Fall 1998 Newsletter


The cities of Bayonne, Camden and Jersey City launched their own campaigns this summer to convince the USS New Jersey Battleship Commission to select their waterfront sites as the home of the "Big J," the most decorated warship in naval history.

It began at the Commission’s regular meeting July 8 at the landmark Central New Jersey Railroad Terminal in Liberty State Park. Officials from Bayonne, Camden and Jersey City (see Page 2, Summer BB Bulletin) made their first presentations to the Commission on why they believe the Battleship New Jersey belongs on their waterfronts. Representatives of the three cities invited the Commission to visit their respective waterfronts.

CamdenOn July 31, Commissioners arrived on that city’s waterfront along the lower Delaware River opposite Philadelphia. Camden officials took the 13 commissioners on a bus tour of the Philadelphia naval shipyard where the New Jersey was built at the outset of World War II. A riverboat tour was followed by a video highlighting several attractions along the Camden/Philadelphia waterfronts. Making presentations were State Senator John Matheussen (R-Camden), Camden Mayor Milton Milan (D), Camden County Freeholder Patricia Jones (D), and Joseph Balzano, executive director of the South Jersey Port Corporation who was recently appointed to the New Jersey Battleship Commission. Camden officials announced they would come up with $1 million from the city’s Empowerment Zone and $3.2 million from the county’s Improvement Authority to build docking facilities for the Battleship.

Jersey City – On August 7, Battleship Commissioners arrived at Liberty Science Center in Liberty State Park on the Jersey City waterfront. Mayor Brett Schundler showed the Commissioners a video overview, which was followed by presentation of a project proposal. Commissioners then took a boat tour of the Jersey City and neighboring Bayonne waterfronts on the New York Bay, an area known as the Gateway to America. The Mayor proposed to moor the ship about 800 feet into the New York Harbor between Ellis Island and New York City. Access to the ship would be on an 800-foot walkway that would also allow fishing on it. The elaborate mooring project would cost over $10 million, most of which would have to be financed. The Mayor announced Jersey City would come up with $1 million.

Bayonne – On September 3, commissioners met at Bayonne City Hall, where newly elected Mayor Joseph Doria made a video presentation tracing Bayonne's maritime history, including the berthing of the New Jersey Battleship at the Bayonne Military Ocean Terminal (MOT) after both World War II and the Korean War. Commissioners took a bus tour of the city’s residential neighborhoods, hosted by the Mayor. Commissioners then viewed the entire two-mile length of the Military Terminal, a former naval supply base operating during World War II and the Korean War. MOT (435 acres) has the only dock on the New Jersey waterfront presently capable of berthing a vessel the size and weight of a world-class battleship. Bayonne is making the nearly 1,800-foot-long dockside pier available to the New Jersey for $1 a year. In 1996, then Mayor Leonard Kiczek offer the Bayonne dockside site to the Commission. At that time, no other sites were vying for the battleship. The value of this military dock site exceeds $12 million. Not having to build a secure dock would save the Battleship Foundation several million dollars. Bayonne has obtained a commitment through Hudson County to give the Battleship Foundation $1 million for dockside improvements. In addition, the dock has ample parking space for about 700 autos alongside the ship. This readily available pier is in the center of the most populated region in the Northeast, with more than 22 million residents in the Metropolitan New York Tri-State Region.


Congress responded to the Battleship Commission this year by releasing the "Big J" to her namesake state. The House voted to release the New Jersey 357 to 60 on May 21. The Senate passed its BB bill June 25 by an 88-4 vote. Then the bills went to the House-Senate Conference Committee to be merged as one "report" (amendment) to the Authorization Act. The final vote on the conference report was: House – 373-50 (Sept. 24), and Senate – 97-2 (Oct. 1).

At the request of the Commission Chairman Joe Azzolina and Governor Christie Whitman, the New Jersey Congressional Delegation led the charge on Capitol Hill. The leadership included Rep. Michael Pappas (R-Central NJ) in the House with support from Rep. Jim Saxton (R-South Jersey); a member of the National Security Committee, and New Jersey’s two U.S. Senators, Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Torricelli, both Democrats. The Congressional Delegation received the full support of thousands of NJ Battleship friends in New Jersey, Washington and around the nation.


Battleship Commissioners met at the State House in Trenton on September 10, to cast their long-awaited votes. It was an open, public meeting under the State’s "Sunshine Law."

The 13 commissioners and one liaison from a state agency (The Department of Environmental Protection) each voted and explained their positions as the most suitable site. Prior to the vote, there were summary statements on each alternative site from several commissioners.

The final vote was 8 for Bayonne, 4 for Jersey City, 1 for Camden, and 1 abstention.

New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman maintained the same position throughout the long site-selection process: That she would accept the Commission’s site selection. As evidenced by the invitations from the three waterfront cities (Bayonne, Camden, Jersey City), the Commission is the official State body responsible for selecting the most suitable site and bringing the New Jersey back home, as authorized by the State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Brendan T. Byrne in 1980. Whitman became Governor in 1993.

