Battleship USS Iowa Museum CEO Update

IOWA and Surface Navy Museum Family:

We have received word that the Governor has cancelled California’s COVID stay-at-home orders. This move is a positive step in the right direction, but I suspect Los Angeles will remain in the most restrictive tier for reopening. Covid-19 is still widespread in Los Angeles and I am incredibly proud of our crew for their efforts in maintaining a safe environment for guests and fellow crew members aboard Battleship IOWA.

We have been open under the restrictive outdoor exhibition protocol for the past three weeks and continue to experience severely reduced attendance compared to 2020. At this time in 2020, we had opened a guided gun tour, reformatted our engineering tour, and made dramatic improvements to the overall experience. For the first time in eight years, we had seen a significant impact in operations from attendance-based revenue. We continue to be incredibly thankful for you and all of our crew and supporters for helping us through the effects of this pandemic.

Over the past ten months, your support coupled with a significant restructuring in operations has allowed us to continue to be in existence today. We are grateful to be open and planning for the future. We have significantly reduced paid personnel, eliminated our ticketing and photo departments, reduced all expenses other than critical, and continue to focus on creating efficiencies with a focus on the future. The finance and development teams have pursued every known and available financing opportunity including PPP, grants, and are closely watching the SBA shuttered venue grant for a release date. Thankfully, our incredible volunteers have come out in force to assist in every department, while each of you provided the critical funding to keep us going. The past ten months have been challenging, but I want to reassure you that the future is bright.

battleship iowa arriving to port of la

The team has been attacking our future with persistence and bravery. There are several initiatives underway and unfortunately I am certain I will miss some. A few of the major initiatives underway include:

  • The technology team created a virtual tour experience that you can enjoy at home, work, school, etc. This experience is available via a self-guided online tour or even better, a virtual interactive session that will bring you to different parts of the ship. It is even customizable with the invention of a mobile “rig” that can bring a live stream right to the space on board.
  • The National Museum of the Surface Navy Plank Owner program is picking up steam and we will soon be integrating with Together We Served. This integration will include a Surface Navy Museum Roll of Honor and the ability to include your virtual flag box with your profile.  This feature is due to be rolled out in February and will be a fun element to use. Don’t forget to become a Plank Owner for free (and learn more about the museum). We have recently added new information on this website with museum plans, the story, budget, and other items.
  • We continue to have conversations with prospective major capital funders for the Surface Navy Museum. These efforts are exciting and I am honored to be associated with them.  I am certain that we will be releasing more information on some of the funders in the coming months. Stay tuned!
  • Mike Getscher and Joleen Deatherage hard at work on our plans for the Veterans Park / Liberty Point concept planned for pier side. An architect generously offered a conceptual plan for pro bono and they are working on a grant with the State of California to fund the project. This grant is due in March and we are currently reaching out to community groups to receive feedback on the plans. This new space will be an attractive addition!
  • The education team launched virtual sessions for students and has already booked several classrooms for virtual STEM activities. Over the next couple of months, we will expand availability of these programs to students in the state of Iowa and throughout the country.  Interested in learning more? Visit our education page or email groupsales@labattleship.com.
  • The veterans team (Veterans West) has created a comprehensive list of resources. They also helped a veteran over the past couple of weeks receive a computer, as well as shared some great information and job opportunities. You can follow Veterans West, the Battleship IOWA veterans department on Facebook.
  • This year marks the 50th anniversary of VADM Samuel L. Gravely, Jr.’s promotion to Rear Admiral. This date is significant in history, as he was the first African-American Admiral in the U.S. Navy. For the past several years, we have celebrated his life and accomplishments with the annual Gravely Experience during the month of February. The team led by board member Tanya Acker is working on the plans for the virtual event at the end of February.  We are thankful to Collier, Walsh, and Nakazawa for their continued sponsorship of this incredible event. Stay tuned for more information coming soon!

VADM Samuel Gravely

  • On February 1, 2021, we are thrilled to kick off our 2021 Silent Auction. There are quite a few great items on there and we hope that you will join us in supporting your museum with bids on some of these great opportunities. Click here to view the auction and share with your friends and family!
  • As we look towards the middle of 2021, the team has already began work on a public food and beverage opportunity, the Freedom of Seas awards, and LA Fleet Week.

There are a lot of fantastic things happening in 2021 and I am thankful for our amazing crew and supporters that make it happen.

Want to hear more?

Join us this Thursday at 5:00pm for a live (and lively) virtual chat with our Chairman of the Board, RADM Mike Shatynski and myself. We are looking forward to have radio personality Simon Conway join us as the host and I have no doubt that he will make it fun and entertaining! Register now!

All of this wouldn’t be possible without your generous support!  We are not out of this yet and we still need your help. Click here to see all of the options to donate – cash, in-kind, planned giving, vehicles, volunteer, etc.

Stay safe and see you on Thursday at the virtual chat!

Jonathan Williams
President and CEO

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