Facebook Groups, YouTube Videos and Media Coverage OH MY!
2010 has been a roller coaster year for maritime history preservation. The Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia has released an SOS for the condition of the historic US Navy cruiser U.S.S. Olympia. She has not been dry-docked in nearly 60 years. Her condition is deteriorating as her structural integrity has been compromised by decay. Without an infusion of funds, this jewel of the Great White Fleet will sink where she sits. The alternative: deliberate scuttling off the coast of New Jersey to encourage the growth of a coral reef or destruction by a scrap yard.
The S.S. United States Conservancy has been on the move throughout 2010 trying to gain donations toward purchasing the classic ocean liner S.S. United States. Genting International (operators of Norwegian Cruise Line) has listed this ship for sale, but has allowed the Conservancy the opportunity to bid on her purchase at a discount. They understand the importance of this ship in the annals of American maritime history. She still holds the speed record for transatlantic crossing by passenger ship.
Ambassador International, the current owners of the historic steamboat Delta Queen, have listed this legend for sale. After her last congressional exemption and presidential pardon expired in 2008, this legend of the American inland river system was parked as a hotel and restaurant on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga. Her fate is at the hands of the highest bidder, and there are many bidders. Will she return to river service? Will she remain in Chattanooga? Will she be historically compromised by renovation? Time will tell…there could be an announcement any day now.
The MV Kalakala in Washington State is one of very few streamlined riverboats left in the world. In 1935, she was the very first streamlined car ferry ever built. Her current owners have been planning to restore her for others to enjoy, but she was denied state funding for the sixth year in a row. Washington state is considering cancelling all state funded ferry operations in the near future due to the shaky US economy.
The riverboat Mississippi Queen was sold for scrap in 2009, but still languishes riverside. She is infested with mold from neglect and damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Now she awaits an undignified end. Will a similar fate befall her former running mate, American Queen? The world’s largest steamboat has been laid up in the mothball fleet at Beaumont, TX. There is still hope for her as she is being looked after by people who are interested in her future.
Now we have moved into a new year, and it is one that will mark the fates of many of these historic vessels. If you are a person who enjoys maritime history and hearing the stories of people sailing the rivers and oceans aboard some of the most famous ships and boats in the world, then please understand the importance of telling people about what might happen to our ambassadors of water-transport antiquity. Donating money is always nice, but an outspoken crowd full of interested people is a power that cannot be ignored. Spreading awareness of the possible outcome for each of these noteworthy specimens of historical importance is key to saving them. We must show that we care!
There are different ways of spreading awareness. I use my blog to relay gathered information to an interested group of people. There are videos on YouTube and elsewhere that are fantastic for telling the stories of our water-born legends. Sharing links to newspaper and magazine articles is a fantastic way to share the concern with others. I personally created a Facebook group called “Save Maritime History!” which focuses on the USS Olympia, SS United States and the steamboat Delta Queen. Any way to get public attention at what may happen to these important ships and boats could be instrumental to their salvation.
Examples of great ways to spread the word…
“Save Maritime History!” group on Facebook
Save the USS Olympia video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKtS_ru6IRo
“Save The Delta Queen” website http://www.save-the-delta-queen.org/
News Reel 1952: SS United States video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ckPyzinvdU
“Lenfest Awaits Ruling on Foxwoods Gaming License (S.S. United States)
Delta Queen in Nashville, TN video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FJTd4u3h4o&NR=1
Steamboats.org: A wonderful way to learn about the history of river steamboats in the US http://www.steamboats.org/index.php
The story of the very first art deco streamlined ferry MV Kalakala http://madmariner.com/blog/matt_smith/92103
Delta Queen’s Plea to Congress video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ss0tgXYSPc
Official website for becoming an SS United States ‘Plank Owner’ http://www.ssusplankowner.org/
The Battle of Manila Bay (USS Olympia stars!) video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r-Z1rtw_6s&feature=related
Update on the Status of the Cruiser Olympia http://www.phillyseaport.org/ships_olympia.shtml
A Cruise Aboard the SS United States video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5o8xlVhN4E
Official website for the MV Kalakala http://www.kalakala.org/
Legend of the SS United States video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_cYpS7XfuU&feature=fvst
IT IS TIME TO EDUCATE, RECRUIT, VOLUNTEER AND DONATE!
Together, we can SAVE MARITIME HISTORY!