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It is not often that you hear of a museum that was never meant to be, but one is about to be constructed is a 20,000 foot facility overlooking the New York skyline. The New Jersey Naval Museum will be expanding and will also incorporate maritime history of the state of New Jersey to help teach about the naval history of this great state on the Atlantic Ocean. The new museum will be called the New Jersey Naval and Maritime Museum, and will be the centerpiece of the waterfront rejuvenation project in the city of Hoboken.

While the Vietnam War was raging in 1971, nobody was thinking about building a naval museum in New Jersey. Several submarine veterans got together and wanted to create a small memorial to fellow submariners still on eternal patrol. This was the beginning of the Submarine Memorial Association that would become the caretakers of this memorial. From this small start, a request was sent to Washington for a donation of a torpedo to be used as a part of a memorial to be erected in Hackensack, New Jersey, on land cordially donated by Mr. Malcolm Borg, owner of the New Jersey newspaper The Bergen Record.

The request was returned approved, with a small catch-the torpedo was aboard USS LING (SS 297). As an Act of Congress on 28 June 1972, USS LING was to be turned over to the Submarine Memorial Association as a memorial. On 13 January 1973 LING was transferred from the Broolclyn Navy Yard and arrived at Borg Park to start her new life as a memorial, and a symbol of American dedication to defending the free world against foreign aggressors.

The submarine and museum are currently open from 10 AM until 5 PM Wednesday through Sunday. The museum is located on the corner of Court and River Streets across from the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack. There is easy access from all major roads. If there are any question please feel free to call or write. The phone number is (201) 342-3268, and the address is P.O. Box 395, Hackensack, New Jersey 07602-0395. USS LING (SS 297) is one of the last Balao class fleet boats to be built. These boats were constructed to bring the war to Imperial Japan while the surface Navy rebuilt after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was also this same type of submarine that rescued then LT George Bush after his Avenger was shot down during an attack on a Japanese held island.

The keel of LING was laid down on 02 November 1942 at the Cramp Shipyard of Philadelphia, but she was finally finished by the Boston Shipyard. She was commissioned on 08 June 1945. LING is 312 feet long and measures 27 feet at the beam. She displaces 2040 tons. When on active duty, she had a complement of 80 officers and men, and had an armament capacity of 24 torpedoes or 40 mines.

When pulling up to the museum it is hard not to see LING, but your eyes are quiclcly taken away by the large vintage missile collection on the Memorial lawn next to the monuments to the ships on eternal patrol. Many of these authentic missiles are of Korean War vintage which makes them a rare sight even to an avid museum buff.

The New Jersey Naval and Maritime Museum is proud to announce that the surviving members of the World War II destroyer escort USS MASON (DE 191) will be donating all remaining records, paperwork, and photos to be maintained on display to protect her place in history. USS MASON was the only ship with an almost all African-American crew. She had won several awards, but due to racism, she did not receive the recognition that she deserved until 50 years later from President Clinton.

The museum also has numerous artifacts, photos, miniatures, and memorabilia of submarine history. The new museum shall be greatly expanded to cover other naval elements such as surface warfare, naval air warfare, and special warfare. The museum shall also incorporate maritime history of New Jersey going back before the Dutch and the British settled this area.

People have asked why a naval museum in New Jersey? Most people don’t think of the amount of shipping that comes into New Jersey from all over the globe. Many of the large shipping companies’ headquarters are located right here. John Holland designed and built his submarines here in Paterson until he moved to Elizabethport and merged his company with the Electric Launch Company. This merger led to the creation of the General Dynamics Electric Boat Company, maker of today’s modem nuclear attack subs.

The Electric Launch Company was famous for building the British over 500 liberty ships in only 488 days during the First World War. Another little known fact is that the first use of a submarine was during the Revolutionary War here in New York harbor. Anny Corporal Ezra Hull took off after the British warship EAGLE in September 1776 in an attempt to sink the ship. Just three months later in December General George Washington led his men in an historic crossing of the Delaware River into New Jersey to defeat the British at the Battle of Trenton.

USS BONEFISH (SS 582), the last diesel electric submarine built in the United States, was built in Camden, New Jersey in 1959. This was the end of an era in American submarine history. It is hard to believe, but submarine history started here, and an era ended in this great state.

Several German submarines were sunk right off this coast by the Coast Guard. German submarines would come to prowl around New York Harbor trying to stop shipping. Many of these U-boats used the Coney Island ferris wheel as a landmark before finding the harbor. The press kept this fact very quiet until now. In the spring, salvage operations are expected to learn more about the U-boat found off Sandy Hook.

The state also has several large defense contractors located here as well as some key naval installations. The Lakehurst Naval Air Station is noted not only for training naval air crews, but was the final stop for the great airship HINDENBURGH. Further up the shore is the Naval Station at Earle. This Naval Station is responsible for supplying the fleet as they leave for deployment.

This was one of the largest jumping off points for American forces going to fight in Europe during the First and Second World War. Millions left just steps away from where the new museum will be built. Just at the end of the pier from the museum is the original Boiler Technician School. It was this school that taught many of the young sailors how to operate the main plants of the famous ships of the Navy. Boilermen for many of the ships of President Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet were trained here in Hoboken.

Part of the Great White Fleet was the original battleship NEW JERSEY which was built in 1904. She was the lead ship of a class of five (NEW JERSEY, VIRGINIA, GEORGIA, NEBRASKA, and RHODE ISLAND). She should not be mistaken for the famous battleship NEW JERSEY (BB 62) of later vintage. This NEW JERSEY was built in 1943 and is one of the last four dreadnoughts in the world. Currently, she is fighting a battle of survival. There are members of Congress that wish to re-commission her onto the active Navy roles for use in any littoral water situation, a group that wishes to bring her to New Jersey as a museum, and a group that wishes to see her and her sisters lay victim to the scrap dealer’s cutting torch.

There have been several ships named after New Jersey cities or battles fought here in this state: USS PRINCETON {gunboat) (1896), USS PRINCETON (CV 37) (1945, redesignated LPH 5), USS PRINCETON (CG 56), USS TRENTON (1923), USS TRENTON (LPD 14) (1971), USS BARNEGAT (aircraft tender) (1938), USS BARNEGAT (AVP 10) (1941), and USS CAMDEN (sub tender) (1900), to name a few.

All of these famous ships and events shall have displays commemorating these milestones and more. Not only will there be static and interactive displays, but different types of nautical courses will be taught. Courses like small boat handling, naval model building, and canoe building are just examples of things that will be going on. Different organizations like Submarine Vets of World War D, or Sub Vets Inc. will have meetings here. The New Jersey Naval and Maritime Museum will be more than just a museum, it will be a place of excitement, learning, and interaction.

Ground breaking for the Waterfront Project and museum will be in the spring of 1996. All inquiries or ideas for displays are welcome. Donations or sponsorships are always appreciated. Please call or write the museum currently in Hackensack and ask for Ron Pellegrino for details or call (201) 328-3458.

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