Battleship New Jersey Will Be Available For Tours Through Labor Day, And Then Will Temporarily Close
U.S.S. New Jersey battles yet another enemy, COVID-19
(Camden, NJ) — Today, the Board of Trustees of the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial regretfully announces that the historic Naval ship moored on the Camden Waterfront will be available for public tours and events through Labor Day, and then will close until such time that the Board deems it viable to re-open.
Battleship New Jersey — the most decorated battleship in the 244-year history of the United States Navy — served in four wars and earned 19 Battle Stars during her many years of service. Retired from active duty for the last time in 1991, she now serves as an enduring museum and memorial on the Camden waterfront. Her presence honors those brave men and women who fought and served to protect and preserve our precious freedom.
This venerable warship is now in another battle, this time fighting an unseen enemy, COVID-19. The pandemic has resulted in the Battleship having to take drastic, but necessary measures to reduce the risk of spreading this deadly virus. Beginning in March 2020, the highly popular overnight encampment program was suspended along with all private events and public tours. The ship re-opened for tours in mid-June and has been operating under guidelines established by the New Jersey Department of Health and the CDC to help limit the spread of COVID-19. The tours have been conducted safely, but the volume of visitors has been much less than normal. As a result, the Board of Trustees has decided to suspend public tours and events after Labor Day to enable the Battleship to re-open once conditions have improved.
“We have been entrusted as stewards of this national icon, and it is our fiduciary responsibility to make sure that future generations can walk the decks of this hallowed warship,” said Marshall Spevak, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “By taking proactive action, the Board believes this temporary decision will result in a long-term benefit to the ship. Consequently, the Board has deemed it necessary to close until such time that we are able to resume more normal operations.”
“Over the past years, we have budgeted wisely, putting us in a financial position to weather any normal storm. However, COVID-19 has us facing challenges we could not have previously envisioned. With just a fraction of our normal revenue coming in daily, we can no longer continue to operate indefinitely at this level,” said Phil Rowan, the Battleship’s Executive Director, and CEO.
Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. Navy does not provide the Battleship with financial support. As a non-profit organization, the ship depends primarily on revenues it generates from tours, special events, and programs. The cancellation of these events and programs has resulted in significant financial losses. Assistance from the state, grants, and the generous gifts of benefactors have also been instrumental in helping to operate the Battleship as a world-class museum and memorial. However, given the current fiscal climate in the State of New Jersey, future state appropriations to support the ship are not guaranteed.
Persons seeking to tour the Battleship New Jersey are encouraged to visit through Labor Day, Monday, September 7, 2020. Following that, the ship will temporarily suspend operations until further notice. However, a small staff will remain, including a maintenance crew and 24-hour security to guard the ship. The Board of Trustees plans to reopen the Battleship as soon as the pandemic conditions have improved sufficiently.
“The Big-J will continue to rest majestically at her berth in Camden, tied to her pier on the Delaware River. For now, her decks will be vacant of tourists as her staff, and dedicated crew of volunteers awaits the day when we can return and re-open to the public,” said Navy Captain (Ret.) Walt Urban, Jr., who served on the Battleship while on active duty, and is a Trustee and the ship’s Military Liaison Officer.
To make a donation to help sustain the Battleship New Jersey during this period and ensure its future, please visit our website at www.battleshipnewjersey.org.