A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013

USS New Jersey

Exploring a WWII Iowa Class Battleship in Camden New Jersey

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I'd seen the WWII Battleship USS Idaho (BB-61) moored up at Long Beach in California during our visit to the Queen Mary but she was closed by the time we got to her so I was hoping there would be a chance to look around one of her sister ships when I got to the US East Coast. Sure enough there was and we went to see the USS New Jersey (BB-62) moored at Camden opposite Philadelphia on the Delaware River.

USS New Jersey (BB-62) at Camden

USS New Jersey (BB-62) at Camden


Philadelphia and the Ben Franklin Bridge as seen from the USS New Jersey moored at Camden

Philadelphia and the Ben Franklin Bridge as seen from the USS New Jersey moored at Camden


Close up of the Philadelphia skyline from the USS New Jersey across the Delaware River at Camden

Close up of the Philadelphia skyline from the USS New Jersey across the Delaware River at Camden


The USS Olympia and Moshulu moored across the Delaware River at Penns Landing in Philadelphia

The USS Olympia and Moshulu moored across the Delaware River at Penns Landing in Philadelphia

The USS New Jersey was the second (of four) Iowa Class Battleships built for the US Navy during World War II and served in the Pacific 1944-1945, much of it as flagship for Fleet Admiral William Halsey. She went on to serve in Korea (1950-1953), Vietnam (1967-1969) and the Lebanese Civil War (1983-1984) before finally being decommissioned in 1991 and becoming a museum ship at Camden in 2000. With the award of a total of 19 battle and campaign stars during her career the USS New Jersey is the most decorated battleship ever in the US Navy.

Inside one of the forward gun turrets aboard the USS New Jersey

Inside one of the forward gun turrets aboard the USS New Jersey


The captain's in-port cabin aboard the USS New Jersey

The captain's in-port cabin aboard the USS New Jersey


A corridor of bulkhead doors below deck aboard the USS New Jersey

A corridor of bulkhead doors below deck aboard the USS New Jersey


Helsey-era Chief of Staff Stateroom aboard the USS New Jersey

Helsey-era Chief of Staff Stateroom aboard the USS New Jersey

After a brief look inside of one of the main forward gun turrets and various officer cabins (complete with dummies) we entered the dimly lit Operations Room full of TV screens, computer consoles and sonar/radar displays as well as several grease-pencil annotated transparent plotting boards - just like something out of a film such as the USS Missouri in Steven Seagal's 1992 film "Under Siege".

Inside the Operations Room aboard the USS New Jersey

Inside the Operations Room aboard the USS New Jersey


The Operations Room in more usual dimly lit mode (i.e. without the camera flash!)

The Operations Room in more usual dimly lit mode (i.e. without the camera flash!)

From the Operations Room the red and yellow lines on the floor we were asked to follow next took us outside onto the Bridge where I was able to sit in the chair used by Admiral Halsey when he commanded the US Third Fleet at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944.

Me sat in Admiral Helsey's chair on the Navigation Bridge aboard the USS New Jersey

Me sat in Admiral Helsey's chair on the Navigation Bridge aboard the USS New Jersey


The view from the Bridge of the USS New Jersey moored in Camden

The view from the Bridge of the USS New Jersey moored in Camden

The view over the forward gun turrets in the bright sunshine was particularly good from the upper deck of the Bridge. The day we visited there was also an Admiral's retirement ceremony with lots of naval personnel in white dress uniforms taking place on the Forward Deck in front of the forward guns. An unusual event to witness but unfortunately it did mean we were not able to go out and look around the Forward Deck.

