Want to Walk Beneath a Massive Battleship? Here’s How to Take a ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime’ Tour.

A view of the captain's bridge and superstructure of the USS New Jersey (BB-62), Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial, berthed at Camden, N.J.
A view of the captain's bridge and superstructure of the USS New Jersey (BB-62), Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial, berthed at Camden, N.J., March 11, 2021. (Mark C. Olsen/New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo)

As the Battleship New Jersey sits in the dry dock at the Philadelphia Navy Yard through May undergoing maintenance, the public will be able to tour underneath the iconic vessel for the first time in its long history.

A few weeks ago, the battleship left its home port on the Camden waterfront after nearly 25 years of serving as a museum. It was towed away by tugboats to start a multi-month repair journey. The sendoff was attended by hundreds, including Gov. Phil Murphy and veterans who served on the ship.

The USS New Jersey arrived in Philadelphia after a stop in Paulsboro, N.J., for a ballasting project, which involved flooding its tanks with 500,000 gallons of water to balance the vessel in preparation for dry docking.

While at the Navy Yard, the battleship will be out of the water, offering viewers a rare chance to tour beneath its massive hull. Tours will run almost every Saturday and Sunday in April and May, according to battleship museum officials.

Dry dock tour tickets can be purchased through the Battleship New Jersey museum's website for $225. The tour is limited to people ages 16 or older. Veterans who served on the battleship can get tickets for $170.

The ship currently sits up on about 360 blocks, a few feet off the ground, officials said.

Guided tours will provide an opportunity to witness the ship and its propellers out of the water, and allow visitors to learn more about its history and significance, said Marshall Spevak, CEO of the Battleship New Jersey.

"You're literally going to be able to walk underneath the ship, touch underneath the ship, the hull and be able to walk around on the floor of the dry dock itself," Spevak said.

Visitors also get a behind-the-scenes look at the ongoing restoration and repair work on the ship as it prepares to return to Camden.

Workers will repaint the ship's hull, fix the anti-corrosion system underneath the ship and inspect the through-hull openings. The ship's aluminum anodes, which are used to protect metal structures from corroding, will also be replaced.

Decommissioned museum ships must undergo dry docking for maintenance every 20 years, according to Navy regulations. However, it has been 33 years since Battleship New Jersey underwent maintenance, Spevak said.

Because the Philadelphia Navy Yard is an active outdoor worksite, visitors on tours are asked to dress appropriately, including wearing steel-toed shoes and sturdy pants. A commemorative branded hat and protective eyewear will be provided for free on the tour, officials said.

The Battleship New Jersey is known as the most decorated battleship in U.S. Navy history. It's the fastest, longest Navy battleship and has served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon and the Persian Gulf wars.

The Philadelphia Navy Yard is the site where the battleship was originally constructed and launched in 1942, just a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Once the dry-docked repairs are complete, the ship will return home to Camden, where it will once again serve as a living museum and a memorial to those who served aboard the battleship.

© 2024 Advance Local Media LLC.

Visit nj.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Story Continues