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South Jersey

Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Whaleboats arrive for battleship

RON KARAFIN/Courier-Post
South Jersey Port Corp. executive director Joseph Balzano helps unload a whaleboat for the USS New Jersey.

Courier-Post Staff

Flatbed trucks delivered two whaleboats Monday that will be mounted on the battleship New Jersey once workers refurbish the deck of the planned floating museum.

The Home Port Alliance, the group that won the historic ship for the Camden Waterfront, accepted the 26-foot-long boats from the Navy.

"We were looking for a pair because the whaleboats on the New Jersey were taken off when she was decommissioned. The Navy offered these and we are delighted to have gotten them," said alliance executive director Thomas Seigenthaler.

Whaleboats, which are pointed at both ends and have a wider center beam, are put over the side of a ship to carry supplies to and from shore, said Joe Shields, the battleship's boatswain. They also can be used as lifeboats in rescues.

The boats got their name from the whaling industry. They were launched from a larger vessel, carrying crew members who hunted whales with harpoons, then followed the prey until it died.

The two whaleboats are made of Fiberglas-reinforced plastic, unlike the original wooden whaleboats that were put aboard the New Jersey when it was built during World War II. Wooden whaleboats are no longer available.

Seigenthaler said these boats came off the USS Seattle, a decommissioned supply ship in Philadelphia.

The boats were stored at the Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. They were trucked to New Jersey separately on Monday and then taken off flatbeds by South Jersey Port Corp. cranes at the Broadway Terminal for storage until they are needed.

One whaleboat will be mounted on each side of the 887-foot battleship, one of the most highly decorated in the Navy and fought in four wars or conflicts.

The New Jersey, undergoing a $7 million refurbishment at the terminal, ultimately will be docked at a pier to be built behind the E-Centre. Alliance officials hope to open the attraction on Sept. 2.

The Navy awarded the ship to the Camden group a year ago this month after an intense competition for the historic vessel with the state battleship commission, which wanted the ship in Bayonne.

Seigenthaler said the alliance also is searching for two personnel boats, one measuring 33 feet long and the other 44 feet long. They will be mounted on the ship in the same area as the whaleboats. Anyone who can assist in locating them is asked to call the alliance office at (856) 966- 1652.

On the Web

  • Complete Courier-Post USS New Jersey coverage

  • Official USS New Jersey Web site

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