“New Jerseyans on the Big J”

by Press Release-Battleship New Jersey | Aug 14, 2005
“New Jerseyans on the Big J” The Battleship New Jersey opened its newest exhibit – “New Jerseyans on the Big J” -- as well as showcased the recently refurbished Kaman SH-2F Seasprite Helicopter to the public on August 11.

“The New Jerseyans on the Big J” exhibit, chronicles the strong ties between the Battleship New Jersey and the residents of the Garden State,” cited Troy Collins, CEO and President of the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial. “The exhibit will feature various multi-media and static displays to depict how citizens of New Jersey helped construct, serve on, restore and today preserve our nation’s most decorated battleship.”

At the core of this exhibit are digitally-videotaped oral histories specifically commissioned for use in this exhibit. The Battleship’s Curatorial and Education Department documented the lives of ten ordinary New Jerseyans who proudly served on, and today help to restore and preserve, the “Big J.” These oral histories are supplemented with text, graphics and a growing collection of photographs, career records, correspondence, personal diaries, periodicals, uniforms, contemporary music, newscasts, and other supporting artifacts.

“It was due to the unique investment of time and labor from citizens of the Garden State that the USS New Jersey was built so quickly and so well at the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard over 60 years ago,” said John J. Matheussen, CEO of the Delaware River Port Authority and co-chair of the Battleship New Jersey Board of Trustees. “It is exciting that we can now highlight many New Jerseyans in this exhibit and showcase their efforts to Battleship visitors from around the world.”

“From the women welders who built this amazing vessel to the female staff and volunteers who currently provide guided tours to our guests, its fantastic to see the women from New Jersey featured in this unique attraction,” added Patricia Egan Jones, Surrogate of Camden County and co-chair of the Battleship’s Board of Trustees. “This display features and memorializes the tremendous efforts performed by citizens throughout the state for the Big J and our great nation.”

The New Jerseyans on the Big J oral histories are the foundation of the six “stations” within this exhibit, corresponding to specific periods in the Battleship’s history: 1940-1943: Construction; 1943-1945: World War II; 1950-1957: Korea and the Cold War; 1968-1969: Vietnam; 1981-1991: Ending the Cold War; 2001-Present: Museum. New Jerseyans in each of these eras tell how their lives were touched in various ways by the New Jersey. Museum visitors will also learn about the political, social and technological changes that affected the ethnic and racial makeup of the Battleship New Jersey’s crew over her five decades of service.

The Battleship also added a 53-foot Seasprite Helicopter, now part of the Battleship’s Firepower Tour. The Seasprite was used on the USS New Jersey from 1977 – 1991 for mid-course anti-ship missile guidance, anti-submarine warfare and gunnery spotting for the ship’s 16” guns. This deployment included operations off Lebanon at the time of the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut.

The Battleship New Jersey’s “New Jerseyans on the Big J” was funded by an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State, and a donation by the New Jersey State Elks Association.

Located on the Camden Waterfront across the river from Center City Philadelphia the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial offers guided and self-guided tours daily, beginning at 9 a.m. with the last tour departing at 5 p.m. Now guests can enjoy a cold beer, a glass of wine or even a margarita after their tour at the new Black Dragon Bar, located on the ship’s fantail (rear deck) and open Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to daytime tours, families and youth groups can spend the night aboard the Battleship as part of the overnight encampment program. Guests experience dinner and breakfast served from the chow line in the crew’s mess, a tour of the ship, a ride on the 4D flight simulator and the opportunity to sleep in the bunks that the crew of the USS New Jersey once did. Special group packages and event/meeting space are available. For more information, call (856) 966-1652 or visit www.battleshipnewjersey.org.

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Author: Press Release-Battleship New Jersey

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