March 8, 2011; Source: Bloomberg Business Week | A rusted warship is probably not on a lot of people's shopping lists, but the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia is looking for someone to take the USS Olympia off its hands. The National Historic Landmark, said to be the world's oldest steel warship still afloat, will end up on a scrap head or sent to the bottom of the ocean if a new owner isn't found.
To entice someone to take possession of the ship, whose last mission was to transport World War I's Unknown Soldier from France to the United States in 1921, the museum is holding a summit later this month for prospective owners. If all goes as a planned, transfer of the ship will be done by November 2012. But before that, any new owners – and only a state, city or nonprofit may apply – must have deep pockets. It's estimated that the ship needs $2 million to $5 million in immediate repairs and another $10 million, if not twice that amount, for dry dock and restoration.
So much work is necessary because the ship – which should have been drydocked every 20 years – has not been out of the water since 1945. The Olympia is so badly rusted that if something doesn't happen soon, caretakers fear that nature will decide its fate and the ship will likely sink on its own into the Delaware River, where it currently sits.—Bruce Trachtenberg