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South Jersey

Sunday, November 25, 2001
USS New Jersey Web sites may cause confusion

By CAROL COMEGNO
Courier-Post Staff

Browsing the Web for battleship New Jersey sites?

What you find may only confuse you.

The reason: More than one site calls itself an " official" battleship site and the Home Port Alliance, which operates the ship museum, has not been updating its Web site regularly.

The Alliance, the South Jersey nonprofit that just opened the Navy's most decorated battleship as a memorial and museum in Camden, regards its site as the official site of the USS New Jersey. The Alliance's address: www. battleshipnewjersey.org.

But its home page says the ship is still docked at the Broadway Marine Terminal, where it underwent a nearly $7 million restoration. The ship was towed from the Broadway Terminal Sept. 23. It is berthed at its permanent home on the downtown waterfront and is open to visitors. However, the site does list tour hours and group registration procedures, although that information is incomplete.

Another battleship site is run by the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs - www.battleship-newjersey. org.

Searching for "battleship New Jersey" on a browser brings up this site as the ship's official home page and lists it before the Alliance's. That's because the department's site, which was set up in 1999, is years older than the Alliance's, which came up this year.

The state site gives the official account of the warship' s 1999 journey home to the Delaware River from Bremerton, Wash., but has little other information about the ship.

The World War II warship had served until 1991 and is the largest class of battleship. The state paid more than $ 2 million to have the ship towed back to New Jersey.

Jack Shaw, the Alliance's program director, said the Alliance concluded it could not trademark the ship because it is in the public domain. "It is a Navy battleship owned by the people of the country. What we can trademark are items we sell, such as T-shirts," he said.

The Alliance, which is understaffed, is struggling to keep the Web site up and running, he said.

"We have made some upgrades to the site but have not had the staff to do more. Since the opening we have been concentrating on matters aboard the ship as we've gotten started with tours," he said.

"Clearly people should go to our site and we hope to have it in better shape soon, but most of these other sites have a reasonable collection of information about the ship."

Col. John Dwyer, spokesman for the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said it has put a disclaimer on its site, explaining it was the "official" site only of the ship's 1999 journey back home.

The department receives numerous inquiries about the battleship and refers them to the Alliance. Part of the problem, Dwyer said, is that Web searches show the department's as the official ship site.

Bill Shepherd, a public affairs officer for the department, said people have also complained to the department about the lack of up-to-date information on the Alliance Web site.

Other flaws on the Alliance site:

•It says the ship was to open Sept. 11 but never says it opened Oct. 15.

•It fails to mention advance ticket sales for timed tickets.

•The events section does not list any activities for December for advance visitor planning even though several events are scheduled.

They include at least two Pearl Harbor commemoration ceremonies, including a ship lighting on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7.

Hundreds of sites run by individuals and groups also deal with the battleship.

Several of the major ship Web sites link to the Alliance site. These include the state battleship foundation site, www.battleshipnj.com/, and the ship's historical museum society, www.battleship-newjersey.com/home.html, which features photographs of the ship's opening.

Since the ship's opening, the sites have seen more activity.

The Internet company that runs the Web site for the the battleship foundation said the number of hits on its site rose to 26,000 last month from 9,000 a month in the spring.

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