Battleship USS New Jersey Ready for Holiday Celebrations: Commissioned during the Second World War, and returned to service for Korea, Vietnam and again at the end of the Cold War, the USS New Jersey (BB-62) has earned the distinction of being America’s most decorated battleship – earning more battle stars for combat actions than even the other three completed Iowa-class warships. This holiday season she’s been decorated in a different way. A floating museum since her retirement in 1992 on the Camden, New Jersey waterfront across from Philadelphia, Battleship New Jersey will be offering full-day celebrations for the New Year that include live music, food and three fireworks shows.
The battleship will open its forward deck for guests to come aboard and be treated to a unique view of the riverfront fireworks. Additionally, a unique raffle is being offered for a few lucky visitors to get a chance to fire the BB-62’s 5-inch guns at the end of each fireworks show. Tickets are $10 and all the proceeds will go towards the ongoing restoration of the non-profit museum that maintains the majestic U.S. Navy battle wagon.
In addition, a very special $200 experience is being offered to just 30 guests. Dubbed the “The Battleship’s Admiral’s VIP New Year’s Fireworks Experience,” it will include a guided tour of the USS New Jersey, and allow visitors to enjoy complimentary appetizers, beer, wine and soft drinks in the heated admiral’s and captain’s cabins; and then let those VIPS head to the Navigation Bridge, where they can watch the fireworks from inside the captain’s bridge.
“It’s something different. We’ve never had people actually inside the navigation bridge to watch fireworks before, so we’re kind of excited to offer this for New Year’s 2022,” explained Battleship New Jersey Executive Director Jack Willard in an interview with local radio station 101.5 FM.
The museum is going all-in on the celebrations as a way to raise the necessary funds for the ongoing restoration of the warship. Without the thousands of sailors performing the daily maintenance required on an operating ship, it remains a challenge just to keep her afloat. The museum’s staff has been working at replacing the deck, while those and efforts will continue throughout 2022.
“Money raised from the fireworks or some our events like our beer festivals or golf tournaments go right back into the ship to keep her afloat, to keep her looking good, and to keep her available for guests of New Jersey to come aboard and learn about her amazing history,” Willard added.
New Jersey at War
USS New Jersey participated in nearly all of the Western Pacific campaigns from her arrival in the theater in January 1944 until the end of the Second World War. Her first combat action came when she served in the Fifth Fleet under Adm. Raymond A. Spruance and the battleship provided fire support during the landings on the Marshal Islands. Her 16-inch guns were next employed on Saipan and Tinian, while she also screened the American aircraft carriers during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, where the anti-aircraft fire from USS New Jersey and other screening ships proved virtually impenetrable.
After the war, she was decommissioned but was the only U.S. Navy battleship returned to duty in both the Korean War, where she took part in two combat tours; and the Vietnam War, where she conducted frequent bombardments along the South Vietnamese coast. In total, USS New Jersey earned nine battle stars for service in the Second World War, four more for Korea, three for the Vietnam War, and three for actions in Lebanon and the Persian Gulf Region. The warship had also received the Navy Unit Commendation for Vietnam service, as well as the Presidential Unit Citation from the Republic of the Philippines, and the Presidential Unit Citation from the Republic of Korea – making her the most decorated battleship in U.S. history.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.