On a 1983 episode of the television program “Prime Time”, Jim O’Brien did a segment on New Jersey wreck diving, interviewing Bob Yates and Deb Whitcraft. During that interview, Deb spoke of her quest for knowledge about different wrecks and New Jersey maritime disasters. She also stated that she had started collecting this information, and other items pertaining to New Jersey maritime history, and that she hoped to one day have a place to display her collection. On July 3rd, 2007, Deb’s lifelong ambition came to fruition when the Museum of New Jersey Maritime History opened its doors.
In the years between the program and the museum opening, Deb actively pursued her quest, working with other New Jersey maritime historians, and amassing a sizable collection of shipwreck files and artifacts. This collection comprised almost all of the museum’s material when it opened. In the eight years since it opened, the museum has grown at an amazing rate, thanks to the donations and loans from the diving community and the public in general.
Although the museum was built entirely with private funds, it is now a registered non-profit entity, and deed restricted to remain so. It operates entirely on donations and is staffed by a small group of dedicated volunteers. The museum is open all year long, Friday through Sunday in the off season, and seven days a week during the summer.