Friday, November 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Creating a virtual tour of the Battleship New Jersey

A crowd gathers on the deck of the Battleship New Jersey to watch a Memorial Day ceremony in Camden, NJ on May 27, 2013.  ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )
A crowd gathers on the deck of the Battleship New Jersey to watch a Memorial Day ceremony in Camden, NJ on May 27, 2013. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )

CAMDEN They might not be able to negotiate the narrow steps deep inside the Battleship New Jersey. But elderly and disabled visitors who want to see turret II and the simulated loading and firing of its big 16-inch guns may soon be able to take the tour - virtually.

The images making that tour possible will be digitally collected Tuesday by Haag 3D Solutions L.L.C., a geospatial services firm in Mount Laurel, and Leica Geosystems, a precision measurement company based in Heerbrugg, Switzerland, said Jack Willard, a spokesman for the ship.

"It's difficult for some guests to access the turret," Willard said. "This will allow for computerized tours with 360-degree photos and 3-D images."

The project - donated by the companies - will be undertaken in preparation for the meeting of the West Jersey Chapter of the New Jersey Society of Professional Land Surveyors, to be held Sept. 10 on the battleship.

Tuesday's effort involves a combination of 3D laser scanning, high dynamic range photography, and standard survey techniques, officials said.

A 3D laser scanner will collect millions of individual data points, which can be used to create interior and exterior representations of the mighty warship.

The work will take four scanning teams and an additional crew concentrating on the interior of the five-story gun turret II, which was only recently opened to visitors as a new tour.

The imaging results will be used by the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial as a historical record and for ongoing maintenance and educational purposes.

But they have the added benefit of being usable as a virtual tour for visitors - especially aging veterans - who are unable to tour all of the ship, officials said.

"Never before has the battleship been documented this accurately," said Willard. "Using this new technology will give us the opportunity to really showcase the number II gun turret, featured in our newest premium tour, the 'Turret II Experience,' with three-dimensional views and cross sections never before seen."

Haag 3D Solutions annually selects one nonprofit historical structure to record and document visually for the public. Last year, the Historic Barclay Farmstead in Cherry Hill was laser-scanned and documented.

The firm "is dedicated to reaching out and providing our technology and experience to the community we live in," said Christopher Zmijewski, Haag vice president.

Leica Geosystems' high definition scanners "will be used to capture the historic Battleship New Jersey for the long-term benefit of the public and the ship's custodians," said Frank Lenik, technical sales representative for Leica Geosystems.   - Edward Colimore 

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