Journal Entry  -  September 16, 1999  -  Day 5

Thursday Evening Position Report
8:00 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time
Latitude: 40 Degrees, 20 Minutes North
Longitude: 125 Degrees, 14 Minutes West
Days Run: 71.2 Nautical Miles from this morning's position
Speed: 5.93  Knots (Average)

Total Run:  621.5 nautical miles
Total Average Speed:  5.86 knots
Hours From Departure:  106 hours
Distance To Go This Leg:  560.9 nautical miles to Long Beach re-fueling
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  8:00 a.m., Tuesday, September 21
Present Course:  180 due South which will shift Eastward by later tonight
Seas and Swells:  Combined 12 Feet
Wind:  North at 25 Knots
Barometric Pressure:  1019 Millibars
Air Temperature:  57 Degrees
Visibility: 10 Miles
Skies:  Clear

Position:  USS New Jersey is now 38 nautical miles west of Cape Mendocino, California, which is just south of Humboldt Bay.  This course off-shore keeps her well away from the North-South shipping lanes. Closer to the major American port of San Francisco, increased shipping traffic East-West will increase, according to Captain Ogaard.

"Big J's" Septembers Remembered

On September 16, 1940, at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, the USS New Jersey's keel was laid, and she was becoming the second of the Iowa Class Battleships, which later included the Missouri and Wisconsin.

Her construction took a speedy 15 months, after which she was launched on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1942, propelling her to a 57-year career spanning four wars, four separate commissionings and an unequaled combat record among battleships.

Once committed to the Pacific Theater in World War II, she was based on Ulithi Atoll.  Beginning in September, 1944, USS New Jersey and her crew would see eight straight months of decisive action in the waters off the Philippines, Okinawa, and Formosa, striking repeatedly at enemy fortified airfields, shipping, shore bases, and invasion beaches.

By the following September, 1945, her guns fell quiet as the Instruments of Surrender were signed by the Japanese aboard New Jersey's sister ship, Missouri in Tokyo Bay.  Some BB-62 veterans have expressed the notion that their battleship would have been selected as the site of the surrender had President Harry Truman not been from Missouri.

But it really mattered not; the four-year war was over.   During her 19 months of Pacific wartime service, she logged more than 200,000 miles, and shot down 20 Japanese aircraft.

In September, 1951, she found herself recommissioned and into another conflict in Asia, the Korean war, a United Nations effort which even today, 48 years later, has American troops on South Korea's frontlines as peacekeepers.   Jersey's big guns supported troops that year in Wonsan, Yangyang and Kansong.

In September of 1955, she departed Norfolk, Virginia for her first tour of duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean with ports of call in Gilbratar, Valencia, Cannes, Istanbul, Suda Bay, and Barcelona.

Her third career began in April, 1968, and by September 17th., she was on her way to Vietnam under Captain J. Edward Snyder.  While headed to the Philippines from Pearl Harbor, using the great circle route, typhoons Carmen and Della forced the battleship to pass south of Guam and slow to 23 knots, according to Snyder.

That afternoon, a pair of Russian TU-95D naval reconnaissance aircraft made three passes over the dreadnought to check on the world's only active battleship headed to their sphere of influence.  Snyder reports that the surveillance aircraft flew in as low as 1,000 feet, prompting him to announce to the crew: "Smile ... you're on candid camera!"

The following day, Carmen's cyclonic winds reached 60 knots, and the Captain ordered the ship to slow down to 21 knots, sheltering the guided missile destroyer USS Tower accompanying her to Subic Bay.  Later that month, she commenced firing her guns for the first time in 16 years against targets near the Vietnam Demilitarized Zone, and the day after that on targets north of it.

By September, 1969, she was ordered to mothballs, not to be re-activated and modernized until 1981-82, then recommissioned for duty in the Navy's anticipated 600-ship fleet.  By September, 1983, she was in Central American Pacific waters, then off to the Mediterranean and Lebanon "for the foreseeable future," pursuant to the Chief of Naval Operations.

In September, 1985, Captain Richard D. Milligan became New Jersey's 17th. Commanding Officer, and by 1987, Captain D.J. Katz had become her 18th skipper.  In 1988, she cruised to Asia and Australia then back to Hawaii and Long Beach.  In September, 1989, she participated in dependent's cruises, exercises, the Seattle Seafair, and WESTPAC '89 joint allied force exercises.

By September, 1990, New Jersey, with her 19th. Commander, was fully involved in the final decommissioning.

If there is ever a question about her value to the nation for 57 years, on the gunlines or bomblines, or protecting destroyers from violent typhoons and rescuing downed pilots, or hosting visitors at home ports, or re-fittings, re-commissionings, or even re-evaluations, let a President's words reveal her import:

"A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace."

So said President Theodore Roosevelt, December 2, 1902, in his second annual message to Congress.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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Line Drawing of Big J

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