Battleship Of New Jersey: Touring America’s Most Decorated Battleship

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When we entered the Camden Waterfront, the first thing I noticed about the Battleship of New Jersey, a floating museum on the Delaware River, was the vessel’s massive size—eleven stories high and nearly three football fields long. This Iowa-class battleship built to “keep floating and keep fighting,” with nine 16-inch guns that can reach up to 23 miles away, has a fierce presence that served it well in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf Wars. Today, it is an interactive preserved museum where you can walk, climb, and crawl into everything from bunks and bathrooms to laundry rooms, a mess hall, a library, and even an added modern play area for kids to climb. I give this ship 19 stars (the battleship earned 19 Battle Stars while in service and is the most decorated one in the US) for a day my family will never forget. Scroll down for what we learned while we were there.

The Battleship of New Jersey: A Monumental Tour Experience

Battleship of New Jersey

Each chain link in this photo is 123 pounds each!

Choose your tour

Once we signed into the Visitor’s Center, we chose our tour for the day. There were various tour options, including the Fire Power Self-Guided Tour, which gives you the ability to take your time and explore five levels up and two decks below. Guides are available for questions and conversations along the way. Extensions to the tour are available for a limited time, including the Engineering “Steam to Speed,” where you can walk through the fire and engine room and climb under one of the ship’s massive propeller shafts. Or try the Turret II Guided Tour Extension, where you can load powder bags, hoist a projectile in an elevator, and pull the trigger to simulate firing a 16-inch gun. Tours are interactive for all ages, and they are easy to follow. My husband and son loved the ship so much that we took three of the four self-guided tours. It was fun to have the freedom to explore the ship independently, and it was exciting to see a new surprise around every corner.

Battleship of New Jersey

Ringing the bell on the Battleship of New Jersey started our tour off with a bang.

Coming aboard the Battleship of New Jersey

We were greeted by docents when we came aboard the ship, and the first thing I noticed was the extraordinary views—you can see everything from Penn’s Landing to the Philadelphia skyline. The deck alone is an adventure to explore. The sheer size of the chains and anchors on the ship were amazing to see. Can you believe about 11,000 feet of anchor chain are on each anchor, and just one chain link is about 123 pounds? Another really neat feature on the ship was the bell. My husband lifted my son so he could ring it, and he was so excited when it rang loud and clear.

Battleship of New Jersey

Notice the green tape line along the floor? When taking a self-guided tour, the lines are easy to follow as you choose your route.

Choose your path

Since we were doing the self-guided tour, we could follow the lines on the floor and choose our battleship adventure. The options were the green, blue, yellow, or red tour. The Green Line tour follows the main tour route, The Red Line features weapons and navigation, the Blue Line tour goes into the Citadel, and the Yellow Line tour features glimpses of the Crew’s Life. The lines were easy to see, and it was exciting to discover something new at every turn. It is important to note that there is a lot of walking and climbing, and if you are up for it, there are options to crawl into tight spaces to see the ship’s inner workings in several locations.

Battleship of New Jersey

The Battleship has so many unique nooks and crannies to check out, like this TV studio on board.

Take a step back in time

The keel for the Battleship New Jersey was laid in 1940, launched in 1942, and arrived at its final destination on October 15, 2001, at the Camden Waterfront. The ship accurately represents what a TV studio, barbershop, laundry room (imagine doing all of that laundry), navigation room, library, radio room, and even the Captain’s In-Port Cabin looked like when the ship was in commission. One unique feature we found on the boat was the “high line chair” that made a “high line transfer.” It meant you would travel from one ship to another right over the ocean waves as 10 to 30 people would pull you, culminating in the ultimate ride. If your kiddos need to let some energy out along the tour, they can stop in Jason’s Kids Kompartment. We spent only a short time there, but my kids liked pretending to be a boat captain, cooking up a meal in the play kitchen, or playing some Sixers basketball.

Battleship of New Jersey

Spend a night like a crew member aboard the Battleship of New Jersey.

Spend the night on the Battleship of New Jersey

Yes, you can sleep over in the Battleship New Jersey—thankfully, the Overnight Encampment Program is back on. If you’re thinking about doing it, you can book with a group (scouts, schools, etc.), request a family trip, or do it as a birthday party. You’ll feel right at home after storing your gear in a locker and finding your bunk–both used by the enlisted sailors when they were at sea. Next stop is the Chow Line for dinner, and then after, a tour of the ship exploring different spots that aren’t on typical tours. The following day, guzzle down breakfast in the Crew’s Mess and join the hands-on programs, including exploring the science behind the battleship, before packing up and stopping at the gift shop for souvenirs.

Battleship of New Jersey

Watching fireworks aboard the Battleship of New Jersey is an experience not to be missed. Photo Credit: Battleship New Jersey

Special events aboard the Battleship of New Jersey

Did you know that you can get married aboard the Battleship New Jersey? Yup, you can rent out the ship to host private events, and even several proms have happened aboard it. There are special public events like Astronomy Night, where the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia sends over a telescope and astronomer to explore the night sky on the ship’s deck, or the WWII Victory Day Aboard the Battleship. Check their events section to find out what’s happening, and mark your calendar for the fireworks shows on holidays like Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. Watching fireworks bursting in the air over the 887-foot battleship is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Battleship of New Jersey

To get an idea of the size of the Battleship of New Jersey, look at how small the helicopter looks on the ship’s deck.

What to know before you go

With costs of around $10,000 a day to keep the ship afloat on the Delaware River, the Battleship relies on donations, events, members, and visitors to help keep the floating museum open. Currently, the battleship is working to restore the teak floors on the deck, and you will see that as you tour the deck. Restrooms are available on the ship, and hand-washing and sanitizing stations are also available. It’s best to wear closed-toe shoes or sneakers because there are several steep steps (called ladders by the Navy) to maneuver up and down the ship, and there are also “knee knockers,” which are high step openings between rooms. Strollers are not permitted; front carriers are required for infants or toddlers. There is a gift shop, visitor’s center, and The Chow Line snack bar if you get hungry. The ship is open every day from 10 AM-5:30 PM. Tickets are $25 for an adult, $20 for kids 5-11, and $5 for kids under 5. Several parking options are available, and public transportation options are also available.

Battleship of New Jersey
62 Battleship Place
Camden, NJ 08103
(866) 877-6262

Check out their website, Instagram, and Facebook before you go.

What is your favorite part of the Battleship of New Jersey?

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About Author

Melanie Bodner has always had a love for writing, but now she has a new love…being a mom. Before having her kids, Melanie was no stranger to writing or working with children. She wrote for a local newspaper as a reporter and taught English and Dance in a public school. Now Melanie enjoys spending time with her kids, doing yoga, writing and decorating her home. Check out her Instagram @burlapbythebeach.

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