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

May 27, 1999

Bill could put battleship in Bayonne

 

By CAREN CHESLER
Gannett State Bureau

TRENTON - Several North Jersey lawmakers have introduced legislation that they hope will wrestle the mothballed Navy battleship USS New Jersey away from Camden and have it docked in Bayonne.

Groups from both cities submitted applications this month to the Navy, which will determine which side wins. The secretary of the Navy will decide by January.

But legislation introduced in the Senate and Assembly last week would give the state-appointed New Jersey Battleship Commission a say in determining where the ship is berthed. The commission wants the ship in Bayonne, where it would be a dream come true for Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, R-Monmouth, who chairs the commission. Those who favor Camden are up in arms.

"(Azzolina's) upsetting the entire process that the Navy has set in motion," said state Sen. John J. Matheussen, R-Gloucester.

U.S. Rep. James Saxton, R-N.J., said he does not understand how the state can pass a bill that appears to change federal law. Federal statutes say the Navy determines where the ship will be berthed.

"I think Azzolina does great damage to his cause to bring the ship to Bayonne by attempting to run around the Navy," Saxton said.

Azzolina denies the legislation is intended to bring the ship to Bayonne. He said the bill simply qualifies how the commission operates and who should sit on it.

Azzolina, a former Navy captain who served on the ship, said the Camden contingent is just trying to smear him and the commission to sabotage their efforts.

"If they don't stop, I will really smear them," he said. "I can get really dirty."

The bill's sponsors acknowledge that the legislation aims to place the ship in the hands of the commission, and ultimately, in Bayonne.

"The real intention is to move the battleship up north and get it into Jersey City or Bayonne. That's the underlying issue behind the mechanism set up," said Assemblyman Guy F. Talarico, R-Bergen, a co-sponsor in the Assembly.

A Navy official said she had not seen the proposed legislation, but reiterated that the ship was property of the U.S. Navy and it is up to the Navy to determine where it will be berthed.

USS New Jersey Home Page



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