By CAROL COMEGNO
The heightened military alert now in effect has indefinitely delayed Sunday's planned move of the battleship USS New Jersey.
The Coast Guard in Philadelphia decided Thursday that its manpower and vessels are needed for stepped-up security activities in light of Tuesday's terrorist attacks. Thus, it won't be available to ensure the safe tow of the historic battleship to its new pier on the Camden Waterfront.
The Home Port Alliance, a South Jersey nonprofit coalition in charge of the ship, must move it to a downtown pier behind the Tweeter Center in order to open it to the public as a floating museum. It now is at the Broadway Terminal of the South Jersey Port Corp.
"I am not distressed about this," said state Sen. John Matheussen, alliance co-chairman. "In the overall scheme of things, the move of the ship pales in comparison to the tragic events of this week."
Coast Guard Capt. Gregory Adams, captain of the Port of Philadelphia, informed the alliance of his decision early Thursday.
"We are not setting a future date that it will be moved. Our resources are going to be tied up for a while doing port security," said Coast Guard Lt. Commander David Ford. " We are at an increased security level for our facility and the Delaware River and Bay. We're boarding more ships and are requiring all commercial ships to report arrivals and departures."
The Coast Guard said it will review its situation again in a week.
The security alert leaves the alliance without moving or opening dates for a long-awaited project costing more than $ 20 million.
The New Jersey, which fought in every major war since World War II, is the Navy's most highly decorated battleship.
Alliance Co-chairman Patricia Jones said the dilemma has a positive aspect, because it allows last-minute pier work and ship repairs to continue at separate locations prior to the move.
"We hope the ship will move soon," she said, "but we know it's not going to be the celebratory move we had planned in view of what has happened in Washington and New York."
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