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Phillyburbs.com Reports: Battleship's silver to return for a visit

 

Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2013 9:30 am | Updated: 11:53 am, Thu May 16, 2013.

PRINCETON — Pieces of the USS New Jersey’s silver service will ship out soon from the official home of Gov. Chris Christie for a visit to their former haunt aboard the historic battleship.

They are expected to arrive just in time to help the battleship celebrate the 70th anniversary of its commissioning May 23.

“We’re very pleased. We’re very excited,” said Philip Rowan, president and CEO of the battleship, after visiting Drumthwacket, the governor’s mansion, on Wednesday to make arrangements for moving the silver to the ship berthed on the waterfront in Camden.

Rowan said he was waiting for the contract he signed with the Navy for the silver exhibition to be finalized.

The Navy still owns the collection, even though it has been on loan and in use at the governor’s mansion since the battleship was decommissioned in the 1990s. But no one associated with the decommissioned ship knew that until recently, when Rowan petitioned the governor’s office to borrow the silver for the anniversary celebration.

Rowan then enlisted the help of U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-1st of Haddon Heights, to ask the Navy to borrow the silver service, which a Christie spokesman called “the crown jewel” of the governor’s mansion.

Andrews said he was pleased to have forwarded the request to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

“I was happy to play a part in bringing this request before Secretary Mabus so that this treasure can be brought back to its former home at the Battleship New Jersey for this special anniversary. I am confident the logistics will be worked out and the silver will be enjoyed by all visiting America’s most decorated ship,” Andrews said in a statement released by his office.

According to the contract, the 100-plus-year-old Tiffany punch bowl — the focal point of the sterling silver service — will be displayed on the ship May 23-31 before returning to Drumthwacket, where it gleams as bright as new on the 20-seat dining room table.

Forty other pieces will be displayed on the ship through the end of September, including elaborately decorated goblets, plates and gold-lined saltcellars.

The main pieces of silver originally were given by the state to the first Battleship New Jersey in 1907. That ship was decommissioned and later sunk during target practice in 1923. More pieces were added and presented to the second USS New Jersey when it was commissioned in 1943. The full service is housed at Drumthwacket but is still owned by the Navy.

While Christie won’t be able to attend the anniversary celebration, two former governors, Christie Whitman and Jim Florio, will participate in the 11 a.m. ceremony next Thursday, Rowan said.

Navy representatives who served on the battleship during its four commissionings from World War II through the Korean War, Vietnam and into the 1990s also will participate. The public is invited.

Rowan said the silver service will be set up for display by guests who tour the ship.

Information on tickets for the tours can be obtained by visiting the battleship’s website,http://www.battleshipnewjersey.org.

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