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Thursday, August 11, 2005Past Issues - S | M | T | W | T | F | S
 
South Jersey


USS New Jersey opening to public free for two days


By CAROL COMEGNO
Courier-Post Staff
CAMDEN

The public will have an opportunity to stand on the deck of the historic battleship USS New Jersey next week for the first and only time before it is moved to South Camden for restoration.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the ship will be opened to the public free of charge before being closed for a year or more until it is returned upriver and opened as a floating museum sometime in 2001.

The Home Port Alliance, a local coalition that now owns the retired warship, decided at a meeting on Friday to open the ship to the public from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both days before moving it from one terminal of the South Jersey Port Corp. downriver to another.

"We are eager to showcase this great ship because there has been such tremendous support from the public," said retired Capt. David McGuigan, alliance president. He said visitors must realize the ship is not in a restored condition.

Plans to bus visitors to the vessel from the Wiggins Waterfront Park vicinity will be announced Monday, McGuigan said.

He said plans call for moving the ship on Aug. 15 between 1 and 2 p.m. from the Beckett Street Marine Terminal about three-quarters of a mile south to the Broadway Terminal.

Since the ship was towed to Philadelphia from Panama in October, it has been open for two invitation-only events, both in Camden.

One was a state welcoming event after it arrived here July 27 from the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard; the second was a speech by retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf this week for the Republican National Convention.

The ship will be opened as a museum after a pier and visitor center are built at the rear of the E-Centre near Wiggins Waterfront Park.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday approved visitation plans for the 58-year-old ship, which recently was transferred by the Navy. McGuigan said no visitors will be allowed below deck because polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) still exist on the ship's interior, a problem that will be addressed during restoration.

The alliance will sell battleship T-shirts during the visitation. Visitors may make voluntary donations.

The ship fought in the Pacific in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and is one of the most decorated in U.S. naval history.



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