leaders, veterans to greet battleship in Panama this weekend
By ARON PILHOFER
Gannett State Bureau
When the battleship New Jersey
passes through the Panama Canal this weekend it won't do so unnoticed.
More than 160 New Jerseyans will watch the ship cross from
the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. Among them will be Gov. Christie
Whitman, several members of Congress and state legislators.
"This is a long-awaited and proud moment for the citizens
of New Jersey, and I am looking forward to witnessing history
being made as our namesake battleship travels through the locks
of the Panama Canal one final time on her way back home,"
said state Sen. John J. Matheussen, R-Gloucester.
The governor's personal entourage will include a half-dozen
staffers and her state police security detail. The trip will
cost the governor's office $10,000.
All other participants will pay their own way.
They include: Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen,
D-N.J., state Senate President Donald DiFrancesco, R-Union, and
Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, D-Monmouth, chairman of the New
Jersey Battleship Commission.
The governor invited 100 New Jersey veterans to make the trip,
but only a handful could afford to take the time and spend the
money. Lautenberg announced Friday that he will pay to bring
10 veterans along.
The ship is scheduled to arrive in Balboa, Panama, today.
On Sunday, the governor will tour the ship with reporters.
A speaking program will follow. On Monday, Whitman will board
the New Jersey for its entrance into the canal.
The ship will exit into the Atlantic on Thursday on its way
back to the Garden State, where it will be permanently berthed
in either Camden or Bayonne as a floating museum. The Navy has
yet to decide which port will be the New Jersey's final home.
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