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Battleship New Jersey set to undergo maintenance for first time in more than 30 years in March

Battleship New Jersey set to undergo maintenance for first time in more than 30 years
Battleship New Jersey set to undergo maintenance for first time in more than 30 years 02:15

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) -- The Battleship New Jersey hasn't undergone maintenance in more than 30 years, but on Thursday officials announced the ship will move down the Delaware River on March 21 to head to dry dock.

The Battleship may look a bit shorter these days. Its mast and radar have now been removed so the ship can fit under the Walt Whitman Bridge when it's pulled from the Camden Waterfront.

"So the Battleship will be physically coming out of the water and most of the work being done there will happen under the water line," Marshall Spevak, the battleship's CEO, said.

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

"The tugs will be acting in place of the ship's engines and rudders to help maneuver her away from the deck," Capt. Joe Benton said.


Benton helped pull the Battleship New Jersey to her final destination on the Camden Waterfront in 2001, and he will have the privilege of pulling her again. Benton said the ship will stop first in Paulsboro, New Jersey, for minor repairs, and then it will head to the Navy Yard for extensive maintenance that will last about eight weeks. Benton called it a full-circle moment for his career.

"This is something that might happen once in a lifetime, but for me, this will be two in a lifetime," Benton said.

The ship was used during WWII and is the most decorated battleship in U.S. history. The ship now serves as a museum and memorial in Camden, and tours will re-launch at the Navy Yard on weekends, beginning April 6 and 7, and will run every Saturday and Sunday during the dry dock process.

"You can actually walk underneath the Battleship New Jersey, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk under an Iowa class battleship," Spevak said.

Extensive maintenance hasn't been done in 32 years, and Spevak said it's needed to preserve the ship's history.

"Our goal here is to keep the ship here in Camden and in New Jersey for as long as we possibly can. The work we're going to do here we hope will keep her floating in Camden for the next 30 years," Spevak said. 

A free dry dock departure celebration will be held at the Camden Waterfront on March 21 at 11 a.m. The Battleship New Jersey is set to pull away at 12:10 p.m. during high tide.

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