By CAROL COMEGNO
Double-braided nylon rope, eight inches in diameter, held the USS New Jersey snug to moorings Sunday at its new $11 million pier on the downtown Waterfront.
The mooring lines hold a 45,000-ton vessel that is the nation's most decorated battleship. It is almost three football fields long and is one of four Iowa-class battleships - the largest ever built by the Navy and the one with the longest service.
There are 12 mooring points in the system, redesigned this year to make it even stronger than originally planned. Only eight lines, however, are now in use. Four others are still being worked on.
The Home Port Alliance, the nonprofit South Jersey coalition that expects to open the ship as a museum soon, approved the more elaborate and costly 12-point mooring system.
"The alliance went with a more cautious approach, even though it nearly doubled the cost of the mooring arrangement," said Camden County Freeholder Patricia Jones, who is co-chairwoman of the alliance.
Rear Adm. Thomas Seigenthaler, alliance executive director, said the mooring will be able to withstand winds of up to 75 mph.
The New Jersey sits at the end of a T-shaped pier in 38 feet of water at low tide - deeper than its 34.5 foot draft. Dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was required to reach that depth.
A 200-foot-long walkway leads to the docking pier.
But the ship's length extends beyond the 454-foot pier at the bow, or front, and stern, or rear. It is docked with its starboard, or right side, to the pier.
On the pier, four lines from the ship's main deck are attached to four mooring posts. Some of the lines are crisscrossed to better stabilize the vessel.
In addition, the ship is held to four steel and concrete pilings in the water - two off the starboard bow and two off the starboard stern.
Beyond the pier, there are also four steel anchorplates driven into the river bottom - two each at the stern and the bow. Chains are fastened to them underwater, but they have not yet been connected to the ship. These plates replace the ship's own heavy bow and stern anchors usually used for more temporary moorings.
The ship's boatswain, Joe Shields, said the anchorplates will not be connected until later. The plates with rings must first be welded to the ship's hull so that the chains now connected to the anchorplates underwater can be secured to the ship, he said.
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