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Battleship New Jersey moves to Paulsboro Marine Terminal for dry dock maintenance

Crowds gather to watch Battleship New Jersey move to Paulsboro Marine Terminal
Crowds gather to watch Battleship New Jersey move to Paulsboro Marine Terminal 03:24

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The nation's most decorated battleship is on the move. The Battleship New Jersey took off Thursday for historic dry dock maintenance for the first time in 30 years.

"It is historic! And I love it," Leo Kurth said while aboard the Spirit of Philadelphia. The 11-year-old drove 10 hours from North Carolina with his family to see history unfold on the Delaware River.

As part of that process, the battleship traveled south down the Delaware River to the Paulsboro Marine Terminal, where it was ballasted. The ballasting process allows water to be pumped in and out of the ballast tanks while at port, which is essential for safety during transit.

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The Spirit of Philadelphia and Rendezvous both shadowed the New Jersey on its journey.

"We'll be within 200 feet of the Battleship New Jersey," Ryan O'Connor, General Manager of City Cruises, said.

Once the clock hit 12:10 p.m., the most decorated battleship officially departed Camden, heading south down the river.

Around 1 p.m., all traffic came to a halt on the Walt Whitman Bridge as the battleship traveled underneath. Next stop – Paulsboro Marine Terminal for minor maintenance.

"This is also a dedication from me to the ones that never made it home," Mike Coughlin, from Honesdale, said.

The ship will be repainted and thousands of parts replaced, but to make it about six miles to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the Battleship will be pulled by four tugboats, which McAllister Towing will guide.

The Battleship New Jersey will be at the Paulsboro Marine Terminal for a week. 

Later, on March 27, the ship will depart for the Philadelphia Naval Yard, where it will remain for dry dock work for about eight weeks.

"This is a once-in-a-generation thing. Ships that are inactive like this, and there are no more battleships active anywhere in the world, so it's very rare for one of them to move at all," Battleship New Jersey museum curator Ryan Szimanski said. "They only go to dry dock once every 20 years, maybe 30 years. So this is the first time in my lifetime that we're doing this and I'll be 60 or 70 years old before we do it again."

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