMPIA is a crowdfunding campaign to address the acquisition costs for the fabled cruiser USS Olympia (C-6 OLYMPIA). The MIHPF intends to display the Olympia in Dry-Dock #1 at the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard (MINS), located just north of San Francisco where it was constructed in the 1890s at the Union Iron Works shipyard. Once there, she will join our existing Mare Island museum complex. The Olympia is the oldest surviving steel hulled warship in the world and is most famous for her role as Admiral Dewey’s flagship in defeating the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay at the outbreak of the Spanish American War in 1898. It was from Olympia’s decks that American sailors thrust the United States into our role as a world power.

Olympia was also a notable veteran of the First World War. She transported troops of the American Expeditionary Force to Northern Russia and brought home the body of the Unknown Soldier from France.

This campaign is being run on the Indiegogo platform. This is the platform that recently raised over $55K to send the Jamaican bobsled team to the Olympics.  The goal of our campaign is to raise the $300K to complete the planning required by the ownership interests to demonstrate that we are competent to acquire the ship. That planning will include studies by outside consulting firms to complete environmental planning studies, engineering studies on hull integrity, docking arrangements, tow plans, and more.  The campaign web site may be viewed at

Source:  Project Press Release


  1. The Olympia was a protected cruiser. The battle cruiser type originated with the Royal Navy's Invincible class in !906-8.

  2. This is a great campaign. Let me add for Bay Area locals and visitors that Mare Island is definitely worth a visit at any time for its museum, chapel with Tiffany windows, massive drydocks, military cemetery, naval ammunition depot, mansions, nature, and views of San Francisco bay, among many other reasons. Check here: for general info and here for ammunition depot and nature:

  3. Not sure how Mare Island got the type so wrong: the only American battlecrusiers launched or operational were Alaska and Guam in 1944.

  4. Alaska and Guam were never classified as battlecruisers. The navy called them Large Cruisers. I would hope the author of this webpage would correct this.

  5. Yes they were CBs, large crusiers, but they were designed originally to deal expressly with the German Navy battlecruisers, Scharnhorst and Geneisenau, or other large cruisers. They were called cruiser-killers in some schools of thought. The 12-inch guns were meant to out class the 11-inch guns of the German ships, and to be fast enough to catch them in a pursuit. The captain of the Alaska was critical of her defects and the discussion in Friedman's history of US Cruisers, pp. 287-309 is one of the better ones, in spite of the other criticisms of his work. J. A.Mowbray, Ph D