Commissioners supporting Bayonne cited their reasons for voting for Bayonne, including immediate pier availability, parking right alongside the ship, easy access directly from the New Jersey Turnpike, the major feeder artery for other state and interstate highways in the Northeast; a tourist market for more than 22 million people, financing, and security/safety of both the ship and around 400,000 paying visitors a year.


The House National Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Research, Development and Acquisitions, conducted an informational, fact-finding hearing October 8 to learn about the

Navy’s process of releasing battleships to their namesake states or nonprofit organizations seeking such naval acquisitions. At the meeting were representatives from the Battleship New Jersey Commission, the City of Camden, the Intrepid Air & Sea Museum on New York’s Hudson waterfront, and the U.S. Navy.

The purpose of the congressional hearing was to discuss the Battleship Commission’s site selection process that led to the 8-4-1-1 vote for the Bayonne Military Ocean Terminal.

Two New Jersey Republican Congressmen – Jim Saxton from South Jersey, and Mike Pappas from Central New Jersey – are members of the Subcommittee.

Before the hearing got under way, Congressmen Saxton, Pappas and Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Subcommittee Chairman, praised Battleship Commission Chairman Joe Azzolina for working some 20 years to secure the release of the New Jersey.

Congressmen Pappas and Saxton commended Retired Navy Captain Azzolina for holding a steady course for two decades while bringing about the release of the New Jersey. The subcommittee members credited Azzolina for coordinating the statewide effort leading to the battleship’s release by Congress this year.

The first to speak before the Subcommittee was New Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews, a Democrat representing the Camden area.

"I will disclose my bias from the outset," Andrews began his prepared statement. "The City of Camden is the right place for the berthing" of the ship, citing the fact that BB-62 was built in the Philadelphia Navy Yard across the Delaware River from Camden. Saxton echoed Andrew’s sentiments, calling Camden "a very suitable location."

Next to speak was Battleship Commission Chairman Joe Azzolina, a Navy Captain (Ret.). Reading from his prepared statement, the chairman stated that "We are before this congressional subcommittee today to make sure that the Battleship New Jersey goes to the most suitable site on the New Jersey waterfront. This mighty warrior deserves nothing less than our very best cooperative efforts," Azzolina stressed that the New Jersey "must go to where it’s best for the ship."

Pappas, a key committee player, led the House efforts for releasing the battleship to the State of New Jersey. Pappas said he was concerned that any "differences of opinion" over where the ship goes in New Jersey could hurt efforts to bring the ship to the State.

The next speaker at the congressional hearing was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the

Navy Michael C. Hammes, who spelled out the procedures for the Navy’s Ship Donation Program.

The Battleship Commission submitted its original application to the Navy in 1995, designating Liberty State Park as the battleship site. The Commission changed it to the Bayonne Military Ocean Terminal in 1996 because of the immediate availability of a dock at no cost to the State. The costs of dredging and infrastructure construction were prohibitive at Liberty State Park – in the $30 million range.

The fourth and final speaker before the House Subcommittee was retired Major General Donald Gardner, president of the Intrepid Museum. His testimony was based on the operation of the Intrepid (aircraft carrier) Museum on New York’s Hudson River.

As a result of the congressional hearing requested by Camden to submit its own application to the Navy, the arrival of the New Jersey to her home state faces a delay of an additional year. Camden's action has, in effect, restarted the lengthy site-selection process. This means the 8 million residents of New Jersey will have to wait about 12 to 18 months to enjoy the ship’s Educational Museum on the state’s waterfront.

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u The Bulletin distribution networks encompass radio, public and cable television, state and national veterans groups, daily and weekly newspapers, chambers of commerce, state media, state professional and trade associations, over 1000 union units, local and county governments, 50 plus libraries, ELKS lodges, and New Jersey state and national government representatives. Recent additions are Battleship and Aircraft Carrier Associations; the membership of the Battleship New Jersey Veterans, Inc.; state ROTC units, and State historical societies.

u License Plate sales should pass the 10,000 mark in October! The sale of a license plate means that $38 of the $50 purchase price goes to the Foundation as well as the $15 dollars per year for the annual renewal. Promotional material is located in the MVA sites and displayed on outdoor Battleship billboards. Plate application forms for direct mail-in may be obtained from the Foundation office. How about a set of license plates as a Christmas gift? Its easy to obtain, seen every day, and doesn't wear out!

u Significant recent contributions were $1000 from the Ingersoll-Rand Company and $1000 from the Watchung ELKS Lodge # 2252. .

u When making a contribution remember to send in the forms required if your employer has a matching grant program.

u Resolutions of support for the return of the New Jersey to its namesake state and the establishment of an Education Museum have been received from 323 local governments and 18 of 21 county governments. The resolution also includes the support of the license plate sales, income tax checkoff, and direct contributions program.

u The ELKS of New Jersey Ton of Pennies (TOP) program is focusing on the collection of filled containers to support the fund raising activities of the 130-plus lodges. The ELKS are also in evidence at a wide variety of activities involving special events, shows, schools, and parades throughout the state. An excellent organization effort!

