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USS Olympia Restoration


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Wish the USS Oregon had survived but they are working on restoring the USS Olympia:

 

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/18554574.html

 

Posted on Sun, May. 4, 2008

 

Olympia project falls into place

 

Uplifting work for cruiser that changed history

 

By Walter F. Naedele

 

Inquirer Staff Writer

It wasn't an everyday sight.

 

A 4,000-pound, 10-foot-square shed, being raised off a barge by a 110-foot crane and, ever so gently, being set onto a historic ship at Penn's Landing.

 

Ever so gently, because it was swaying in a mild breeze.

 

Yesterday morning, the operation was another step in the piece-by-piece restoration of the 1892 cruiser Olympia.

 

That was the U.S. flagship during the 1898 Battle of Manila Bay, the first major engagement of the Spanish-American War.

 

The shed was a $75,000 replica of the original pilothouse, the small shelter from which the ship was controlled.

 

"We're looking to make this a showcase of what the entire ship did and could look like," said John Brady, boat-shop manager for the Independence Seaport Museum, caretaker of the Olympia.

 

The operation was a low-key affair, witnessed by an occasional jogger, a Sanko Line tanker moving upriver, and a cast of volunteers.

 

It involved a barge, a crane on that barge, a tug and launch moving that barge, and a bunch of folks doing the heavy lifting, all donating their services for the day.

 

"There has been nothing, in the 10 years that I've been at the museum, of this scale and complexity," said Jesse Lebovics, historic-ships manager for the museum, after the pilothouse had landed unscratched on a raised deck at the front of the Olympia.

 

Museum workers built the pilothouse last summer, and since then the museum had displayed it in the lobby.

 

At 9:40 a.m. yesterday, from a walkway behind the museum, there was liftoff.

 

The crane on the barge slowly raised an I-beam, from which hung straps forming an inverted V, wrapped around a steel sled on which the pilothouse sat.

 

Pilothouse settled onto barge. Tug towed barge through inlet, about half a city block. Crane lifted pilothouse onto Olympia. Sled settled onto deck at 10:48 a.m.

 

Piece of cake?

 

Maybe not the part when the crane lowered the structure toward the Olympia, coming within a foot or two of a mast and its lookout perch.

 

Eventually, the pilothouse must be secured and its contents arranged - the compass, the ship's wheel, and the mechanisms that spoke to the engine room.

 

To Brady, it was another satisfying step into the past.

 

"This is where [Commodore George] Dewey stood during the Battle of Manila."

 

The three volunteer firms were A.P. Construction Inc. of Blackwood, which contributed the crane and the barge; K-Sea Transportation Partners L.P. of East Brunswick, N.J., which contributed the tug and a companion launch; and Urban Engineers Inc. of Philadelphia, which, Lebovics said, "designed the lifting rig."

 

"If we had to hire their services," he said of the three firms, "it would have cost us thousands of dollars."

 

The ongoing restoration of what Lebovics called the forward bridge deck - including the pilothouse - is funded by $250,000 in grants and donations.

 

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 610-701-7614 or +wnaedele@phillynews.com.

 

Some pictures and captions from the article:

 

It's a delicate balance as a crane, above, moves the pilothouse from a barge to a safe landing, below. The Olympia, flagshipat the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898, has been getting a face-lift.

 

 

 

The ship's wheel - to be installed in a $75,000 replica of the original pilothouse on the Olympia - waits on deck at Penn's Landing.

 

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I drove by her several times when I was in Philly with some friends a couple of months ago but had no chance to stop and take a tour. I'm glad to see they're starting to take care of her as I've heard she is in sorry shape.

 

"You may fire when ready, Gridley!"

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I drove by her several times when I was in Philly with some friends a couple of months ago but had no chance to stop and take a tour. I'm glad to see they're starting to take care of her as I've heard she is in sorry shape.

 

"You may fire when ready, Gridley!"

 

The Olympia is in desperate need of some quality drydock time but the museum simply doesn't have the money.

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The Olympia is in desperate need of some quality drydock time but the museum simply doesn't have the money.

 

Heard that. Her hull plates have been eaten away from sitting in the silt for so long. Texas took up a collection to refinish THE BB Texas from all the little School Kiddies. Raised a enough to take her into drydock and replace all the rotted plates below the waterline. Olympia is in the same predicament but a longer period of neglect. She has a couple of pumps going full time to keep her afloat. <_< :sinking:

Edited by John_Ford
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Philly is, or at least was, a great city for ship lovers. You have the Olympia, and the USS New Jersey is right across the river on the NJ side (whatever ghetto town that happens to be). The SS United States was tied up and a wharf, but not open for tours. Impressive nonetheless. Lastly, the Philly navay yard was awesome, with lots of old ships from WWII era cruisers to Spruances and Perrys. Sadly, many of these (Des Moines, Iwo Jima, USS America, etc...) have been scrapped or sunk.

