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South Jersey

Thursday, June 14, 2001
Battleship Web site shut down

Courier-Post Staff

The Home Port Alliance has temporarily shut down its Web site for the planned battleship USS New Jersey museum in Camden.

The site was online for only three days before it was shut down Monday after some board members criticized it as incomplete and too game-like.

The site contained little historical information about the ship and the effort to bring it to Camden. It had a video game that allowed online visitors to sink enemy vessels using the New Jersey's 16-inch guns.

"We hadn't seen it before it went online. It was a lack of communication," said Alliance co-chairman Patricia Jones.

There are members who do not care for the video game, which will probably be eliminated, she said.

She said a modification may be made to a simulated battleship gun that explodes in your face as you click open the Web site. That may be changed to make the gun fire to one side, she said.

The site will be up and running by next week, Jones said.

Board member Frank Fulbrook called the video game " inappropriate for a memorial museum" Web site and the site lacked important historical information.

The site made no mention of the successful application to the Navy for the museum or the early efforts of the state Battleship Commission to bring the historic ship - one of the most highly decorated in the Navy - to its namesake state.

Alliance trustees did not see the Web site before it was put online by Avericom of Cherry Hill, the firm hired by the trustees.

Peter Bowman, president of Avericom, could not be reached for comment.

The Alliance is a nonprofit South Jersey coalition of government, civic and labor leaders that successfully obtained Navy approval to bring the retired ship back to the Delaware River, where it was built.

There was discussion of the Web site at a closed session of the board of trustees before the public meeting Wednesday night at Rowan University in Glassboro but no action was taken at the open session.

Some members were able to view the Web site for the first time during the closed meeting.

Meanwhile, the board reported that construction of a $10 million, T-shaped pier is on target for a Sept. 2 opening of the ship now that the Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract for dredging. The river needs to be deepened between three and five feet to 66 feet near the Beckett Street Terminal in order for the ship to be towed to its new home from the Broadway Terminal, where it is undergoing a $6 million to $7 million restoration.

The board Wednesday night voted to spend about $90,000 to lengthen and weld about 70 pilings to strengthen the pier area where the ship will rest.

The board also approved a 4,000-square-foot mini visitor center that will include a ticketing area and lavatory.

Fulbrook abstained from Wednesday's meeting to avoid a conflict of interest because some of the money that will pay for the center comes from the Camden Empowerment Zone Corp., of which he is president.

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