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

July 15, 1999

Camden site will be readied for battleship, just in case

By KATHY HENNESSY
By Courier-Post Staff

CAMDEN The Home Port Alliance and Camden County freeholders are proceeding as if Camden has been selected as the home port for the USS New Jersey.

The nonprofit coalition, which has taken the lead in trying to convince the Navy to dock the World War II vessel on Camden's Waterfront, is taking steps to make the area a `ready made' home for the battleship.

The effort follows the freeholders' decision to withdraw a lawsuit filed in October against the New Jersey Battleship Commission, which recommended Bayonne for the ship's final berth.

County officials say they no longer think the lawsuit is necessary and don't want pending litigation to negatively influence the Navy's decision.

`We think our application is powerful and persuasive,and we look forward to boarding the 'Big J' from the Camden Waterfront for a dedication ceremony next spring,' said Freeholder Pat Jones.

The Navy is expected to decide the ship's final home late this year or early next year. The vessel will be towed from Washington state to the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on Nov. 4 and will remain there until a decision is made.

In the meantime, the Home Port Alliance is proceeding with plans to prepare Camden's Waterfront.

Camden County and the Camden City Empowerment Zone have already raised $4.2 million to build a pier and to begin to prepare the ship for tourists. The alliance has applied for docking permits and is working on how to operate a museum around the vessel.

`If it were selected tomorrow, we would be ready,' said retired Adm. Thomas Seigenthaler, who wrote Camden's application to the Navy.

Jones believes the battleship, which was built at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, can help make the Waterfront a tourist destination.



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