By CAROL COMEGNO
Anyone who wants to board the battleship USS New Jersey
before she is refurbished as a museum can come to Wiggins
Park and board buses that will take them to the ship for
tours on Wednesday and Thursday.
The historic and highly decorated warship's new owner,
the Home Port Alliance, is allowing public tours free of
charge for just these two days before the New Jersey is
moved next week to a South Camden pier for repairs.
"Besides thanking the Alliance supporters, the tours
will give visitors an opportunity to see how much work the
New Jersey really needs, including superstructure and hull
painting as well as restoration of its teak deck, before
the ship can be showcased as a nationally recognized
veterans' memorial," said retired Capt. David McGuigan,
He said buses will pick up visitors at 1 Port Center,
the high-rise across from the state Aquarium, between 9 a.
m. and 2 p.m.
They will be transported to the Beckett Street Terminal
of the South Jersey Port Corp., where the ship is docked at
Pier 4. No parking will be permitted at the terminal.
McGuigan said the public will be allowed only on the
ship's main deck because of restrictions imposed by the U.
S. Environmental Protection Agency, but will be able to see
and touch some of the equipment and armaments on the 887-
foot battlewagon that dates to World War II. These include
three 16-inch gun turrets, the Tomahawk cruise and Harpoon
missile area, five-inch gun mounts, the helicopter pad and
the anchor and chain.
The EPA said that no visitors could go below because the ship's interior is not yet
environmentally clean and visitor-safe. Also, the ship is
not handicap-accessible for this week's tours.
more than $20 million to restore the ship and a build a
pier, a shoreside visitor center, museum and theater.
Tentative opening is set for late 2001.