By CAROL COMEGNO
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
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
Plans to bus visitors to the vessel from the Wiggins
Waterfront Park vicinity will be announced Monday, McGuigan
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
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