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Thursday, August 11, 2005Past Issues - S | M | T | W | T | F | S
 
South Jersey

Another step toward return of USS New Jersey to Camden

Wanted: An engineering company that's up to a task the size of a battleship. In fact, the task is a battleship.

More proof that the USS New Jersey really is on its way to the Camden Waterfront surfaced last week when the Home Port Alliance began advertising for the job of project manager for the battleship memorial.

Interested companies have until March 31 to apply. The project manager will advise the Home Port Alliance on virtually every step of the process.

And what a process it is. Getting the "Big J" ready to be an anchor attraction on the Camden Waterfront is a most difficult task.

Job No. 1 is repair and restoration of the "Big J."

The list of "things to do" is lengthy: replacement of the teak deck, opening doors that have been welded shut, installation of security, flood prevention and fire detection systems, renovation of many of the rooms, possible hull repairs, construction of a handicap ramp and installation of a dehumidifier system.

Oh yeah, the ship's 887-foot exterior needs a new coat of paint - in battleship gray, of course.

In addition to the repairs is construction of a Waterfront pier.

After that comes development of shore facilities, including a viewing plaza, theater, interpretive walkway and reception building.

And all along the way, there are papers to sign and shuffle.

For example, the Home Port Alliance will be working with the Environmental Protection Agency to make sure all work is done in compliance with the Toxic Substance Control Act, whatever that entails.

If everything goes according to plan, it's hoped that the museum will be open to the public late in the summer of 2001.

During this process, there likely will be delays and, at times, a bit of frustration. Already, a record-keeping snafu in Congress has delayed the congressional comment period. Remember, government, and lots of government, is involved in bringing the battleship home. And, where there's government, there is frustration.

The battle for the "Big J" was an emotional one. Fortunately, the Navy took a careful look at both the alliance's application and the one submitted to put the ship in Bayonne. Based on the merits, the Camden site won - as it should have.

Indeed, those folks in South Jersey who are anxious to see this ship take its permanent berth (and who isn't?) are ready to push and pull the "Big J" across the river. But we'll have to be patient.

At the least, we can be encouraged that the process is moving along.

And we can count the days until the summer of 2001 when, finally, the ship is open for business.



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