Since 2001, the Battleship New Jersey has been docked on the Camden waterfront. No longer an active military vessel, the ship welcomes the public for tours and events. However, the future of the battleship remains uncertain as the coronavirus outbreak has jeopardized the ship’s financial stability.
The Battleship New Jersey closed on March 16, just before New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ordered all non-essential businesses to shut down. Since then, the ship’s staff estimate they have lost almost $10,000 each day in daily income. On top of that lost income, the ship’s operating costs, the funds needed just to keep the battleship afloat, also amount to nearly $10,000 a day. The loss of income from public tours, overnight stays, and special events, as well as the loss of $250,000 in frozen state aid, means that the future of the ship hangs in the balance.
In order to recoup lost income, the battleship is seeking a $2 million Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan (SBA), a part of the $2 trillion congressional relief package. Staff have had difficulty applying for the loan because of slowdowns on the SBA website. The battleship is also soliciting individual donations to help offset operating costs.
The museum has furloughed two-thirds of its staff, and the twenty-four remaining employees are working in security, maintenance, and fundraising. The battleship has been cleaned, sealed, and partially powered down in order to reduce costs.
Battleship CEO Phil Rowan said that the museum has worked to put itself in good financial situation to withstand an emergency, but the longer the shut down goes on the more funding the ship will need. “It is our intention to bring our tour guides back as soon as we can reopen,” he said.