29, 1994 |
the 'Black Dragon' home
USS New Jersey belongs on the Camden Waterfront.
It may take a puff of magic but some South
Jerseyites are striving to have the 'Black Dragon' live by its
native sea again.
They want to have the USS New Jersey brought
to the Camden Waterfront. Nicknamed the 'Black Dragon' because
of its sharply rising bow and and its Navy blue camouflage coloring,
the battleship was christened at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
on Dec. 7, 1942.
It served in four wars but frolics now only
in the autumn mist of memory. It is mothballed but the Navy will
not indicate when it might be decommissioned.
What's more, there is a Battleship New Jersey
Historical Museum Society dedicated to bringing the ship to Liberty
State Park in Jersey City.
attribute 13 Undaunted, Lois Coskey of Collingswood,
Fred Scholobohm of Cinnaminson, Jack Riley of Marlton and Walter
Eife of Westmont are, among others, struggling to siphon it to
Camden. They have an enthusiastic ally in Joe Balzano, executive
director of the South Jersey Port Corp.
Nevertheless, they've charted a choppy course.
Besides North Jersey's presumed advantage, there's a question
of cost. Joseph Azzolina, the Monmouth County assemblyman who
is chairman of the state battleship commission, estimates it
would cost $5 million just to tow the New Jersey from its mooring
in Bremerton, Wash. 'The population needed to support an attraction
like this is in the north,' he emphasizes, 'and so, frankly,
are the people with the money need to underwrite such a project.'
Maybe so, but the South Jersey crew grittily
sails on. To them, we echo Capt. James Lawrence, who lived in
Burlington City: Don't give up the ship!