Journal Entry  -  September 19, 1999  -  Day 8

Sunday Evening Position Report
8:00 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time

34 Degrees, 43 Minutes North


121 Degrees, 01 Minute West

Days Run:

57.6 Nautical Miles


4.8 Knots (Average)  reflecting a reduced speed to arrive at Long Beach Tuesday morning after daybreak.

Total Run:  1,020.5 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.73 Knots
Hours From Departure:  178 Hours or 7.42 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  161.9 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  8:00 a.m., Tuesday, September 21
Present Course:  147 Degrees to the Santa Barbara Channel
Winds: Northwesterly at 5 Knots
Seas:  Rippled Surface
Swells:  5 Feet from the Northwest
Barometric Pressure:  1015 Millibars
Air Temperature:  58 Degrees
Visibility:  Over 10 Miles
Skies:  Clear
Sea Floor:  The ocean depth beneath USS New Jersey in this area is 272 Fathoms or 1,632 Feet.  She remains within the boundaries of the Pacific Missile Range, and is passing through the Santa Lucia Bank and the Arguello Canyon.

Position:  Overcast skies broke loose today, bathing USS New Jersey in bright, southern California sunshine throughout the afternoon.   Tonight, the lights of Vandenburg Air Force Base are a welcome diversion to earlier nights of pitch black darkness in every direction. BB-62 is 20 Nautical Miles North-Northwest of Point Arguello.

"She Was Solid as a Rock..."

At 1:00 a.m., September 12, 1983, USS New Jersey departed Colon, Panama for the Mediterranean Sea and Lebanon.  Captain William M. Fogarty was under orders to proceed at high speed to respond to attacks against U.S. Marines on a peacekeeping mission in Beirut.

When she reached the waters of Puerto Rico, the all-out speed run paused for a quick change-of-command ceremony: Captain Richard Milligan relieved Captain Fogarty, who immediately flew off the battleship by helicopter to allow her to continue the run to the Mediterranean.

The Executive Officer of the USS New Jersey during that episode was Captain Richard McKenna.

"After the ceremony," McKenna said, "we put the pedal to the metal and clocked 28 knots with six boilers firing.  "The entire crossing, from Panama to Beirut, took twelve days, at an average speed of 25 knots.  "She performed very well, very steady," he said.  "She was solid as a rock throughout the trip."

McKenna is now the Deputy Executive Director of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Vessel Traffic Service, and is anxious to see New Jersey's arrival Tuesday.

"The last time I saw her," he said, "was at her decommissioning, February 8, 1991." Afterwards, he remembered, "They towed her on the way back to Bremerton right by my house.  I'm looking forward to seeing her again, and will ride out to take a look."

McKenna served on the "Big J" from 1981 to 1984, and recalls with a sense of immediacy what it was like to appear on the scene in Lebanon with the ship's complement of U.S. Marines aboard.

"We had the normal Marine Detachment," he recalled, "forty-two, forty-four men, two officers, a Master Sergeant, the troops." After the bombing of the Beirut Marine barracks on October 23, killing 241 American troops, "I had a lump in my throat," he said, "watching our Marine Detachment fly off to the scene by helicopter to search for victims and form a perimeter protection unit."

He recalled that during the Lebanon conflict, USS New Jersey in one day fired as many as 280 rounds, both 16 and 5-inch guns.  He said the battleship also lobbed specialty munitions which were just coming on the scene, "cookie cutters," he called them, air-burst munitions like grenades.

How does McKenna feel about his battleship moving to the east coast?

"The Los Angeles and Long Beach communities worked hard to have the ship here," he said.  "But we could never have hoped to compete with the USS New Jersey going to New Jersey.  So I'm thrilled to see her going there," he said.

McKenna will be on hand when the Sea Victory brings the battleship into his harbor waters Tuesday.  He won't be able to climb aboard her as before, but he'll be able to see her again in the waters she called her homeport for 13 years.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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