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Battleship New Jersey Departs Camden

The United States’ most acclaimed battleship will vacate its longstanding spot along Camden’s waterfront for the first time in many years. This month, the Battleship New Jersey embarks on a journey along the Delaware River to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for essential historic dry dock repairs.

Marshall Spevak, CEO of the Battleship New Jersey, expressed the significance of the event: “This battleship represents a remarkable piece of history. We’re witnessing a once-in-a-generation event with its movement.”

Set to leave Camden on Thursday, March 21st at the peak of high tide, precisely at 12:10 p.m., the ship will be bid farewell in a ceremony at the pier at 11 a.m. This departure marks the battleship’s first relocation since its arrival in 2000.

Spevak noted the excitement surrounding the event, with people flying in from across the country to witness the departure on the 21st.

The Battleship New Jersey is undergoing its first dry docking in 32 years, a $10 million project critical for its preservation.

“Decommissioned navy ships should ideally be dry docked every 20 years. We’re approaching 35 years now,” Spevak pointed out.

The refurbishment in Philadelphia is expected to last about two months. Following the maintenance, the battleship will return to Camden, but not before offering an opportunity for the public to view it in Philly. The museum provides exclusive dry dock tours during weekends, allowing visitors to walk beneath the historic vessel.

Spevak highlighted the rarity of this event, saying, “It’s uncertain when an Iowa class battleship will be in dry dock again. This is truly a unique opportunity.”

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Preparations for moving an 887-foot, 45,000-ton battleship

The Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial is currently closed to the public as preparations for the relocation are underway.

Adjustments were made to ensure the battleship could pass under the Walt Whitman Bridge, including removing the mast and radar from the ship’s top.

Spevak explained, “We have a clearance of about 11 to 16 feet at high tide, making it a close fit under the bridge.”

The ship’s northern gangway was also dismantled. Contractors have been brought in to deactivate the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems.

Spevak described the extensive preparation involved: “Our crew is busy clearing areas and securing the ship. Moving a battleship, particularly one that’s been stationary for decades, involves considering wind, weather, and tides.”

A significant moment for the towing operation leader Four tug boats will be responsible for towing the Battleship New Jersey.

Joseph Benton from McAllister Towing of Philadelphia, who will oversee the towing, explained, “The ship is effectively a ‘dead ship’ without its own propulsion. The tug boats will substitute for the ship’s engine and rudder.”

For Benton, this operation is a remarkable return to a past endeavor. He was the captain of one of the tug boats that initially brought the battleship to Camden.

Benton reflected, “It’s certainly full circle. Being in charge of the tow two decades later is quite incredible.”