Looking down on the forward gun turrets from the Bridge

Looking down on the forward gun turrets from the Bridge


A Retirement Ceremony underway on the forward deck of the USS New Jersey

A Retirement Ceremony underway on the forward deck of the USS New Jersey

The USS New Jersey was de-commissioned and re-activated twice during her career with her armaments upgraded each time; her first decommission was in 1957 with reactivation for the Vietnam War in 1967; her second decommission was in 1969 with reactivation in 1982. As we made our way back along the ship the first of these new armaments we saw was a Phalanx Battery (often nicknamed by crews as "R2-D2" or "Daleks" because of their shape) used against anti-ship missiles. We then passed a 5 inch gun battery and chaff launchers before reaching the armoured box launchers used to launch Tomahawk long-distance cruise missiles.

20 mm/76 cal. Phalanx Battery aboard the USS New Jersey

20 mm/76 cal. Phalanx Battery aboard the USS New Jersey


5 inch gun battery with Chaff Launchers on the deck above aboard the USS New Jersey

5 inch gun battery with Chaff Launchers on the deck above aboard the USS New Jersey


Tomahawk Cruise Missile Armoured Box Launcher aboard the USS New Jersey

Tomahawk Cruise Missile Armoured Box Launcher aboard the USS New Jersey

Back inside we had a brief look around a museum area containing dummies wearing sailor and marine uniforms and comparing the US Iowa Class Battleships with their contemporaries in other navies such as the Japanese Yamato, German Bismark and British King George V. We then entered more mundane areas of the ship such as the famed "Chow-Line" and "Mess Deck" where food was served to enlisted men from the Ship's Galley.

The 'Chow-Line' aboard the USS New Jersey

The 'Chow-Line' aboard the USS New Jersey


A 'Mess Deck' for enlisted men aboard the USS New Jersey

A 'Mess Deck' for enlisted men aboard the USS New Jersey

From the Mess Deck our tour took us past the multi-faith Chapel, the Barber Shop and the Dry Cleaners. Our final stop was the "Brig" (the navy's term for their on-board jail/prison) where misbehaving sailors were sent and guarded by members of the USS New Jersey's marine detachment (MARDET).

A multi-faith Chapel aboard the USS New Jersey

A multi-faith Chapel aboard the USS New Jersey


Time for a haircut? - Barber Shop aboard the USS New Jersey

Time for a haircut? - Barber Shop aboard the USS New Jersey


Smartly pressed uniforms at the Dry Cleaners aboard the USS New Jersey

Smartly pressed uniforms at the Dry Cleaners aboard the USS New Jersey


The 'Brig' aboard the USS New Jersey

The 'Brig' aboard the USS New Jersey

We emerged back into daylight on the rear deck of the ship and took pictures of the impressive rear main battery with each of its three guns sealed by a black cap with a white star before leaving the USS New Jersey and returning to shore.

The Rear Main Battery and Seasprite Helicopter aboard the USS New Jersey

The Rear Main Battery and Seasprite Helicopter aboard the USS New Jersey


Close up of the starboard side of the USS New Jersey moored at Camden

Close up of the starboard side of the USS New Jersey moored at Camden


Another view of the Admiral's retirement ceremony being held on the USS New Jersey's forward deck

Another view of the Admiral's retirement ceremony being held on the USS New Jersey's forward deck

Before finally leaving Camden there was one last sight to see, namely the former headquarters (now renovated and converted into apartments and a conference centre) of the RCA Victor Company built 1909-1916 with its stained glass images on its 200 foot high tower of the "His Master's Voice" logo of a dog called "Nipper" listening to a gramophone record. I must admit to being a bit confused as to what the HMV record company logo was doing on top of a RCA building but it turns out there were two separate companies (one in the USA and the other in Britain) that had purchased the rights to use "Nipper" as their logo.

The RCA 'Nipper' Building in Camden

The RCA 'Nipper' Building in Camden


Close up of the stained glass window on top of the RCA 'Nipper' Building

Close up of the stained glass window on top of the RCA 'Nipper' Building

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged philadelphia warships war_memorials us_east_coast Comments (0)

The British are coming!

