19, 1998 |
New Jersey should berth in Camden
battleship New Jersey would be better appreciated in Camden than
From World War II to Vietnam, the venerable
USS New Jersey proved itself. But that distinguished service
may be child's play next to the fight ahead over where to dock
it when it comes home.
We side with those who want the New Jersey
docked off Camden's Waterfront and that's not just because we
Men and women built the mighty New Jersey
in 1942 at the Philadelphia Naval Yard. One year to the day after
the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the 57,000-ton war horse
was launched into the Delaware River and went on to become the
Navy's most decorated battleship.
It will cost an estimated $1.2 million to
tow the ship here from its mooring in Washington state and another
$6 million to restore it as a museum.
Originally, the plan was to put the New Jersey
off Liberty State Park but that was too expensive. Second choice
was the Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne on the Hudson River.
Now, there's a third option. Camden Mayor
Milt Milan and State Sen. John Matheussen, R-Gloucester, will
present a proposal to Trenton to have the New Jersey docked at
'You're not bringing the ship home if you
put it in the Hudson,' said Matheussen.
The North Jersey faction says being docked
close to New York City will ensure large crowds.
That's just plain stupid. Nobody's going to
leave Big Apple attractions to go to Bayonne, even if they could
Besides, adds U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli,
who's smart enough to throw in with the South, New York already
has the USS Intrepid, a grand old carrier now serving as a museum.
'It's going to Bayonne,' said a defiant Assemblyman
Joseph Azzolina, R-Monmouth, who chairs the USS New Jersey Battleship
Commission. It has raised about $3 million from residents of
the North and South to restore and tow the ship.
'Its home is in the Delaware,' insists Assemblyman
Gerald Luongo, R-Gloucester. 'It wasn't built in the Brooklyn
Naval Yard. It was built here by the people who lived here.'
We think the New Jersey will be a great addition
to the renaissance occurring on the Camden Waterfront.
It will fit in nicely with the historic attractions
in Philadelphia and existing and planned entertainment facilities
in Camden, either one of which can draw more tourists than Bayonne.
Where is that, anyway?
Given the passion of North/South squabbles,
this may be the New Jersey's greatest battle yet.