Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig announced today that the battleship New Jersey will be donated to Home Port Alliance, Camden, N.J. The fiscal year 1999 Defense Authorization Act required that the Secretary of the Navy transfer the vessel to a qualified organization in accordance with 10 USC Section 7306 and as a condition of the transfer that the vessel be located in the state of New Jersey.
The Navy is gratified that the battleship will be located in its namesake state, where it will be displayed in remembrance of the valiant service of its crew and as a testimonial to the tireless efforts of the men and women who built and maintained it.
The Navy received two applications for donation of the New Jersey from qualified organizations (the USS New Jersey Battleship Commission and the Home Port Alliance) located in Bayonne and Camden, N.J., respectively. Applicants, with strong support from their respective localities, worked extremely hard in developing comprehensive plans to operate and maintain the museum in a manner celebrating the New Jersey's rich history. The patriotic expressions and grass roots campaigns, coupled with the strong support from the public, local officials and members of Congress were both gratifying and impressive.
A Navy team conducted a structured, impartial, objective, and comprehensive review, evaluating both applications under the Navy's published criteria (financial, technical, and curatorial benefit to the Navy and community). Only after a detailed evaluation of all these factors did Danzig reach his decision to award the ship to the Home Port Alliance.
The Home Port Alliance application included a comprehensive plan of exhibit design and curator organization at a site that is a developed waterfront location with cultural and tourist attractions. Additionally, they added a proposal for a detailed Navy recruiting plan at no cost to the Navy.
The Navy donates ships as a way of preserving naval history and tradition, educating the public, and commemorating the men and women who built and sailed these vessels. There are currently 45 museum ships displayed across the country in 21 states. More Americans visit these museum ships than all other Navy-run museums. These museums give the general public the rare opportunity to experience and imagine shipboard life, first hand. Additionally, they learn about naval tradition and history and commemorate the men and women who built and sailed these vessels.
The proposed transfer is subject to the completion of all required actions preceding a donation contract between the Navy and the Home Port Alliance.
Although the Navy did not select the application submitted by the USS New Jersey Battleship Commission, which intended to display the ship in Bayonne, the Navy would like to acknowledge the important contributions of this organization and its chairman, Joe Azzolina. Azzolina has worked successfully over the last 20 years to gain public and congressional support and raise funds on behalf of the state of New Jersey. His personal quest and patriotic efforts have been instrumental in bringing the battleship to the state.
The public support and interest in the battleship New Jersey's return have been outstanding. The Navy is very confident that the New Jersey will be well cared for and revered in its new berth on the Delaware River in Camden.
Further questions may be addressed to the Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs Office at (703) 602-1556.