By CAROL COMEGNO
Eight months after the U.S. Navy awarded the
battleship New Jersey to the Camden Waterfront, the state-
sanctioned Battleship Commission has announced its public
support for Camden as the permanent home of the highly
The state commission, which lobbied to have the state's
namesake battleship berthed permanently in Bayonne,
unanimously endorsed Camden during a meeting last
The somewhat anti-climactic vote followed failed efforts
to bring the ship to North Jersey and an aborted effort to
file a lawsuit to overturn the Navy's decision.
The commission chairman, Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, R-
Monmouth, recommended the panel give its total support to
the Camden project and focus its energies to ensure the
ship becomes a source of pride for New Jersey.
"We fully support the Navy's decision to berth the ship
in Camden," the resolution states.
Azzolina, who also wrote a letter to Gov. Christie
Whitman endorsing the Camden site, said the primary goal of
the commission has been accomplished - to bring the ship
back to the state.
"I will not tolerate any efforts to challenge the Navy
decision, and we want a good working relationship with the
Home Port Alliance," he said Wednesday.
The Home Port Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of South
Jersey labor, political and business leaders, won the ship
in a competition with the commission, which rejected the
Camden site in 1998. The ship was towed to a repair site
Aug. 15 at the Broadway Terminal in Camden.
The Navy awarded the battleship to Camden in January -
eight months before the commission's vote of support.
"It was long overdue," said commission member Joseph
Dyer of Pennsville, a longtime Camden backer, "but I have
to give the chairman credit for taking the reins,
chastising some of the members and accomplishing this
The commission receives some of its funds from the
state, which also has set aside a separate $6 million for
ship refurbishment with plans for another $7.2 million to
be funneled to the alliance through the Delaware River Port
The ship is projected to open to visitors on the Camden
Waterfront in late 2001, following an overhaul.