Navy to move USS New Jersey to Camden in next few months
By ARON PILHOFER
Gannett State Bureau
PHILADELPHIA -- Now that it's official -- the Battleship New Jersey is coming to Camden -- local leaders are moving forward with plans to refurbish the ship and get it ready as a public attraction.
Retired Rear Adm. Thomas Seigenthaler, executive director of the Home Port Alliance, whose application brought the ship to Camden, said Monday the Navy would transfer the USS New Jersey from Philadelphia in 30 to 90 days.
It will be moved to a deep water pier somewhere along the New Jersey side of the river while the ship's permanent pier is being completed.
"It's going to be over there, on the Jersey side of the river, for all to see very shortly," said Seigenthaler, during a dockside press conference in Philadelphia with congressional leaders and others involved in the effort to bring the ship to Camden.
Once the ship is moved to its permanent pier along the Camden Waterfront, it will be refurbished and opened to the public as a museum and memorial.
The Home Port Alliance has proposed spending $12 million to $15 million to build a pier, repair the 58-year-old battleship and construct a walkway highlighting various periods of its history.
The group has collected close to $20 million, pending approval of a measure that would increase the state Legislature's allocation to $13.2 million.
The alliance also received $3.2 million from Camden County and $1 million from the Camden Empowerment Zone Corp.
Now that the 30-day review period by Congress is over and the Navy's decision to berth the ship in Camden instead of Bayonne is official, Rep. James Saxton, R-N.J, said it was time for both sides to move on.
"It's a step forward for the state of New Jersey, and in particular for the people of Camden, as it will help revitalize the Waterfront," he said.