By CAROL COMEGNO
A historic battleship that once roamed the seas will soon
establish worldwide contact again.
When the USS New Jersey was at sea, one of the general
orders heard over the public address system was "All hands
The new cry on board will be "All hams on deck!"
Instead of sailors sending radio transmissions to other
ships at sea, amateur ham radio operators will air that
greeting in a worldwide broadcast from the deck of the
retired battleship at a dock where it is undergoing
restoration. The first broadcast is set for the Memorial
The recently established Battleship New Jersey Amateur
Radio Station is one of two communications projects under
way aboard the historic warship, which is being refurbished
for a planned Sept. 2 opening as a floating museum.
"We love this. We hope to run an amateur station
regularly once the ship opens as a museum and give tours of
Radio Central - the ship's main radio room," said Peter
Greene of Marlton, president of the New Jersey's amateur
radio club and a lead engineer with L3 Communications of
The ham radio call sign will be NJ2BB.
The club is one of two radio projects under way on the
battleship. The other involves the repair of all internal
communications systems aboard ship.
L3 Communications, a defense contractor, is sponsoring
both projects as a corporate gesture to the community. It
is coordinating those efforts with the Home Port Alliance,
the nonprofit group restoring the ship.
Engineers and others from L3 and Lockheed Martin of
Moorestown already have some of the ship's internal public
address system working.
Mayling Eaves, spokeswoman for L3, said the firm has
given the club $1,000 to print brochures and is considering
a corporate contribution to help restore the ship's main
"Our engineers have worked on Navy communications
projects for more than than 50 years and we're so happy the
ship has come," she said. "It is a perfect fit for us."
Alliance Executive Director Thomas Seigenthaler said the
radio group is doing a "super job."
"The main interior communication system shipwide (a
public address system) has been activated in several areas,
allowing us to make some announcements, and some of the
other systems have been partially activated also," he
Engineers such as Greene and John Saracen of Mount Holly
have been busy studying the wiring system and reconnecting
wires and screws, a tedious job that must be done with hand
"The Navy intentionally cut much of the wiring that
controls radio and public address communications on the New
Jersey during deactivation so that it could not be used or
misused," Greene said.
He said his group sought help from Dynalec of Sodus, N.
Y., the builder of some of the original communications
equipment. "They sent us their manual, which saved us hours
and hours of work," Greene said.
John Goheen, a Lockheed Martin engineer who integrates
combat systems for Aegis class naval destroyers, volunteers
on the New Jersey on Saturdays.
Goheen pointed to a short-wave radio receiver to
illustrate what has to be done. "We are working to locate
replacement parts for ones that have been pulled out," he
He views the work needed to bring the ship back to life
as a challenge.
"I'm dedicated to it," he said. "My wife refers to her
as the `other woman.'"