Rival conservation groups in tug of war over historic battleship
The New Jersey, the most decorated battleship in U.S. history, is facing its biggest fight outside war: to pay its bills and fend off attempts to move it from Camden to North Jersey.
State officials are reviewing the finances of the museum ship’s operator, the Home Port Alliance, as it struggles to repay $900,000 remaining on a $1 million bank loan from 2003.
The alliance is also battling efforts by the USS New Jersey Battleship Foundation to move the ship to Liberty State Park, with the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan skyline, and Ellis Island as the backdrop.
“She’s not going anywhere,” said Philip Rowan, who took over last month from Jim Schuck as CEO of the Home Port Alliance. “I’ll use the line that Charlton Heston used: ‘They’ll take it from my cold, dead hands.’”
“We have a contract with the Navy, and they’re happy with what we’re doing here,” the Camden native said. “Our inspection reports are top-notch, and the ship is open to the public.”
But Christopher von Zwehl, president of the USS New Jersey Battleship Foundation, said his nonprofit was working to raise $15 million from donors to dredge a site at Liberty State Park and move the ship there.