Despite my wanderings to fifteen different states, this blog’s home has always been New Jersey. Although there have been trips to the Midwest, the southern Atlantic states, and New England, the Garden State has been the focus of many of my journeys. Atlantic City, Batsto, Wheaton Village, Cape May, Sea Girt, Barnegat, and Wildwood, among others, this blog has focused much of its attention upon my home state. It seems fitting, then, that my final post in New Jersey would be to the Battleship New Jersey.
I recently accepted a job offer in New England, which means DH and I will be relocating and leaving New Jersey. With one last free Saturday before my life is consumed with packing boxes, running errands, and preparing to move several hundred miles away, I decided to take a journey to one of the most famous museum ships on the East Coast.
A member of the Iowa-class fast battleships, the USS New Jersey (BB-62) was commissioned in 1943. The ship is 880 feet long, 108 feet wide, and weighs 58,000 tons. Among the most powerful warships at the time of her construction, the New Jersey’s primary armament are nine 16″ guns, mounted in three turrets (two forward, one aft). Able to hurl shells that weigh as much as a Volkswagen Beetle up to 24 miles away, the Iowa-class were designed to attack enemy battleships, as well as to bombard coastal targets on land. At the time of her construction, the New Jersey also held twenty 5″ guns mounted in ten turrets around the middle of the ship, to attack aircraft and smaller vessels, and the ship also had a number of machine guns. With all this firepower, the New Jersey was designed to help control the oceans. The armor protecting the ship is solid steel, covering every vital space of the ship, with armor thickness ranging from 7 inches to over 2 feet thick! All of this weight comes at a price, however. The ship isn’t exactly fuel efficient: it takes 128 gallons of navy-grade fuel oil to move the ship 1 mile (as the docent on board told me: “It gets 128 gallons to the mile!”). Fortunately, it carries 2.4 million gallons of fuel, so trips to the gas station are few and far between.
The New Jersey saw combat action in the Second World war, the Korean war, and the Vietnam war. Decommissioned in 1969, the New Jersey sat in mothballs for years until a new threat emerged in the early 1980’s: the Soviet Navy’s Kirov-class battlecruiser. These new Russian vessels were the largest warships afloat (excluding aircraft carriers) with seemingly every inch of deck space covered with guns and missiles. Removing many of its antiquated weapons, the New Jersey and her sister ships were refitted, equipped with modern missiles and anti-missile systems in order to counter the new Soviet warships. Active in the US Navy once again from 1982-1990, the New Jersey saw over four decades of service before finally being decommissioned at the end of the Cold War. In 2001, the great ship returned to its home state, where it was converted into a museum ship in Camden, New Jersey (via Wikipedia).
To quote Steve Jobs: “But there’s one more thing.” Near the battleship is the Ben Franklin Bridge. A steel suspension bridge that opened in 1926, the Ben Franklin is one of the primary ways to cross the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. From 1926 to 1929, the Ben Franklin’s 1,750-foot long span was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Cars and trucks traverse it every day, as well as the PATCO light rail trains, which run along the outside of the bridge. Elevated pedestrian walkways are on both outer sides of the bridge, and today I decided to fight off my fear of heights and finally walk across the bridge. One small step for humankind, one giant leap for my acrophobia.
The Battleship New Jersey museum is open from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm May 1st – September 30th. During the fall, winter, and spring, it is open during weekends from 9:30 am – 3:00 pm. Self-guided tour tickets are $21.95 for adults, while seniors, veterans, and children ages 5-11 are $17.00, and children 4 and under can enter for free. While I will be leaving New Jersey in a few weeks, the Voyage of DH will most certainly continue, just in a new home state! I look forward to now taking the time to explore New England, and to bring you more adventures from the road. Thanks for coming along on yet another Voyage of DH, and stay tuned for more adventures!