Re-enactment of an American War of Independence skirmish in Haddonfield New Jersey

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As noted when I visited the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, military re-enactment has become a very popular pastime in the USA with an estimated 50,000 participants nationwide. The most popular historical period with re-enactors is the American Civil War although there is also a strong following for the American War of Independence. With the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Monmouth which happened on the 28th June 1778 coming up we learnt that a re-enactment of one of its preliminary skirmishes was due to take place in the nearby town of Haddonfield and decided to go and watch on the way back from our visit to the USS New Jersey.

The British Loyalists prepare to march off from the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield

The British Loyalists prepare to march off from the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield


Revolutionary War artifacts on display outside the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield

Revolutionary War artifacts on display outside the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield

The muster point for the re-enactment was the Indian King Tavern on the Kings Highway, the main street that runs through the centre of Haddonfield. Built in 1750, this historic building was where in 1777 the New Jersey General Assembly ratified the American Declaration of Independence. After being barked at by their officers (much to the amusement of watching bystanders), the first contingent of re-enactors to march off from the Tavern were 15 red-coated British Loyalists to their start point for the coming battle further into town.

Bystanders gather around as the New Jersey Volunteers muster by the Indian King Tavern to face the British Loyalists

Bystanders gather around as the New Jersey Volunteers muster by the Indian King Tavern to face the British Loyalists


New Jersey Volunteers on guard duty along Haddonfield's Kings Highway

New Jersey Volunteers on guard duty along Haddonfield's Kings Highway


American Minuteman on guard duty outside the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield

American Minuteman on guard duty outside the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield

This left the Indian Kings Tavern in the hands of the largely blue-coated New Jersey Volunteers representing the "home team" who then formed up by the Tavern themselves and posted guards outside a number of shops down the street. With the streets cleared, traffic stopped and spectators gathered on the opposite side of the street the blue-coated New Jersey Volunteers created their battle line outside the Tavern and advanced down towards the red-coated British skirmishers who had begun to appear at the bottom of the street - it was about to get very noisy!

The New Jersey Volunteers form up to meet the British

The New Jersey Volunteers form up to meet the British


The New Jersey Volunteers get their first glimpse of the British skirmishers

The New Jersey Volunteers get their first glimpse of the British skirmishers


The New Jersey Volunteers let off their first volley at the skirmishers just as more British troops arrive

The New Jersey Volunteers let off their first volley at the skirmishers just as more British troops arrive

Having stopped half way down the street, the New Jersey Volunteers took aim and fired at the British, battle had commenced! The crowd was enjoying it and the banter amongst the crowd was almost as entertaining as the spectacle itself. The billing in the local press said it was "highly probable that the British will drive the Continentals out of town before celebrating in the wine cellar of the Indian King Tavern" which set the jovial mood and made it sound like the British might actually win this one!

The British Loyalists begin to advance up the street pushing the New Jersey Volunteers back

The British Loyalists begin to advance up the street pushing the New Jersey Volunteers back


The whole battle was filmed by a local television crew for the evening news

The whole battle was filmed by a local television crew for the evening news

The two sides then took turns loading, aiming and firing their muskets that would go off with a deafening crack that would make you jump even if you were expecting it and was then followed by so much smoke it obscured the view down the street until it had a chance to drift away. The whole thing was being recorded by a film crew just in front of where we were standing, I guess there was a very good chance our skirmish was going to be on the local evening news.

The British Loyalists take aim...

The British Loyalists take aim...


...and let off a volley at the New Jersey Volunteers

...and let off a volley at the New Jersey Volunteers


The New Jersey Volunteers take aim...

The New Jersey Volunteers take aim...


...and let off a volley at the British Loyalists

...and let off a volley at the British Loyalists

Slowly but surely the bluecoated New Jersey Volunteers were pushed back up the street although the first re-enactors to fall down and play dead were British redcoats - prompting cheers and chants of "Team USA" which was really funny. However as the New Jersey Volunteers retreated suddenly there was a lot of them lying down dead - which prompted equally amusing boos from the obviously very partisan crowd!

