Journal Entry  -  October 22, 1999  -  Day 41

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

12 Degrees, 24 Minutes North

Longitude:

80 Degrees, 13 Minutes West

Days Run:

64.8 Nautical Miles

Speed:

5.4 Knots (Average)  running to meet a fixed ETA.

Total Run This Leg:  181.5 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.62 Knots
Hours / Days This Leg:  32.3 Hours / 1.33 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  1,915 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  3:00 p.m., Saturday, November 6, Cape Henlopen Sea Buoy, at the mouth of the Delaware River.
Present Course:  353 Degrees Northerly
Winds:  Northwest Airs
Seas:  Rippled Surface
Swells:  4 Feet from the East-Northeast
Barometric Pressure:  1010 Millibars
Air Temperature:  80 Degrees
Sea Temperature:  81 Degrees
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Partly Cloudy
Sea Floor:  Ocean depths beneath the USS New Jersey at this point are 2,965 Meters, or 9,726 Feet

Panama Canal Transit:  October 16 - 21 / Balboa Pier 14 - 15, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks, the Gaillard Cut, Gamboa, Lake Gatun, and the Gatun Locks, and Cristobal.  USS New Jersey's clearance into the Caribbean Sea / Atlantic Ocean was completed at 11:34 a.m., and her mark for the commencement of the Cristobal, Panama - Philadelphia, PA Third Leg was passed at 11:42 a.m., 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 homecoming voyage.
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 anchorage.
Total Average Speed First Leg:  5.54 Knots

Position:  The USS New Jersey is now passing 180 Nautical Miles off the Eastern coast of Nicaragua, called Costa de Miskitos.   Between the ship and the coastline, dotted and speckled with small islands, is Isla de San Andres.  This lengthy stretch of Nicaraguan coastal area is described as extremely remote, inaccessible, and rarely visited by outsiders, but rewards those who do arrive with stunningly beautiful beaches and off-shore cays.

Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean Cruises ...

Tonight's sunset, another in a dazzling series since that September 12 Bremerton departure, brings to mind great curiosity about the Jerseymen and their evenings aboard the great Battleship, when they weren't zigzagging their way out of harm's way, or headed to it, or even when they were.

They must have had time to appreciate the sea around them in the course of their duties.  They must have talked about their feelings to each other about approaching assignments, about moving into New Jersey's bombline position, or heading back to the states, or visiting another foreign port.

But those evenings underway, after dinner, when the seas were helpful and the air warm and easy, what parts of the ship were their favorites? Where would a young sailor stand or sit to spend a little time, maybe only seconds, maybe minutes, watching the glorious sun set to the West?  What did he think about?

He didn't have the luxury, probably, unless it was his job, to have an up-to-the-minute ship's report on heading, assignment, mission, danger, instructions, or threats.  He was just doing his job, aboard the Battleship, during a war or after one.  How recent was the last letter he received from his mom, or dad, or wife?  Did he have them still?  Or did he care?

The setting sun can call these kinds of thoughts in all of us.  But what did they call from within these young men at sea?

Since New Jersey's graceful departure Thursday morning from Panama, the voyage has been powerfully cooperative.  The journey Northward in the Caribbean Sea has been smooth and steady.  The weather has been delicious.   And the sunset tonight provocative.

The Jerseymen will hold dear their sunset time, and none of us will ever know.  Even the Sea Victory's sailors can be seen taking in such time, when duty is suspended for a few moments, and the meaning of their profession at sea is validated once again.

Still, in an effort to know and understand the lives, and especially the thoughts, of these Jerseymen, as they were off the Philippine Sea waiting for confrontation, or in the cold, bitter winter sea of Korea, or off-shore in Southeast Asia ready to bring New Jersey's firepower to bear helping Marines, or just cruising for thousands of miles in between, what did they feel and say to themselves then?

She was a great ship to watch the sea from and see nightfall created. There are a thousand hideaways from which to steal a secret glance. And a thousand more to harvest a memory, or send a secret thought homeward, to a family in waiting, to a friend praying for his safety, his return, to a nation, grateful.

Sunsets at sea.  There's something about them.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.

 

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