museum director says ship shouldn't be berthed in Bayonne
The director of a floating naval
museum in New York Harbor on Friday said the USS New Jersey should
not be permanently berthed in nearby Bayonne.
"It should be outside a 50-mile radius for demographic
reasons so we don't eat each other alive (financially),"
said Lt. Gen. Martin R. Steele, executive director of the Intrepid
Sea-Air-Space Museum. Steele, however, stopped short of endorsing
Camden as a future home for the New Jersey.
The Camden site is competing with Bayonne on the North Jersey
side of New York Harbor to become the memorial site for the battleship.
A decision by the Navy is due by January.
Steele spoke at a luncheon meeting of the 1,000-member Philadelphia
chapter of the Navy League, which in September endorsed the proposed
Delaware River waterfront site in Camden as the final home for
the New Jersey.
The luncheon celebrated the 224th birthday of the Navy in
the city where it was born. Calling the matter a "sensitive
issue," he said the battleship should come back to New Jersey
and that no matter where it comes, he will "support it to
honor our heroes and our youth."
Steele's predecessor, Maj. Gen. Donald Gardner, last fall
expressed concerns at a congressional that a Bayonne site would
force unhealthy competition for visitors and funds between the
New Jersey and the Intrepid, which is an aircraft carrier. Gardner
brought the $11 million Intrepid operation out of the red several
During World War II, the Intrepid and the New Jersey...the
Navy's most decorated ship...fought side by side in the Pacific
in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval conflict in history.
In his remarks Friday, Steele said current efforts to secure
the New Jersey ultimately must be converted into a long-term
effort to preserve the ship.
"You must have a great amount of energy to get them (ships),
but sustaining that over the years to maintain the ship is difficult.
That's the main challenge the New Jersey will face," said
Steele, who recently retired as the number three man at Marine
Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Celeste Maschmeyer, president of the Navy League council,
said the board voted unanimously for the Camden site for many
reasons. "They felt it was built in this area at the former
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and would get more support here because
of our long maritime traditions," she said.
Retired Navy Capt. William H. Lockwood, president of Interocean
Ugland Management in Voorhees and a luncheon attendee, said putting
the ship in Camden makes more sense.
"If you put it in Bayonne, it will compete with the Intrepid.
Here, it will compliment the submarine Becuna and the Olympia
(Adm. Dewey's flagship). But obviously it will be a political
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