My on-site investigation of the battleship USS New Jersey for inclusion in novel.
22.08.2008 - 25.08.2008
CAMDEN, New Jersey, USA (Aug. 23) -- The USS New Jersey is a 45,000 ton battleship built in 1942 and was used in World War II, Korean War, the American/Vietnam War and served in other theaters of operations in the 1980s-90s. Of particular interest to me was its activities in 1951, where it was engaged in combat off the coast of Korea, mostly attacking North Korean shore batteries. I have included a the battleship anchored in Halong Bay in four scenes in my upcoming novel Woman At The Citadel, a novel set in 1951 Indochina, although in reality the vessel did not actually sail to Indochina that year. I thought it was important to see the vessel in person to more accurately describe its interior and know more about its history and technical specifications.
(above) I arrived in Philadelphia, the closest airport to the site and stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
(above) View of City Hall from my room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
(above) I'm standing in front of the USS New Jersey, which I toured for about 3 hours with a professional guide.
(above) Starboard side of battleship and dock.
(above) I'm standing in front of the ship's 16-inch 50 caliber guns (there are a total of 9 such guns on the ship).
(above) The loading mechanizm for the battleship's 16-inch gun. This one is the center gun in the forward turret.
(above) Restored officer's cabin as it appeared in the 1940s and 50s.
(above) Bedroom of the Captain's in-port cabin. The cabin also features a lounge and dining area.
(above) Captain David Tyree, the ship's commander during the period of my novel.
USS New Jersey (BB-62), ("Big J" or "Black Dragon") is one of four Iowa-class battleships built by the U.S. Navy, and was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the U.S. state of New Jersey. During World War II, the New Jersey shelled targets on Guam and Okinawa, and screened aircraft carriers conducting raids in the Marshall islands. During the Korean War she was involved in raids up and down the North Korean coast, after which she was decommissioned in to the United States Navy reserve fleets, better known as the "mothball fleet". She was briefly reactivated in 1968 and sent to Vietnam to support U.S. troops before returning to the mothball fleet in 1969. Reactivated once more in the 1980s as part of the 600-ship Navy program, New Jersey was modernized to carry missiles and recommissioned for service. In 1983, she participated in U.S. operations during the Lebanese Civil War.
(above) New Phalanx close-in weapons system (back) and Tomahawk cruise missile launcher (foreground), which were installed in the 1980s.
(above) Modernized surveillance and targeting equipment installed during refurbishment in the 1980s.
The USS New Jersey was decommissioned for the last time in February 1991 at Bremerton, Washington where she resided until heading home to New Jersey. She was officially stricken from the Navy list on February 12,1995. On November 11, 1999, the ship arrived at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Since that time, the battleship has been restored, opened and established as an educational museum and a tribute to its sailors. It opened as a museum and memorial in October 2001.
Overall, my visit was very interesting and the city, which I had visited numerous times in the 1980s, could also be featured one or more of my other novels. I'll consider that as manuscripts develop.
----- Travel Essentials Summary (and ratings) -----
Hotel: Ritz-Carlton (9.5)
Restaurants: McCormick & Schmick's (8); Ristorante Panorama (in Pennsview Hotel)(8.5); 10 Arts (in Ritz Carlton)(7.5)
Bar/Club: Cuba Libre (9)
Rental Car: Dodge Nitro (8.5)