November 12, 1999
For Camden and Bayonne, nothing left to do but wait
Chris LaChall/Courier-Post A fireboat trails the USS New Jersey as it nears the Naval Ship Yard, where it will remain until its final resting place is decided.
Now that the USS New Jersey has arrived safely in Philadelphia, there is little left to do but wait for the U.S. Navy to complete its review of competing applications from the cities vying for the honor of becoming the Big J's final home.
Camden and Bayonne have submitted extensive applications to the Navy - each hoping to host the battleship in perpetuity as a memorial and floating museum for tourists.
The Navy has said it will choose one of the two cities by the end of January.
"This is a little bittersweet. It's so close to where it should be (in Camden), but it's not there yet," said Camden County Freeholder Patricia Jones, who hopes the battleship will find a home in Camden.
Until the Navy's decision, the USS New Jersey will remain mothballed at the closed Philadelphia Naval Shipyard - one of dozens of retired naval vessels docked there.
Bayonne - the choice of a state-sanctioned commission charged with selecting a home for the battleship - wants to place it at the former Military Ocean Terminal on the Port Jersey Channel in the New Jersey-New York harbor.
Camden, on the other hand, believes it is a more appropriate home for the USS New Jersey because the ship was constructed just across the Delaware River in Philadelphia. South Jersey is home to many who helped build it.
Those itching to get aboard must wait a little longer.
Until the Navy decides where the ship ultimately will be berthed, there will be no ceremony on board and no members of the public will be permitted to board. The shipyard is closed to the public.
No restoration work will be allowed until the ship is officially donated to the state and moved to its permanent port.