Journal Entry  -  September 15, 1999  -  Day 4

Wednesday Morning Position Report
8:00 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time
Latitude: 43 Degrees, 54 Minutes North
Longitude: 125 Degrees, 20 Minutes West
Days Run: 69 Nautical Miles from last evening's 8:00 p.m. report
Speed: 5.76 Knots (Average)

Total Run:  408 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.83 Knots
Hours From Departure:  70 Hours from Blake Island, Puget Sound
Distance To Go This Leg:  774 Nautical Miles to Long Beach, California for Refueling
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  8:00 a.m., September 21st
Present Course:  180 Degrees due South
Seas2 Feet
Swells:  8 Feet Northwesterly
Air Temperature:  57 Degrees
Visibility:  10 miles
Skies:  Low Overcast

Position:  USS New Jersey is 51 nautical miles due west of the Oregon coast's Sand Dunes, and 55 nautical miles west northwest of the Umpqua River which flows into the Pacific Ocean just beyond the logging port town of Reedsport, Oregon in Winchester Bay.

High-Speed Change Of Command Anniversary

On September 15, 1983, at sea near Puerto Rico, the USS New Jersey and her crew witnessed an atypical U.S. Navy change-of-command ceremony.

The battleship had been running at high speed on her way to the Mediterranean Sea after being suddenly ordered to get to Lebanon as fast as possible from her previous position in the Pacific waters of Panama 3 days earlier.  She refueled in Colon, Panama, on the Atlantic side, at 1:00 a.m., September 12, and began her 30-plus knot sprint eastward.

During this transit, USS New Jersey's 16th Commander, Captain Richard D. Milligan, relieved her 15th Commander, Captain William M. Fogarty. Afterwards, Milligan resumed her high-speed run to Lebanon.  The two commanders were responsible for getting her there in 12 days from the Panama Canal, at an average speed of 25 knots.

Fogarty had assumed command just after Christmas Day, 10 months earlier, on December 28, 1982, when the battleship was recommissioned for her fourth career.  She was modernized in 1981 and 1982 at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard after being towed from the Puget Sound Inactive Ship Facility in Bremerton, Washington.

The modernization replaced four twin 5-inch gun mounts with 4 Phalanx Close-in weapons systems, 16 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, 8 armored box launchers capable of carrying 32 Tomahawk cruise missiles, and a brand new mast for her superstructure.

At USS New Jersey's recommissioning ceremonies that December, she was honored not only with a new commission, but with the Commander-in-Chief, President Ronald Reagan, aboard to officiate her formal re-entry into the U.S. Naval Fleet.  It was the first and only time in New Jersey's 57-year career that a President of the United States stepped across her polished, teak decks.

Following Captain Milligan's command assumption on this day 16 years ago, USS New Jersey would spend the next 191 days in the Beirut Operations Area, and 178 of those days would be on station in the eastern Mediterranean in a condition of Readiness III or higher.

"Big Blue Eyes" was back.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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