CAMDEN — The Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial will reopen Monday with initial tours limited to the outside decks, but parking will be free and tickets will be discounted to encourage visitors.
However, all tour guests must wear masks and have their temperatures taken to board the World War II-era ship, which later became the most decorated battleship in U.S. Navy history.
The battleship suspended all non-essential operations on March 16 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 just days before Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order. That forced the layoff of most of the ship’s 28 full-time and 60 part-time employees and the loss off thousands of dollars in revenue each day.
The museum board of trustees announced the opening shortly after receiving approval Saturday via email from Murphy’s office.
“We are thrilled to reopen our nation’s most decorated battleship and allow people to experience this national treasure,” said Marshall Spevak, board of trustees chairman.
“The well-being of our staff, volunteers, and guests remains paramount during this time, and with enhanced health screening measures, we’re proud to reopen in a safe, entertaining, and educational environment.”
“By offering a dynamic external tour, we’ll keep guests outside to avoid some of the tight interior compartments,” explained Phil Rowan, museum CEO and executive director.
“We hope to open additional interior spaces aboard the ship in the near future as the pandemic continues to subside and it’s deemed safer by the state of New Jersey.”
Meanwhile, the museum will operate with limited paid staff and without its bevy of volunteers until it can more fully operate with interior tours, overnight encampments and large-scale events, according to museum officials.
Tours will start every 15 minutes and will be limited to 10 people in order to allow guests to spread out along the tour route.
All guests must wear a face covering, practice social distancing of at least six feet and submit to a digital forehead touch-less thermometer in the visitor center before redeeming their ticket.
Rowan said the tour route and visitors center will be continuously cleaned and disinfected by the museum’s housekeeping personnel.
As a special thank you to the public for its patience in quarantining over the past few months, he said the battleship is offering complimentary parking in two areas — along Clinton Street inside the rear entrance to the museum complex and in the Wiggins Park Marina lot across from the Philadelphia 76ers Practice Facility.
Tours will be available daily from 10 a.m. with the last tour starting at 4 p.m.
Visitors are encouraged to purchase tour tickets online at www.battleshipnewjersey.org. Discounted tickets will be $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under, veterans and senior citizens. Tours will be limited to 10 people every 15 minutes, which will spread out guests along the tour route to make for a safer and socially distanced experience.
For more information, visit www.battleshipnewjersey.org or call 609-868-5664.
Carol Comegno loves telling stories about South Jersey history and our military veterans. Her book, “The Battleship USS New Jersey: From Birth to Berth” is the definitive history of the battleship. If you have a story to share, call her at 856-486-2473 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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