Dave Ratcliffe has been a volunteer on the Battleship New Jersey since 2001. His wife, Sue, is also a volunteer. Both are long-time members of the Battleship’s Award Winning Brass Team. Dave, who lives in Bristol, PA, where he works at a large machine shop. He looks forward to the day when he can retire and go on a permanent ski vacation. In his spare time, he enjoys wood working, metal working and restoring cars, including his vintage Corvette and Volkswagen.
Over the years, Dave has taken on and completed some vital projects for the Battleship. Utilizing his wood working skills, he made new wood rub rails to replace the ones that were falling off the Admiral’s Barge. This included building up the wood sections, bending them to fit the curved shape of the bow, staining and sealing them, and then installing them. He install them from a barge hanging over the starboard side of the ship.
When the protective coating on the ships bell, located on the forecastle (forward deck), was failing and peeling off, Dave stripped the bell down to bare metal and then prepped and painted it so it could ring again. Last April, when the two Browning M2 .50 caliber machine guns on the forecastle needed to be refinished, Dave stepped up and arranged to have the them powder coated free of charge. He also made new charging handles for them to replace weathered wooden ones and made other safety related modifications to the guns themselves.
Most recently, Dave was instrumental in getting the ships whistle working again using compressed air. He and others worked on that project for almost a year, overcame numerous challenges, and on September 24, 2016 we were all rewarded with the sound of our whistle blowing again, after being silent for over 25 years.
Dave volunteered on the Battleship to honor the thousands of shipyard workers who worked hard under tough conditions to build and deliver the USS New Jersey for service during World War II. These workers are the unsung heroes of the Battleship. Dave enjoys the wide variety of projects he gets involved with on the Battleship and says that any day on the Battleship is a good day. He is a tremendous asset to the ship and we’re proud to name him our Volunteer of the Month, Bravo Zulu Dave!