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August 23, 2020

Battleship New Jersey to temporarily close after Labor Day due to COVID-19 pandemic

Public tours and events remain available on the ship through Sept. 7

Museums Battleship New Jersey
Battleship New Jersey Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

The Battleship New Jersey will be closed until conditions improve with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to a decrease in visitors since reopening and significant financial losses brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial will close after Labor Day until further notice.

Public tours and events will remain available on the historic Naval ship through Sept. 7, the non-profit organization’s board of trustees said. Then, the ship will close indefinitely until conditions improve and it’s determined viable to reopen.

“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, who serves as the Chairman of the Battleship New Jersey’s 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.”

Located on the Camden Waterfront, the Battleship New Jersey initially closed at the onset of the pandemic in March. It reopened to the public in June.

However, far less visitors are coming to the Battleship New Jersey, according to its board of trustees. Additionally, the cancellation in events and tours during the pandemic has brought about significant financial losses for the museum and memorial.

The ship’s revenue comes from tours, special events, and programs, rather than funding from the U.S. Navy. 

The Battleship New Jersey has been kept afloat by donations, grants, and assistance from the state, but future funds are not guaranteed due to New Jersey’s financial state.

“Over the past years, we have budgeted wisely, putting us in a financial position to weather any normal storm,” said Phil Rowan, who serves as the ship’s Executive Director and CEO. 

“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.”

The Battleship New Jersey served in four wars and earned 19 Battle Stars during its service. It retired from active duty in 1991.

“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 serves as a trustee and the ship’s Military Liaison Officer.

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