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Philly is, or at least was, a great city for ship lovers. You have the Olympia, and the USS New Jersey is right across the river on the NJ side (whatever ghetto town that happens to be). The SS United States was tied up and a wharf, but not open for tours. Impressive nonetheless. Lastly, the Philly navay yard was awesome, with lots of old ships from WWII era cruisers to Spruances and Perrys. Sadly, many of these (Des Moines, Iwo Jima, USS America, etc...) have been scrapped or sunk.

 

 

I believe the New Jersey is in Camden. If you want to look at any of the decomissioned ships in Philly, you had better hurry. A lot of them are going to be sunk or scrapped soon, I saw an article in Navy Times awhile back saying the Navy is trying to clear out the shipyard.

 

Scott

Edited by ScottyB
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About time they started fixing her.

 

I toured her in 1994; my girlfriend was from Cherry Hill (yes, I've heard all the Cherry Hill girl and Jersey girl jokes, and yes, they're all true) and she was taking me down to see Constitution Hall etc. She lived to regret this, as we walked by Penn Landing and I saw..."A SHIP FROM THE GREAT WHITE FLEET? HERE? YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!" There was no possible way she was going to talk me out of going aboard.

 

A volunteer on the ship said that she couldn't even get her hull scraped and repainted because the greenies wouldn't allow it. :angry:

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My ship, the Charleston, is sitting in Philly I believe......

If you mean the LKA-113, she has had at least one activation period for the Iraq war & occupation: USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and USNS Charleston in early June 04 loaded equipt of 24th MEU and personnel began airlift to Kuwait on 26 June. I would guess those two last LKAs remain very valuable [last of the breakbulks of USN] and probably remain in the RRF for MSC.

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If you mean the LKA-113, she has had at least one activation period for the Iraq war & occupation: USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and USNS Charleston in early June 04 loaded equipt of 24th MEU and personnel began airlift to Kuwait on 26 June. I would guess those two last LKAs remain very valuable [last of the breakbulks of USN] and probably remain in the RRF for MSC.

 

Wow, if you know any other resources on her, let me know?

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The Philly yard was fascinating. I know the last time I visited the Des Moines, an Iwo Jima, the America, and a slew of Spruances, Kidds, Perrys, Adams, and Leahy/Belknap class were just sitting around rusting There was also a bunch of LSTs and big support ships mothballed. Some were in good condition, many were way beyond any recovery.

 

Of the all, the Des Moines was the most impressive. As big as a WW-I battleship (like the Texas) she just looked spectacular, even in her peeling paint. Its one of those things you wish they had dragged aground at your school to use as a playground when you were a kid. It was just a great looking ship.

 

Olympia is actually a smallish ship. While beamy, she really is not much longer than a Perry. I guess if you moored two Perrys side by side you would have the approximate size.

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Heard that. Her hull plates have been eaten away from sitting in the silt for so long. Texas took up a collection to refinish THE BB Texas from all the little School Kiddies. Raised a enough to take her into drydock and replace all the rotted plates below the waterline. Olympia is in the same predicament but a longer period of neglect. She has a couple of pumps going full time to keep her afloat. <_< :sinking:

 

And Texas' hull is now apparently in worse condition than it was before the repairs (it is believed that the repairs were a vital preventative that allowed her to survive in the water until now). Last I heard they were planning on permanently dry-berthing her due to the extent of the deterioration making her either economically unrepairable, or actually unrepairable.

 

--Garth

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I had a chance to see her in 1995 while on vacation in Philly. I thought it was pretty cool. I have a picture of myself standing next to one of the turrets. A nice piece of history.

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I had a chance to see her in 1995 while on vacation in Philly. I thought it was pretty cool. I have a picture of myself standing next to one of the turrets. A nice piece of history.

Sadly, I recall the turrets are not the originals but thin replicas; the real ones - as in the case of the entire USS Oregon (BB-3) - were sacrificed for the WWII scrap drive.

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Notes on the matreiel condition of some of the historic ships

 

http://hnsa.org/handbook/morss1.htm

 

Interesting article. I've seen Alabama and Drum (and drove past Lexington with disinterested relatives :angry:), and would love to see these other ships. I'm not familiar with some terms, though:

 

"Gas freeing"?

