Another Year, Down the Tubes...

Rich Thrash, Brass Team Volunteer


Well, here I am, starting off what I'm calling the Fall Edition of The Jerseyman with an apology to y'all for it coming out late again. I realize this has become the norm since I took over this newsletter from Tom, but I just have too many things going on at once, all vying for that finite amount of time available in a day. But here it is, a new issue of The Jerseyman, just in time for the holidays! This issue contains articles on events from June through November and also features a host of items available from the Ships Store that would be perfect for that Battleship Sailor on your holiday shopping list. Please take a look and see if there isn't something there that interests you, and remember that the proceeds from sales at the Ships Store go to the ongoing restoration and maintenance of the Battleship, a cause that is near and dear to all of us. I can't say enough about how happy I am with our new Challenge Coin, it turned out great, and it would make a great stocking stuffer for sure!


Its that time of year again when we all sit back and assess the past year and tally up the plusses and minuses to see how it shakes out. The title of this piece is a perhaps a little misleading though, I actually have a much more positive opinion of the accomplishments made in 2014 than it suggests. This year I have witnessed a dramatic turn around in the ships operations and seen first-hand what's possible when funding is available to do the things that need to be done. 


As Saturday volunteers me and the rest of the Brass Team have plenty to do polishing the brass along the tour routes and preparing for the opening of new areas of the ship. That has pretty much been our mission for the last 13 plus years, and it will continue to be our mission going forward, but in 2014 we discovered new ways to get involved. Partnering with our fellow Saturday volunteers in the Radio Club we've become a formidable force that has taken on several high profile projects and pulled them off successfully. Phil has also played an integral role on these successes, he is turning into a regular Saturday volunteer coming in to lend a hand.


I'm very proud of the successful fund raising campaign we had this Summer which enabled us to buy two new sets of signal flags to dress the ship. Raising the money was only the beginning, then we had to buy the flags and actually hoist them on the wires. It was a learning process but after just a few hoists we have it down to an art. Next came the idea to light the ship for the holidays and then hoist all white lights on the wires the rest of the year. You can see the results of that idea a little further down this page in the photo of the ship all lit up for the holidays.


Polishing the same pieces of brass for 13 plus years gets boring, but we do it because we want visitors to see the ship the way the crew would have kept her, with the bright work shining. But the projects we took on this year were a great diversion to break up the monotony. It's a nice break to take on something different and having the results there for all to see and enjoy.


On the other side of the coin the big minus for me this year was a short hospital stay followed by an out patient prostate reduction surgery in September. That was an eye opening experience for me, it took away a lot of that invincibility that I had felt up until then and gave me a much different outlook on life. The surgery went well and I feel fine now, but there are still lingering issues that I will be dealing with for the foreseeable future.


In closing I just want to thanks to each and every one of our Saturday volunteers who have participated in our numerous new projects this year. Y'all are a great bunch of guys with a positive can do attitude to get the job done, even if it's a job we've never done before, like hoisting signal flags and friendship lights. Most of all, thanks for bring my friend, that means a lot after what I've been through this year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

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2014, the Year in Review

Phil Rowan, Executive Director & CEO, Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial


We have had a great 2014 at the Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial. The museum has now been open for 13 years on the Camden Waterfront and is doing better than ever. Our financial resources have stabilized and our revenues are increasing. We have completed several restoration and improvement projects on the ship, pier and landside area, which you will read about in this issue.


In May we received a major grant to be used for marketing, starting to restore the teak deck and the painting of the exterior of the ship. The marketing funding was used to advertise the programs of the ship on radio, television and print advertising. We have hired a contractor to begin the teak deck restoration project.  The 03 port side deck is nearing completion. Members of District 711 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades painted the visible hull of the ship. The Sherwin Williams Company of Cleveland, Ohio supplied the paint for the project. We are also completing the starboard side of the superstructure now and will complete the port side next spring. 


In July, we raised the friendship flags on the ship as part of our Dress the Ship project, the funding of which was raised by a fundraising effort by our volunteers and staff. We are now replacing the flags with holiday lighting. In January, we will hoist white lights to on top of the static lines of the ship to make the New Jersey more prominent in Independence Harbor on the Delaware River.


Also in July, we purchased 1.8 acres of waterfront land from the state so that we control the property near the pier that leads to the ship. We have been leasing this land from the state and were not sure of the future access to this key area near the ship. 


As part of our fundraising effort, we have established a foundation, the Battleship New Jersey Foundation, which will focus on raising funds for the operation of the museum and restoration of the ship. One of the first fundraising efforts includes providing a beautiful art glass sculpture of the ship that rests on a piece of the historic deck of the battleship. It comes in a decorated box and is available for a donation of $250 or more. See details on this unique keepsake in this issue of The Jerseyman on Page 7.


