CAMDEN The Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial has received $250,000 from the Battleship New Jersey Historical Museum Society, a nonprofit organization that has financially supported the historic ship and helped bring it to New Jersey.
The donated funds will be used to "create the new 'Steam to Speed Tour' route through the battleship's engineering spaces," said John Ryan, chairman of the board of trustees for the battleship.
It "will be essential for the installation of railings, platforms, and other safety devices, as well as interpretive signage and interactive elements that will virtually bring the battleship's engine rooms and boilers to life," Ryan said.
The funds account for about half of the money required to complete the engineering tour. "We really need at least $500,000 to open this amazing part of the battleship," Ryan said.
The Battleship New Jersey Historical Museum Society donated $300,000 to the battleship last year. That money has been used to replace teak decks, paint the hull, and market the ship. A total of $8 million will be needed from donors to completely replace the ship's teak deck.
The society's president, Vincent Falso, said his organization was pleased to help fund the new engineering tour.
"Having served on her for two cruises, I am personally thrilled that this money will open more of this great battleship, allowing people from throughout the world to enjoy the full experience of the Big J," said Falso, a crew member of the USS New Jersey during the 1950s.
The donated money will be an essential first step in generating funding for the engineering spaces, said Phil Rowan, CEO and executive director of the battleship.
The public can help by purchasing a new desktop glass engraved image of the battleship mounted on a piece of the ship's deck and donating to the Dollars for the Deck, a grassroots project to fund new teak decking, officials said.
Supporters can also attend fund-raising events including a comedy show featuring Joe Conklin on April 16; the annual Battleship Blast gala July 4; and the annual golf tournament Sept. 28 at Pennsauken Country Club.
More information on supporting Big J can be found at www.battleshipnewjersey.org.