"Fleeting"?

"Sea chests"?

 

Any assistance would be appreciated. :)

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I'm not familiar with some terms, though:

 

1. "Gas freeing"?

2. "Fleeting"?

3. "Sea chests"?

1. Cleaning the fuel (or oil cargo) tanks of a ship until there isn't any residue left to generate hydrocarbon gas in the tank. You must certify the absence of any such gas before doing any (torch or arc-gouge) cutting, or welding, in the tank.

2. They mean painting the portions of the bottom which are resting on the keel blocks supporting the ship in a drydock, by placing blocks elsewhere then removing the original ones and painting where they covered (either switching around extra blocks, or as they described, floating the ship out of the dock, draining it, rearranging all the blocks, then putting the ship back in the dock). Fleeting also (and more often AFAIK) means when you tie together the barges in a multi-barge river tow.

3. A box made of plates on the inner side of the ship. The hull plating in way of this box has an opening (with grating) to let the sea in. The actual piping connections to the systems that use that sea water are to the box, not directly to the side of the ship, in such an arragement.

 

Re: Olympia's 8" guns and armored gun houses, those were removed ca. 1910, not sure when they were scrapped but had long been separated from the ship by WWII. She was re-armed with 10 then-modern 5"/51's, including one each where the 8" mounts had been, and with one casemate mount each side empty, during WWI. The fwd and aft ones were re-arranged in favor of the fake 8" mounts when converted to a museum in the '50's but the current casemated guns therefore while real are not the originals either.

 

Olympia is the only protected cruiser in existence anywhere, Averoff in Greece the only armored cruiser, Mikasa in Japan the only pre-dreadnought, Texas the only dreadnought (ie. pre-Washington treaty dreadnought). Those ships should all get higher priority in preservation than duplicates of basic types like North Carolina/Alabama/Massachusetts/Iowa's etc. And, any new memorials of duplicate types (cruisers, carriers etc) when Olympia isn't in top shape is basically a crime against history IMO, but there's lots of local ownership and political issues of course.

 

Joe

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Interesting article. I've seen Alabama and Drum (and drove past Lexington with disinterested relatives :angry:), and would love to see these other ships. I'm not familiar with some terms, though:

 

"Gas freeing"?

"Fleeting"?

"Sea chests"?

 

Any assistance would be appreciated. :)

 

 

A "sea chest" is any opening through the hull that can be closed, or opened if desired, to allow outside water in, as for cooling or to provide feed stock for the fresh water condensors, or to let water out, like removing ballast or dumping the water pumped up by the bilge pump. Oviously, even a waroking vessel in good repair must carefully manage any sea chests, or risk sinking. This problem is much more important, and difficult to do, with unmaintained relics being towed with just a skeleton crew on board.

 

"gas freeing" is roughly equivalent to "purging" - obviously, before welding repairs to any tankage can take place, enclosed spaces that may have explosive fumes must be rendered inert, else risk explosion. Even low-flashpoint fuesl like bunker oil have lighter components that vaporize over time, and biological processes can produce flammable or poisonous gases, both of which must be purged before internal work on the conpartment can progress.

 

Fleeting: Shifting the moving block of a tackle from one place of attachment to another place farther along. Moving a man, or men, from one area of work to area next to it.

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I think there is a Russian cruiser from around this era still preserved.

 

Another is the USS Texas. I think its the only WWI Dreadnought left (but in WWII configuration)

That's right, Aurora, the Russian ship, is also a protected cruiser, I forgot that. I think I mentioned Texas, only dreadnought (by which I mean pre Treaty ship), Averoff the only armored cruiser and Mikasa the only predreadnought. The latter is encased in concrete so should last indefinitely. It isn't really in Battle of Tsushima configuration because it was heavily damaged in an accidental magazine explosion later in 1905 and extensively rebuilt. It became a museum ship in the 1920's, though suffered some bomb damage in WWII and some accounts say the US occupation wanted the ship scrapped, it did fall into disuse as a museum but survived to be restored in the 1960's.

 

Anyway by type Olympia is almost unique in the world, and by era truly unique in the US, whereas a lot of other ship memorials are really pretty redundant in the big picture. IMHO there's a short sighted bias toward them because their veterans still happen to be alive, or in case of WWII BB's of course named for a big political entity, a state. 50 years from now it will be recognized I think as ridiculous if Olympia has been allowed to rot but there are still a bunch of redundant WWII and Cold War memorials (ships with sometimes pretty limited combat careers besides not representing anything unique in naval architecture terms) because the money was spread too thin.

 

Joe

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