Journal Entry  -  October 8, 1999  -  Day 27

Friday Evening Position Report
8:00 p.m., Mountain Daylight Time
Latitude:

11 Degrees, 29 Minutes North

Longitude:

90 Degrees, 52 Minutes West  (This writer's latitudinal coastline reference in this morning's position report was not only misspelled, but was off by some 25 miles, and topping that, even in the wrong country!  The Golfo de Papagayo is in Costa Rica, not Nicaragua.  Our apologies.)

Days Run:

59.8 Nautical Miles

Speed:

4.98 Knots (Average)  running at reduced speed due to a fixed ETA of October 16 at the Panama Canal.

Total Run This Leg:  2,122.4 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.2 Knots
Hours / Days This Leg:  408.5 Hours, 17.02 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  825.4 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  7:00 a.m., Saturday, October 16, Balboa Sea Buoy, Panama
Present Course:  117 Degrees Southeasterly
Winds:  East at 10 Knots
Seas:  3 Feet
Swells:  7 Feet from the West-Southwest
Barometric Pressure:  1010 Millibars
Air Temperature:  78 Degrees
Sea Temperature:  77.5 Degrees
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Showers
Sea Floor:  Ocean depths beneath the USS New Jersey at this point are 1,955 Fathoms, or 11,730 Feet

Position:  USS New Jersey is now 137 Nautical Miles South-Southwest of Punta Remedios, El Salvador.  It is marked by a light and is low, cliffy and thickly covered with mangroves.  A foul area, with reefs and rocks, extends up to 2.5 miles seaward of the point.  A stranded wreck, with its hull visible at all stages of the tide, lies about 2.3 miles West-Northwest of the point, and reported to be conspicuous.

The port of Acajutla is nearby, and serves the region of Santa Ana in western El Salvador.  The town is a popular resort and includes an extensive industrial complex.

Fish Catch:  The total catch as of tonight, Friday, October 8 is: 24, including 4 Albacore, 4 Yellow Fin, 1 Yellow Tail, 4 Skipjack and 1 Bonita Tuna, 9 Mahi-mahi, and 1 Wahoo.  After three days of baited lines, nearly 200 miles, and no fish caught, the crew was lucky this afternoon. One Yellow Fin Tuna was hooked, boarded, cleaned and refrigerated.

BB-62 Website Visitor Questions And Answers

Question:  What is the exact location on the USS New Jersey where the tow line is connected; does it have to be inspected from time to time by the Sea Victory crew; and, when the Sea Victory gets underway from a full stop, does the tow line become taut and rise up out of the water?

Answer:  Captain Kaare Ogaard reports that the tow line is connected to the ship's own 3-3/8-inch diameter starboard anchor chain, which extends out from the ship's center bullnose.  The connection is not inspected at sea.  The connections are inspected at each intermediate port, Long Beach and Panama, and in Philadelphia for final reference.  No, the tow line does not become taut when the tug gets underway. Captain Ogaard applies power slowly and gently until both the Sea Victory and the Battleship are synchronized.

Question:  It is said that the Battleship has 12-inches of barnacle growth on her hull from sitting idle for many years in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.  It is also said that most of the growth will be scraped off going through the Canal.  How?  Also, will you be increasing speed once the growth is removed?

Answer:  Captain Ogaard says that some of the looser barnacle growth, and other accumulated marine debris, may or may not come free from the turbulence of going through the Canal's six locks.  However, the fresh water of Panama's Gatun Lake should effectively kill and remove any growth left on the hull.   Technically, the speed of the ship should increase the cleaner its hull is.

It can be noted here that the USS Missouri (BB-63) experienced a similar condition in 1998.  After her Sea Victory tow departure from Bremerton, she spent one week in Astoria, Oregon's fresh water port on the Columbia River before transiting to Pearl Harbor.  She is now a memorial there nearby the USS Arizona Memorial.  Inspection of Missouri's condition after that Columbia River bath revealed an absolutely clean hull.

Question:  Why will the USS New Jersey's route be to the west of Cuba? Why not to the east between Cuba and Haiti?

Answer:  Captain Ogaard's reasons against the "Windward Passage" route become clear with his explanation.  The Captain says he decided against a transit between Cuba and Haiti, on Hispanola, because he would have to buck strong trade winds, spend an extended period of time in an area with a still-active hurricane season, and be faced with few, if any, reliable ports of refuge in case of need.  The same applies to the alternate option of "Mona Passage," between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic on Hispanola

Beyond those determining factors, he notes that exiting from a Windward Passage or Mona Passage route would put the USS New Jersey on the windward side of the reefs and shoals of the Bahamas, an untenable position given a breakdown.

The Captain's choice of the Yucatan Passage still gives him the trade winds from Panama to Cuba, but his course will not be directly into them as with the other options.  Also, the Gulf of Mexico's "Gulf Stream" is a major factor.  USS New Jersey's intended trackline will be along the main axis of the Gulf Stream, very beneficial for her transit.  Beyond that, there are numerous ports of refuge of sufficient size to handle the "towing unit" along this route.

Question:  The October 3 evening journal reports that, according to the Panama Canal Commission's website information, many more vessels each year pass through the Canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific than from the Pacific to the Atlantic.  Why is that?

Answer:  We don't know.  Perhaps the Panama Canal Commission can answer the question.  We will attempt to find out.   The Commission's information contact points are:

Internet site = http://www.pancanal.com
Washington, D.C. telephone = (202) 634-6441

Question:  What are the contingency plans in place in case one of the water detection alarms goes off on the USS New Jersey?  If it was serious enough, would she be pulled towards shore?  Are the watertight doors secured on the ship?

Answer:  Captain Ogaard says in the event of a contingency, he would notify Crowley Marine Services immediately, and they would then notify the New Jersey State Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the custodian of the ship to Philadelphia.  A decision on the best course of action to take would be made.

Whether the ship would be taken to shore would depend on the decision process mentioned.  The Battleship is completely sealed.  Every compartment, hatch and opening has been securely sealed, a thorough process that took weeks to accomplish in Bremerton.

The ship is tightly secured from top to bottom, fore and aft.  Even if one compartment got flooded, the ship's total stability would not be affected.  It would be impossible for the tug's crew to effect the de-watering of the ship with existing equipment.  The likelihood of enough water entering the ship to affect its stability is nearly zero.

Question:  Does the Sea Victory still have her traveling companion, the goldfinch?

Answer:  No, "Goldie" probably left us in Long Beach, but Captain Ogaard has printed a picture of the golden finch, and has it posted in Sea Victory's galley.

Question:  When Sea Victory towed the battleship USS Missouri to Pearl Harbor, wasn't there a riding crew aboard, and if so, why isn't there one aboard New Jersey?

Answer:  There were no passengers aboard the USS Missouri either. Neither ship was certified for passengers.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.

 

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