Journal Entry  -  October 15, 1999  -  Day 34

Friday Morning Position Report
8:00 a.m., Central Daylight Time
Latitude:

8 Degrees, 29 Minutes North

Longitude:

79 Degrees, 27 Minutes West

Days Run:

62.3 Nautical Miles

Speed:

5.19 Knots (Average)

Total Run This Leg:  2,925.5 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.19 Knots
Hours / Days This Leg:  563.5 Hours, 23.48 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  23.2 Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  12:30 p.m., today, Friday, October 15, Balboa Anchorage.
Present Course:  3 Degrees North
Winds:  West-Southwest at 10 Knots
Seas:  1 Foot
Swells:  4 Feet from the South-Southwest
Barometric Pressure:  1011.5 Millibars
Air Temperature:  80 Degrees
Sea Temperature:  80 Degrees
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Mostly Cloudy
Sea Floor:  Ocean depths beneath the USS New Jersey at this point are 58 Fathoms, or 348 Feet and decreasing.

Position:   USS New Jersey is on her final approach to Balboa.  She is now 23.2 Miles South of the Balboa Anchorage where she will remain overnight.  The island-studded Gulf of Panama this morning gives New Jersey's entry a feeling of welcome.  The 33-day effort to reach this place now rewards the voyager with sparkles of history, a century of achievement on the eve of a millennium.  A proud Battleship gracing a proud people.

"A Chain Of Islands, Rocks and Sunken Dangers ..."

The USS New Jersey this morning is on her cautious and steady approach to Balboa, and the advice to mariners entering the Gulf of Panama and the holding area at the Balboa anchorage warns of hazards if vessels stray from traditional tracklines.

No fear of that, though, with Captain Kaare Ogaard.   He's been monitoring sea floor depth, radar signatures of inbound and outbound ship traffic, and maintaining contact with the Panama Canal Commission's coordination point at Flamenco Island Signal station, just South of the channel entrance to the Balboa Port Terminal.  All eyes ahead, all ears aware.

The USS New Jersey is expected to be at her anchor position shortly after noon today.  Then, tomorrow she will proceed beneath the Bridge of the Americas and into Balboa for berthing.  The easy approach Northward this morning into the upper Gulf of Panama, which becomes the Bahia de Panama, reminds one of the countless movies about the islands of the South Pacific, strung one after the other, in all shapes, sizes and attitudes, all formed by nature's volcanic upheavals millions of years ago.  After a deep ocean passage, these dots of earth have the appeal of a movie, and with the Battleship in tow, the romance is sharper.

Panama City's high-rise coastal frontage is becoming visible during this approach, and the volume of vessel traffic has increased considerably. Radio traffic, a rarity in the open ocean, is commonplace now on the airwaves of Balboa.

There is much to see now, much to learn, and in the next few days, much to share.  USS New Jersey will be eased into her anchorage today, and tomorrow, and for the next few days, she will be the honored guest of a people whose responsibility is to shepherd the world's vessels through a small passage in one of nature's most impressive continental creations. They will care for her as one of their own.  And her caretakers from New Jersey will also be here.

An historic arrival, her last, and a short layover after the Pacific's grand sea carriage.  Then, into another sea, where as I write, nature is speaking with an angrier voice.  But, as Governor Christie Whitman noted for the Pompton Lakes 4th graders, this ship has been blessed with good fortune, and we have no reason to question or deny her.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.

 

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