South Jersey congressmen say battleship's move is on track
By DEBORAH YAFFE
Gannett State Bureau
The battleship New Jersey's move to Camden is on track, despite recent protests from two of North Jersey's representatives in Congress, two South Jersey congressmen said Wednesday.
"The Navy has informed us that everything is on schedule, recent complaints notwithstanding," Rep. Jim Saxton, a Mount Holly Republican, said in a statement also signed by Rep. Robert E. Andrews, a Democrat from Haddon Heights.
Last week, Reps. Marge S. Roukema, a Bergen County Republican, and Robert Menendez, a Hudson County Democrat, separately asked the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, to look into the Navy's decision. It chose Camden over Bayonne as the battleship's docking site, where it will be converted into a museum and memorial.
Menendez also asked the Navy's inspector general to investigate, claiming "political persuasion" might have played a role in the ruling.
Rita Wilks, a spokeswoman for the Naval Sea Systems Command, which administers the ship donation program, said the Navy told Saxton's staff that "the Navy intends to continue working toward that transfer" to Camden.
Congress has 30 session days to review the Navy's site selection, and that review period expires April 8.
"In 10 days this will all be recognized for what it is: a futile political stunt," Andrews said in the statement. "The ship is coming to Camden."
But Menendez said the investigations he requested could void the Navy's decision even after the April 8 deadline expires, since his allegations, "if they are ... found to be true, go to the very heart of whether the process was fair."
"A long time ago, I learned you have to be gracious in both winning and losing," said state Sen. John J. Matheussen, R-Gloucester, who co-founded the group that pushed for the battleship's move to Camden. "I think they missed that lesson."
For more on the battleship, go to the Courier-Post Web site at www.southjerseynews.com/battleship/.