u The IBEW Local # 164 in Bayonne has sent a letter to the Foundation indicating their support and interest in participating in the electrical renovation activities upon the ship's return. Thanks for being the first to join the team!

u Foundation appearances included Army Retirees Day, Fort Monmouth; Navy League, Atlantic Highlands; Fanwood Day, Fanwood; Fifty Plus Regional Show, Toms River; Tall Ships, Highlands; Wooden Boat Festival, Toms River; Monmouth County Fair, Freehold; Alexandria Balloon Festival, Pittstown; Keansburg Automobile Show, Keansburg, Navy League, Trenton; presentation of Battleship New Jersey print to Pemberton Township by a DAV representative, Pemberton; and Colts Neck Country Fair, Colts Neck.

u The Foundation was represented at the State Convention of the New Jersey Funeral Directors Association on September 14-16 at Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. The purpose was to introduce a Remembrance Area program that will be a part of the Educational Museum once the ship returns home. Mr. Tom Sheenen, a past president of the Association, proposed this program. The Foundation booth provided information on the proposal for convention attendees and solicited comments/suggestions. The program was also discussed in the convention sessions and received endorsement of the Association. The basic concept is that a contribution of one hundred dollars in the name of a deceased veteran or contributions to the Foundation in lieu of flowers at a service will result in the veteran's name being displayed in a Remembrance Area associated with the Battleship Museum. This area will be established after the ship's arrival at a designated site in New Jersey. The most probable format will be an information system that incorporates a veteran's name, branch and dates of service and expandable to include organizations/ship, theater of service, awards and decorations. An information package with supporting material is being assembled for Funeral Director use.

u Information regarding the Battleship program is being distributed via radio, television, local and daily papers, as well as organization publications such as the Army Retirees newsletter from Fort Monmouth, Fraternal Order of Police, Battleship New Jersey Veterans Inc, etc. If you have an organization or contact that should be added to the Bulletin distribution please contact the Foundation office by phone, e-mail, or fax.

u Foundation representatives manned the 50/50 raffle at the Trenton Thunder on August 12 and generated over $500 for the Bring Me Home campaign. The Foundation and supporting ROTC units will be scheduled for next season with the game and the 50/50 raffle dedicated to the Battleship. Contacts with other minor league clubs will be made shortly to extend the Trenton Thunder initiative across the state.

u Representatives of the Commemorative Sales program participated in the NJ Department of Tourism display at the Molly Pitcher rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. The Elks float; the sales tent, displays, and sales material were available.

u A Battleship New Jersey FLAGS color guard from the Rahway Marine JrROTC unit was present for MIA/POW/Gold Star Mothers Day activities at the New Jersey Vietnam Memorial on September 18. Representatives of the Foundation presented a remembrance wreath from the Battleship New Jersey, the only battleship to serve in Vietnam. The FLAGS ACROSS AMERICA standards were also flown on the same day.

u The Scotch Plains-Fanwood AFJrROTC presented the colors for the opening of the New Jersey Vietnam Educational Museum on September 27, 1998. This Museum, the first in the nation dedicated to the Vietnam conflict, provides a powerful and well-balanced coverage. In combination with the adjacent Memorial it is an excellent learning and remembrance experience. The basis of a cooperative and supportive Educational program between the established Vietnam Center and the future Battleship New Jersey Educational Museum is being developed.

u The elements of a cooperative educational program were developed with the Aviation Hall of Fame Museum located at the Teterboro Airport. This organization was the first state aviation museum in the nation and is chartered by the New Jersey Legislature. Representatives of the Foundation were in attendance at the Open Cockpit Day on October 17, 1998.

u Commander Tom Gorman appreciated the response to the Summer Bulletin request for volunteers to support the ship's return, renovation, and start up activities. Keep the help-available letters coming and join the crew.

u The Foundation is seeking veterans who served on the USS New Jersey who would be interested in speaking to student groups about their experiences. The interest level in the New Jersey and an Educational Museum is growing at a fast pace. As an example, Mr. Frank Yusko the History Club sponsor at Spotswood High School has generated a program focused on the Battleship New Jersey including a fund-raising campaign. Two veterans, one from WWII and one from the Vietnam era, will share their experiences with the Club members and guests, be videotaped, and become the first members of the Foundation program to preserve Veterans stories. A great and rewarding opportunity to share today with the leaders of tomorrow.

u The Battleship New Jersey Commemorative Sales program announced in the Summer issue has been well received. This program is operated by Bill and Carol Sheppard of Fanwood who have made appearances and presentations at a wide variety of events throughout the state promoting the Foundation as well as direct and mail sales. The objective is a sales program focused on a limited number of promotional materials as well as an initial evaluation of what the customer wants. Thanks to the Sheppards for the effort and just as important, the large number of contacts they have made to extend the overall scope of the grass-roots support.

u The communication networks have been consolidated to eliminate duplicate mailings. We request that change of address information be directed to the Foundation Office.

u Please feel free to make copies of the Bulletin to pass along to friends and associates. The purpose is to increase the number of individuals and organizations involved.

u Displays of information regarding the Battleship program are beginning to be seen in local libraries throughout the state. Stop by your local library and give them some encouragement!

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