15, 1999 |
site will be readied for battleship, just in case
By KATHY HENNESSY
By Courier-Post Staff
The Home Port Alliance and Camden County freeholders are proceeding
as if Camden has been selected as the home port for the USS New
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
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.