Battleship New Jersey headed to drydock, but still needs money to fund ‘once in a generation’ repairs

The storied ship has been on the waterfront for three decades. It’s due for about $10 million of work before returning to host visitors in Camden.

Battleship New Jersey

File - Battleship New Jersey dry docked.(Courtesy of Battleship New Jersey)

The Battleship New Jersey is headed for a “once in a generation” refresh. The “Big J” has been displayed in New Jersey for over three decades and needs work.

The work includes “repainting, or as they say in the Navy, applying a system of coatings, fixing and repairing the ship’s cathodic protection system,” said Marshall Spevak, CEO of the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial.

Battleship New Jersey
(Courtesy of Battleship New Jersey)

“There are 1,200 anodes that will be replaced, and then finally, there are 160 through-hole openings. Every one of those have to be inspected, and if there’s any leaks, then they’ll need to be replaced.”

The work is expected to cost $10 million, and the ship is expected to be moved in March to the same Philly drydock where it was built for World War II.

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“We have enough to get the project going. We’re just looking to finish out the financing. So anyone who wants to contribute directly to the project can visit us on our website at, and there’s a whole page on dry docking and you can make a donation that will go specifically to this project.”

Spevak said the museum will host special weekend tours while the ship is out of the water to help pay the costs.

“We will be offering a dry dock tour on the weekends when work is not being done at the shipyard, and information about that will be announced in conjunction with an announcement that will hopefully be forthcoming very soon about when in fact the ship is actually going to move here from Camden.”

The tour will allow visitors to go under and around the ship to see it in the same place it was built in the ’40s.

“She will be returning to the same dock at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard where she was built in the 40s, and actually where she then subsequently came back to dry dock in the 1960s. So this is actually a historic homecoming for us at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard now so many years later,” Spevak said.

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Battleship New Jersey
Battleship Dry dock prior to Vietnam. (Courtesy of Battleship New Jersey)

An exact date for the move has not been announced, but the plans for how the ship will be towed from the Camden Waterfront to its temporary home in South Philadelphia are already in place.

“There will be four towboats that will physically tow the battleship down the river. There will be a Coast Guard security perimeter around the ship and an escort around the ship. So those who have boats down on the river unfortunately won’t be able to join us,” Spevak explained.

He added they are working with the Spirit of Philadelphia to offer an opportunity to purchase a ticket to be on the water with the battleship when the journey is underway.

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