Panama Canal Transit:
16 - 20 / Balboa Pier 14 - 15, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks, the Gaillard Cut,
Gamboa, Lake Gatun, and the Gatun Locks. One night's layover in Cristobal before
departing for the Atlantic on Thursday, October 21.
Distance Of Second Leg: September 21 - October 15 / Long Beach, CA
to Balboa Anchorage, Panama: 2,948.7 Nautical Miles, the longest leg of New Jersey's
Total Average Speed Second Leg: 5.18 Knots
Distance Of First Leg: September 12 - 21 / Bremerton, WA to Long Beach,
CA: 1,193.6 Nautical Miles from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to Long Beach, CA
Total Average Speed First Leg: 5.54 Knots
The USS New Jersey tonight is docked at
Pier 7-A&B in Cristobal, Panama. She was towed from the Gatun Locks this
afternoon by the Sea Victory, and assisted by four Panama Canal Commission tugs to her
The "Big J" Takes The Canal In Stride ...
Now Heads North
The veteran Battleship's tenth and final passage through
the Panama Canal during the past three days brings to an end any questions about her
making it through successfully as a "dead ship tow," and now opens up a new
chapter for those writing her history.
For as she has left the Pacific behind for the last time,
and dealt easily with the jewel of Central America's geographic lifeline, the USS New
Jersey begins the third and final segment of her homecoming journey tomorrow, as the
future she faces along the way, and especially at her destination, remains an untold
No one can predict, of course, the nature of conditions
facing her journey from this notorious gateway port town to the Delaware, just as
speculation about her final donation site is speculative at best. Whatever transpires,
however, in either case, will be grist for the observers and chroniclers in times ahead.
As she turns Northward tomorrow, after exiting Panama's
crowded commercial Atlantic stepping stone to the Pacific, the ship will head for places
with some names that belong in sea fiction - Serranilla Bank and the Yucatan Channel,
Banco Sancho Pardo and Pasa Honda, then, of course, the more familiar Florida Keys,
Carysfort Reef, Charleston, Hatteras, Ocean City and Henlopen.
What surprises have those places for this homeward
warrior? Certainly nothing greater than she's known before. And what of her
future once home? Authorities confirm that a U.S. Navy decision on her donation site
will come no later than January, 2000, and could well be announced before then.
Uncertainty may be a part of her future, but it has not
been part of her journey so far. The Grand Lady's passage from Bremerton to Balboa
was as ideal as sailors in this business can ask for. Her almost routine, and
definitely jubilant movement through the three sets of Canal Locks was picture perfect,
from the perspective of the Sea Victory's team to those responsible for the Canal.
The pride on the faces of Canal workers from Miraflores
to Gatun, and among the authorities throughout the system who work closely with the Sea
Victory, reveals the import that the New Jersey carries with her.
As for her passage through the Locks, and the Canal
itself, only superlatives apply.
To watch the operation of the system is to witness
mystery become fascination, admiration and amazement, at its scope, its engineering, its
sheer ability to cradle huge vessels, absolutely tremendous cargo carriers, in its liquid
elevator to a height of 85 feet to manage the passage across and through the Central
American nation's excavated waterway, then down the other side an equivalent 85 feet to
once again achieve sea level.
The Battleship entered each of these Locks -- Miraflores
Monday, Pedro Miguel Tuesday, and Gatun today -- and simply let the water do the heavy
As filling a basin and watching a floatable object rise
85 feet right along with the water level. Truly a remarkable and astonishing process
So the USS New Jersey was bathed and lowered through the
final downward steps today, and now rests on a dock in Cristobal awaiting a Thursday
departure, when she will be at sea again where she travels best. Then the newest
chapters of her history will begin to unfold.
Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.