In July, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection awarded another $1.4M grant to the museum to help pay for our operating expenses for the upcoming year. These funds will be used to pay our $700,000 annual electric bill, our property and liability insurance and help pay for a portion of our personnel costs. This is the second straight year that we have received this level and funding and we are hopeful that the State of New Jersey will continue to support the operating of the Battleship New Jersey on the Camden Waterfront. 


We are now working on securing the funding to complete the final major area of the tour of the Battleship, The Engineering Spaces. We need to raise $500,000 for the cleanup, construction of safety railings and platforms and the installation and restoration of interactive elements to bring the boiler and engine rooms to life. The concept of this tour will be to get the ship underway in a very interactive method. We believe our guests will truly enjoy their experience in this area of the ship, particularly young guests. Combining a walk down Broadway, which we opened in the spring, with the tour of the engineering spaces will create a reason for guests to visit the Battleship and for previous guests to return.


Up on deck, we have added two replicas of the .50 caliber machine guns that were on the decks in the 1980s. The ship had eight of these machine guns and we are working on finding the stands and raising the funds to install six more of these guns on the gunnels of the main deck. 


Our major focus now turns to raising the $8M to completely replace all of the old teak decking with new two-inch thick teak planks. So far, our Dollars for the Decks campaign has raised $250,000 and counting. The goal is to replace all of the teak decking restoring all planked areas to match exactly how they were when the ship was donated to us by the U.S. Navy. We are currently working on a statewide, and national grassroots effort to raise the funds needed to complete this project before the ship’s diamond anniversary (75th) of her commissioning into the U.S. Navy, on May 23, 1943. So by May of 2018, her decks will be looking fantastic.


The final major project of the museum board is to raise the $22M to dry dock the ship. This dry-docking, which is planned to occur prior to 2020, will extend the life of the ship for another 30 years. We plan to clean and inspect the entire underwater hull of the ship in 2015 and prepare the plan for the dry docking work. You will be hearing more on this project in upcoming editions of The Jerseyman.


On a personal note, I was elected as a Director of the Historic Naval Ships Association (HNSA) in September. I look forward to serving this outstanding international organization in their efforts in preserving naval history for all to experience.


In closing, I want to thank all of our staff, volunteers, trustees, members, guests and supporters for making this year a very successful one.  Have a great holiday season and a successful 2015.


Editors Note: I wanted to take this opportunity to say I think Phil has done an outstanding job since taking over as CEO in early 2012. We had a great year in 2014 and the outlook for the future of the Battleship is very bright. I've had the opportunity to work with him directly on numerous projects this year and his dedication to the ship, and making her look better, is second to none. He was there that Saturday in late March, helping the Saturday volunteers make repairs to all six of the lines and pulleys from the gaffs on the Radar Platform so we could fly the ensign from there again. He was there on several Saturdays in late June helping the Saturday gang hoist our new signal flags for the first time on the fore and aft wires. Then, on three consecutive Saturdays in early November, he was there again, helping the volunteers hoist the signal flags for Veterans Day, then bring them down and hoist holiday lights on the fore and aft wires, and then finally decorating the large discone antenna on the bow for the holidays. He is a very hands on CEO, and the ship has benefited greatly from that approach. Below are several photos of the projects I mentioned, some showing him in action working with the Saturday gang. Bravo Zulu Phil, proud to have you as a fellow Saturday volunteer!


Ensign flying from the Radar Platform, March 22, 2014.

Helping hoist our brand new signal flags, June 21, 2014.
Helping decorate the ship for Freedom Week with
Red, White and Blue bunting, June 28, 2014.
A dramatic shot of the Battleship all lit up for the holidays,
November 22, 2014.  Damn she looks good, we did an
outstanding job, thanks to everyone who helped.

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Curator's Corner

Jason Hall, Vice President, Curatorial Affairs, Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial


These are exciting, and very busy, times curatorial-wise for the Battleship! From August 11-17 the BB-62 Sea Cadet Division hosted a weeklong Shipboard Training exercise onboard the Battleship. Sea Cadets from different divisions around the country spent the week onboard the ship participating in numerous activities that taught them about life onboard a naval vessel. Volunteers Ken Kersch and Paul Niessner taught the Cadets about several aspects of the Battleship including the engineering spaces, Machine Shop, and the five inch gun mounts. In addition, I gave multiple Turret II Experience tours, regular tours, and led the Sea Cadets on a day trip to Philadelphia with highlights including visits to the USS Olympia and USS Becuna, the National Constitution Center, and the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. All Cadets, officers and instructors had an incredible experience during the entire Shipboard Training exercise.


The long over-due Vietnam exhibit is finally nearing installation. In the spring we hired Greg Ferrara as a Tour Guide. Since completing his training, Greg, who possesses a Master’s Degree in Museum Exhibit Design, has utilized his knowledge and experience in spearheading the completion of the text and panel drafts for the Vietnam exhibit which have now been sent to the fabricator. We hope to have all materials to the ship by October 10 which will provide us with four weeks to install everything with the anticipated opening date of November 11, Veteran’s Day.


