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

Plenty of work on ship still needs to be done

Courier-Post Staff

Much work must be done before the first tourist boards the USS New Jersey.

Doors that are welded shut will have to be shorn open. The main deck of teak wood, so prominent on the battleship, will have to be replaced. And painters will have to swathe the 887-foot length of the New Jersey's exterior in fresh battleship gray.

Those projects and others to turn the New Jersey into a floating museum will cost an estimated $4 million to $5 million or about a third of the $13 million to $15 million needed to open the ship as a tourist attraction, said retired Capt. David McGuigan, president of the Home Port Alliance.

The Alliance based its estimate partly on the cost of maintenance on other Navy warships.

Camden County has pledged $3.2 million, while the state will contribute $6 million. The balance of the money will be raised from other public sources or privately by the Home Port Alliance.

An estimated $1 million will be needed just to remove or make asbestos used for insulation harmless, and get rid of cancer-causing PCBs, which are located in electrical equipment, McGuigan said.

The single biggest repair cost is expected to be replacement of the teak deck, which is warped and coming apart.

Among the other projects:

• Installation of a security system to help prevent access to off-

limit portions of the cavernous ship.

• Renovation of the main deck's officers' quarters, the enlisted men's bunk rooms and the ward room.

• Installation of flood prevention and fire protection systems.

• Construction of a control room, from which the ship's security, flooding and fire suppression systems can be monitored.

• Inspection of the hull by divers, with possible hull repairs or improvements.

• Construction of a handicap ramp.

• Installation of a dehumidifier system to prevent rusting of the interior, and installation of electrodes in the water around the ship to prevent hull corrosion.

An undetermined amount of money will be spent to create displays on the main deck, including interactive attractions. Tourists may be able to push a button in a gun turret for a simulated loading of a shell, McGuigan said.

None of the work is expected to require that the ship be dry-docked. Depending on who gets the contracts, McGuigan said the New Jersey may find itself traveling up or down river to get the jobs accomplished.

All of the work can be done within the Delaware Valley, McGuigan said, but it's too soon to say who might get the work.

McGuigan said the total bidding philosophy has not yet been determined and may be shaped by requirements of public agencies contributing money. Some requests for proposals such as audit work have already been advertised.

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