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By CAROL COMEGNO
There is still time for a few lucky Camden County residents to win a ride on the battleship USS New Jersey when it moves this month to its final berth.
But they must act quickly; today is the deadline to apply.
County freeholders extended the deadline for their contest to ride the Navy's most decorated battleship, now scheduled to move Sept. 16 from its repair dock in South Camden to its downtown Waterfront home. Two names will be drawn, and each will be able to bring one guest aboard the ship.
Close to 2,000 people had submitted their names as of Thursday, said Freeholder Edward McDonnell. The drawing is set for Monday.
"The response shows the enthusiasm that the people in Camden County and the region feel for the USS New Jersey and how excited they are that it will be on the Camden Waterfront," he said.
Construction delays postponed the ship's planned move, originally set for Labor Day. The Home Port Alliance, the South Jersey nonprofit group in charge of turning the ship into a floating museum, hasn't set a date for its grand opening to the public. But the alliance expects that to happen by the end of this month.
Meanwhile, construction continues at the new $11 million pier behind the Tweeter Center and at the ship, which is being restored for tours.
A problem with one of four plate anchors that will help hold the 45,000-ton ship at its mooring was rectified Thursday. The anchor failed a tension stress test earlier this week and pulled loose from the river bottom, alliance officials said.
Pat Jones, co-chairman of the alliance, said workers had reset the anchor and were retesting it. The ship will have a total of eight other mooring points that include pilings and bollards.
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