There is a saying that I have found to be true. Sort of the sea-going corollary to Murphy's Law: Rust never sleeps; water always wins.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The USS Olympia, a one-of-a-kind steel cruiser that returned home to a hero's welcome after a history-changing victory in the Spanish-American War, is a proud veteran fighting what may be its final battle.No one cares about history in tough economic times. The museum that owns the vessel doesn't have the 10 million bucks needed for a refit.
Time and tides are conspiring to condemn the weathered old warrior to a fate two wars failed to inflict. Without a major refurbishment to its aging steel skin, the Olympia either will sink at its moorings on the Delaware River, be sold for scrap, or be scuttled for an artificial reef just off Cape May, N.J., about 90 miles south.
Cruisers were the small sister of the battleship. Designed to travel a long distance and go on extended trips (cruises) independent of the fleet. (As opposed to ships of the line that would act in unison.) They were deemed outdated by the end of WWII.
The Olympia was built in 1892 in San Francisco, CA. Dry dock maintenance has been deferred since 1945. That adds up to a lot of work.
Two local nonprofits — Friends of the Cruiser Olympia and The Cruiser Olympia Historical Society — are striving to drum up money, manpower and publicity from other historic preservation groups, veterans organizations and corporate sponsors.It comes from a time between eras, as its design shows.
Its vertical reciprocating engines, refrigeration system and hydraulic steering previewed the technological advances to come; its vestigial sails and oak-paneled, parlor-like officers' quarters marked the passing Victorian era.The US Navy was still issuing boarding cutlasses in 1892, though their use was questionable by then.