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South Jersey

Saturday, September 7, 2002
Battleship passes inspection

By CAROL COMEGNO
Courier-Post Staff
CAMDEN

The USS New Jersey, a retired battleship that is now a floating museum on the city waterfront, recently received accolades from a Navy inspection team.

Rita Wilks, a a spokeswoman for Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters in Washington, D.C., said the ship was given a rating of "satisfactory." She said 15 naval reservists conducted the annual maintenance inspection for the Navy's ship donation office. She said they checked for leaks inside and outside the ship.

"We were all very impressed with the work that you and your people have done in taking an inactive vessel and restoring it to a very impressive and highly presentable memorial ship," naval reservist Commander Pete Yarger wrote in a letter to the Home Port Alliance in August. The alliance, which operates the battleship museum, released the letter this week.

Retired Rear Adm. Thomas Seigenthaler, the ship's executive officer, said he was thrilled with the result because it reflects the hard work of many volunteers and contractors.

The annual inspection was the first by the Navy since the museum opened in October 2001.

In other business, the alliance's board announced the resignation of trustee Philip Rowan of Cherry Hill, executive director of the Camden County Improvement Authority, who served as a citizen member. He was one of three incorporators of the alliance in 1998.

The board also appointed Jay Hadley, vice president of development for Cooper Health Systems, as a new member.

Hadley worked with former Republican Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas and actor Tom Hanks to help raise $186 million for the National World War II Memorial. It is under construction in Washington, D.C.

"This is an exciting new challenge for me because the battleship is part of our American heritage. I hope to be able to successfully raise funds to allow it to continue to do its job telling the story of the millions of men and women who have served this country," Hadley said.

Rowan said he left because the original goals of the alliance - bringing the ship to Camden, refurbishing it and opening it as a museum - have been achieved. "Mission accomplished," he said.


Reach Carol Comegno at (609) 267-9486 or e-mail ccomegno@courierpostonline.com

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