Written by Frank Unreasoning
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Saturday, 28 April 2012

image for Battleship 'Iowa' Becomes Museum: what are the possibilities? A battleship

In the long tradition of ship museums the US battleship Iowa is to become a museum in Los Angeles.

The UK has many warship museums (HMS Victory, the Mary Rose, HMS Warrior and HMS Belfast). The USA has a growing number as well. The latest is the Iowa; which, although even older than me, was still an operating warship until relatively recently. Thus controversy has inevitably followed the decision to turn it into a museum in Los Angeles harbour. Protestors have argued that, "a peace-loving city was no place for a battleship."

This begs the question, should the battleship go to a war-loving city? This obviously narrows the field slightly. Most city authorities actually try and promote safety along with their cultural offerings. So, where is the ideal place for a battleship?

A war-loving city near the sea? How about Mogadishu? It's on the coast and probably needs a boost to its tourist economy and culturally there are thin pickings there. The museum business plan clearly cannot rely on tourism to fund it. The tourist economy can grow (well it cannot get any smaller), so the battleship needs to earn its keep in some other way.

There is a possible solution. Somalia has a little local difficulty with pirates so there are two options:

1. The battleship can have a practical use against local pirates. The much bigger guns of the battleship should make it a one-sided contest
2. Alternatively the battleship can have a practical use for local pirates. Much bigger guns and greater range will make them much more effective at income generation.

Which will generate more income? Defeating pirates and increasing tourism? Or supporting piracy and encourage a culture of philanthropy from newly wealthy pirate entrepreneurs?

I don't have the answer, but look out for the privately funded National Museum of Piracy coming to a war-loving city nowhere near you (if you're lucky).

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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