Another exhibit that should be completed shortly will focus on the legacy of the local shipbuilding industry.  Leslie Watson, the Battleship’s part-time Registrar, is working on a collaborative temporary exhibit with the Camden Shipyard & Maritime Museum (CSMM), to be displayed onboard the Battleship. Leslie is the Director of the CSMM, and the exhibit will include items from both the collections of the Battleship and the CSMM. The purpose of this exhibit is not only to showcase artifacts related to the shipbuilding legacy of Camden, but to increase the bond between the two institutions. This will prove to be a wonderful project for the Camden community to be proud of. The exhibit is expected to open in early September.


In November 2013, I was able to acquire two pedestal mounts from Naval Sea Systems Command. During the 1980s the Battleship had eight such mounts, each with a .50 caliber “Ma Deuce” machine gun. In late August Larry Hennessey and John Grant installed the two mounts on the forecastle. We are currently in the process of acquiring two .50 cal gun barrels to be placed in the mounts. In addition, it is hoped that in the future we can add sound effects so when guests pull the trigger they will hear recorded sounds of the guns firing. These two new additions will definitely help to enhance our guest’s experience! I am hopeful that in time we will be able to replace all eight Ma Deuce gun mounts on the ship.


Over a decade ago, around 2001 or so, the Battleship was given ownership of a WWII Japanese periscope that had been on display for years at Edmund Optics in Barrington, NJ. Since that time, the periscope has been forgotten and sitting in storage at Young’s Brothers Rigging Co. in May’s Landing, NJ. We are in the process of arranging to have the periscope transported to us where we plan on installing it inside the Visitor’s Center. There it would be available for all guests, especially our younger visitors, to look at the Battleship through a WWII Japanese submarine’s periscope!


We are currently in talks with Osprey Publishing looking into potentially producing a souvenir book on the history of the Battleship. Osprey is world renown for their outstanding military history books. It is planned that the book would include never before published images and oral histories from the Battleship’s vast collections. Not only would we be able to sell the planned Battleship New Jersey book in the Battleshop, but Osprey would also sell it internationally as well as provide it in a digital format that would make the book available on Kindle, Nook and on the Apple iStore. 


The Battleship’s Visitor’s Center may play host to a temporary exhibit that was built by staff and students of Philadelphia University focused on the assignation of President John F. Kennedy. The exhibit, titled Single Bullet, highlights the role of Arlen Specter in the Warren Commission investigation of the assassination. The exhibit has been on exhibit at the university’s library since October 21, 2013 and is slated to be removed this fall. Originally funded by a grant from PNC, it was the inaugural exhibition of the Arlan Specter Center for Public Service at Philadelphia University. The following is from the university’s website:


a transdisciplinary team of Philadelphia University students, faculty and staff conceived of, designed, fabricated and installed this exhibition to showcase U.S. Senator Arlen Specter's seminal role in the Warren Commission investigation of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.


The exhibition coincides with the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination and depicts Senator Specter's selection, participation and unique contributions to the Warren Commission's activities and final report, with special attention focused on his "single bullet theory or conclusion."


Produced during the academic year 2012 - 2013, this transdisciplinary project is the result of active collaboration featuring Philadelphia University's three colleges–College of Architecture and the Built Environment; Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce; College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts–with additional support from members of the Paul J. Gutman Library and The Design Center at Philadelphia University.


The exhibition includes several modular displays and text panels, the highlight of which is a full scale replica of the car Kennedy was in when he was killed. We are currently assessing which items will fit into the Visitor Center in order to determine if we can accept the exhibit for a maximum time period of two years.


As previously stated, and as you can see above, it is a very busy and highly productive time for the Battleship. Thank you to all of you, volunteers and staff, who have enabled us to do so much and continue to grow and enhance the curatorial aspects of the Battleship!


Editors Note: A number of the things Jason talks about in his article above as "coming up" have actually been completed, this is due to my delay in getting this issue out. Below are several photos showing some of those items in their completed state, my apologies for any confusion.    


The long-awaited "A Dreadnought in Vietnam" exhibit opened
onboard the Battleship on November 22nd featuring some really
cool items, including many never before on display to the public.

The exhibit space is located on Deck 2, just forward
of the Turret #1 barbette. It is open to anyone
who purchases a ticket to tour the ship.
The temporary Camden Shipyard & Maritime Museum
exhibit that Jason mentioned is now open on the Battleship.
It is located on the main deck just outside the Radio Room.
The exhibit features numerous models of ships built at the shipyard,
and is also
open to anyone who purchases a ticket to tour the ship.
Larry Hennessey and John Grant installing the starboard
.50 Caliber “Ma Deuce” Machine Gun Mount.

Here is the finished starboard side mount, with barrel in place.

Here is the portside mount, and as you can
see they provide a great photo op for our guests.
That's my buddy Rolland squeezing of a few test rounds.

This is the Japanese submarine periscope we plan to install in the
Visitors Center. It looks to be in good shape, can't wait to see it in place!

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