It must have been getting pretty hot laying on the ground playing dead

It must have been getting pretty hot laying on the ground playing dead


The British redcoats slowly advanced pushing the American bluecoats back up the Kings Highway

The British redcoats slowly advanced pushing the American bluecoats back up the Kings Highway

With the New Jersey Volunteers having now retreated beyond the Indian King Tavern itself, the shooting stopped and the British Officer advanced to meet his American counterpart who theatrically offered him his sword in surrender before turning round and announcing to his remaining troops "Men... you lost!", which again prompted a chortle amongst the crowd.

The British Officer advances to accept the American surrender

The British Officer advances to accept the American surrender


The American Officer surrenders his sword

The American Officer surrenders his sword


The remaining New Jersey Volunteers reverse their weapons as a sign of surrender

The remaining New Jersey Volunteers reverse their weapons as a sign of surrender

It had been a fun early afternoon with a strong sense of community, the actual engagement through the centre of picturesque Haddonfield only lasting about half an hour before the police were able to re-open the road again.

The Kings Highway was blocked off by police while the battle was underway

The Kings Highway was blocked off by police while the battle was underway

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in USA Tagged videos war_memorials us_east_coast Comments (0)

Following in Rocky's Steps

A morning sightseeing in Philadelphia

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Before going to watch the Philadelphia Phillies Baseball Team play the Milwaukee Brewers in the afternoon there was just enough time to get a bit more sightseeing done in Philadelphia, I had to see where Rocky was filmed!

But first we did a bit more history by going to see Congress Hall, the only building around Independence Square I didn't manage to see on my previous visit. Philadelphia was the original capital of the USA when there were just 13 states with Congress Hall being used as the Capital Building from 1790 until US government moved to Washington DC in 1800. During this time 3 new states - Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee - were admitted.

The House Chamber on the ground floor of Congress Hall

The House Chamber on the ground floor of Congress Hall


The Senate Chamber on the upper floor of Congress Hall

The Senate Chamber on the upper floor of Congress Hall


The Senate Chamber at Congress Hall including the carpet with the shields of the original 13 states

The Senate Chamber at Congress Hall including the carpet with the shields of the original 13 states

The House Chamber has mahogany desks and eventually accommodated 106 representatives from the 16 states; the Senate Chamber is more ornate with red drapes and 32 secretary desks (28 of which are original) very similar to the desks that are still used in the current Senate chamber in Washington DC. There are portraits of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, gifts from the French monarchy following the American Revolution, hanging in the adjoining committee rooms.

Portrait of Louis XVI (a gift from the French Monarchy) in a committee room next to the Senate Chamber

Portrait of Louis XVI (a gift from the French Monarchy) in a committee room next to the Senate Chamber


Portrait of Marie Antoinette (a gift from the French Monarchy) in the other committee room next to the Senate Chamber

Portrait of Marie Antoinette (a gift from the French Monarchy) in the other committee room next to the Senate Chamber

On the far side of Independence Square with their corners just touching is Washington Square, the south-east quadrant of the five original planned squares laid out on the city grid for William Penn, the founder of the city. Originally used as a burial ground for citizens and troops from the Colonial army and then as pasture, it is now the site of the tomb and eternal flame of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution in Washington Square

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution in Washington Square


The central fountain and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square

The central fountain and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square

The oldest residential street in the USA is believed to be the cobblestoned Elfreth's Alley in Philadelphia. Its 33 brick houses were originally built circa 1702 and despite being registered as a historic landmark are still privately owned; a few of them had 'for sale' notices which did somewhat spoilt the historical effect!

Elfreth's Alley - the oldest residential street in the USA

Elfreth's Alley - the oldest residential street in the USA


Water pump in Bladen's Court just off Elfreth's Alley

Water pump in Bladen's Court just off Elfreth's Alley

A short distance away was the Betsy Ross House built about 1740. Betsy Ross is credited with sewing the original Stars and Stripes US Flag in her bedchamber while under risk of being arrested by the British for treason. The house is furnished to look like it would have done at the time of the American Revolution; complete with a very enthusiastic actor pretending to be Betsy Ross who was offering to take on new sewing commissions!

The Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia

The Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia


Betsy Ross' bedchamber where she sewed the first Stars and Stripes

Betsy Ross' bedchamber where she sewed the first Stars and Stripes


The actor playing Betsy Ross offering to take on new sewing commissions

The actor playing Betsy Ross offering to take on new sewing commissions

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the USA containing over 227,000 objects of which probably the most famous is Van Gogh's painting of a Vase with twelve Sunflowers. However what I really wanted to see were the iconic 72 stone steps out front that featured in the 1976 film Rocky and four of its sequels! A bronze statue of Rocky now stands near the bottom of the steps, both of which were popular locations for tourists such as myself to jump around with fists raised above their heads doing Rocky impressions!

The Washington Monument with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rocky Steps behind

The Washington Monument with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rocky Steps behind


The grand stairway leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The grand stairway leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art


Me doing my Rocky impression by the Rocky Balboa Statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Me doing my Rocky impression by the Rocky Balboa Statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art


The view down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The view down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The mile long Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the Rocky Steps back into the city centre is a very scenic boulevard lined with museums and bedecked with the flags of 109 countries modelled after the Champs Elysees in Paris. Amongst the museums is the Rodin Museum which contains the largest collection of Auguste Rodin's sculptures outside Paris. This includes one of the 28 original castings of his famous statue The Thinker which sits outside in the museum's entry courtyard.

The view along the flag lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The view along the flag lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art


The statue of 'The Thinker' outside the Rodin Museum

The statue of 'The Thinker' outside the Rodin Museum


The UK Flag lining the Benjamin Franklin Parkway near the Logan Circle

The UK Flag lining the Benjamin Franklin Parkway near the Logan Circle

Midway along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the Swann Memorial Fountain in the Logan Circle with 3 sculptures of native American figures representing the local Wissahickon, Schaylkill and Delaware rivers spurting out water at its base. Even closer to the city centre is the John F Kennedy Plaza aka Love Square; so called because of the iconic fountain-side 'LOVE' sculpture by Robert Indiana placed there in 1976 which I somehow managed to totally miss despite being evidently having stood directly beneath it taking photographs!

The Swann Memorial Fountain midway along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

The Swann Memorial Fountain midway along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway


Philadelphia City Hall behind the Love Park Fountain

Philadelphia City Hall behind the Love Park Fountain


View back along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art... from beside the iconic LOVE statue which I somehow managed to totally miss!

View back along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art... from beside the iconic LOVE statue which I somehow managed to totally miss!

At the city end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the middle of Penn Square is the majestic 548 feet (167 metre) tall City Hall completed in 1901. It's the tallest masonry structure in the world without a steel frame and is topped by a 37 feet (11.2 metre) high bronze statue of William Penn.

Philadelphia City Hall in the middle of Penn Square

Philadelphia City Hall in the middle of Penn Square

For many years there had been a gentleman's agreement in Philadelphia that no building taller than this statue would EVER be erected. Then in 1987 One Liberty Place (945 feet - 288 metres) was built breaching this rule and the idea of "the Curse of Billy Penn" took hold as all the professional sports teams based in Philadelphia (baseball, ice hockey, basketball and American football) failed to win any championships. Then in 2007 the Comcast Building (974 feet - 297 metre) was built with a small statue of William Penn amid much ridicule placed on top, the following year the Philadelphia Phillies won Baseball's 2008 World Series - was the superstition of the curse true after all?

Close up of William Penn's Statue on top of Philadelphia City Hall - was the 'Curse of Billy Penn' true?

Close up of William Penn's Statue on top of Philadelphia City Hall - was the 'Curse of Billy Penn' true?

Time go and see, in the afternoon we had tickets to watch the Philadelphia Phillies play against the Milwaukee Brewers :)

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged museums city philadelphia us_east_coast film_locations external_links Comments (0)

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