Journal Entry  -  September 14, 1999  -  Day 3

Tuesday Morning Position Report
8:00 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time
Latitude: 46 Degrees, 14 Minutes, 5 Seconds North
Longitude: 125 Degrees, 17 Minutes, 7 Seconds West
Days Run: 70 Nautical Miles from Monday Evening's Report
Speed: 5.85 Knots (Average)

Total Run:  268 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:   5.83 Knots
Hours From Departure: 46 Hours
Distance To Go This Leg:  914 Nautical Miles
Estimated Tome Of Arrival:  Tuesday, September 21
Present Course:  180 Degrees due South until Latitude 40 Degrees North
Seas:  Sea Surface Rippled
Swells:  5 Feet West Northwest
Air Temperature:  60 Degrees
Visibility:  Overcast, Low Ceiling

Position:  USS New Jersey is now 50 nautical miles due west of the Columbia River, the boundary separating the states of Washington and Oregon.  The mouth of Portland's Willamette River is 92 miles up the Columbia from its Pacific entrance.   With overcast skies and a greater distance from shore, no land is visible.

A Day Of Battleship Gray

After a week in Seattle and Bremerton, making final preparations for an early Sunday morning departure, the sudden, unexpected overcast this morning sent a gentle signal of change to the earlier feelings of sunny days are here forever.

One can only imagine how the crew of the USS New Jersey would accept a day of gray as they cruised to another   Task Force rendezvous, or prepared to receive orders for bomb line duty once again.  What private thoughts captured their attention?  How long would it be this time?  How great the danger?   How's the family back home?

Seeing "Big Blue Eyes" behind the Sea Victory 3,919-feet away, with her stem cutting through the sea surface just fast enough to create a little whitewater, invites questions of those men during earlier times.  She received the blue-eyes' nickname from Air Force combat pilots flying over her and spotting two huge blue swimming pool circles on her forward and after decks during the Vietnam years.  The name stuck.

Her journey for the past twelve hours has been steady and clean. Chief Mate Terry Jacobsen, standing the 4:00 - 8:00 a.m. watch, reported various fishing fleets along the way, requiring minor course corrections to assure safety and navigational comfort.

Yesterday afternoon, two U.S. Coast Guard aircraft over flew her numerous times to either capture photography or steal another close-up view of her massive superstructure and daunting presence, even while under tow.  Having the 45,000-ton steel symbol of authority trailing behind, and inescapable with every glance backward, reminds the observer each time of her tradition and the meaning of this journey.

In September, 1968, thirty-one years ago, she was the world's only active battleship, as she assumed her third combat career.  She had departed her Long Beach homeport for Pearl Harbor, Subic Bay in the Philippines, and by September 30 was firing her 16-inch guns for the first time in sixteen years along the Vietnam coast near the Demilitarized Zone, the 17th Parallel, the DMZ.

In the next two months on the Vietnamese gun line, she would fire nearly ten thousand rounds of ammunition.  More than 3,000 of those shells were 16-inch projectiles.

This morning, only the gray of her speaks.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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