Journal Entry  -  September 22, 1999  -  Day 11

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

31 Degrees, 27 Minutes North


117 Degrees, 18 Minutes West

Days Run:

65.9 Nautical Miles


5.49 Knots (Average)  Due to a speed adjusted to arrive at the confirmed estimated-time-of-arrival at Balboa, Panama of October 16

Total Run This Leg:   139.7 Nautical Miles from the Long Beach Sea Buoy
Total Average Speed:  5.48 Knots
Hours From Departure:  25.5 Hours
Distance To Go This Leg:  2,808 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time OF Arrival:  October 16
Present Course:  161 Degrees
Winds:  Northwest, Brisk at 20 Knots
Seas & Swells:  Combined Northwest at 6 Feet
Barometric Pressure:  1015 Millibars
Air Temperature:  64 Degrees
Visibility:  Over 10 Miles
Skies:  Mostly Cloudy
Sea Floor:  The ocean depth below us ranges widely from 795 to 1,427 Fathoms, or 4,770 to 8,562 Feet.

Position:   USS New Jersey is towing well this evening, currently 42 Nautical Miles Southwest of Ensenada, Mexico which translates as "inlet" in English.  On the North of the inlet is Punta San Miguel, and on the South, Punta Banda.  The Sierra San Pedro Martin Mountains rise 3,095 Feet in altitude farther inland.  The towns of Maneadero and La Bufadora are just South of Ensenada.

Correction:  Our apologies to the melodic Spanish language.  In the Tuesday evening Long Beach departure report, the Spanish word for "hello" was mis-spelled; it should have read: "Hola Panama."

In the Naval SoCal Op-Area"

At 12:30 p.m. today, Second Mate Mike Poirier was in the Sea Victory's pilothouse, as he is every afternoon from noon to 4:00 p.m., and again from midnight to 4:00 a.m.  Nothing appeared on the radar screen to provoke inquiry, and the radios were quiet.

USS New Jersey followed well behind, by thousands of feet, always a presence.  The tow wire between the tug's stern and the battleship's bull-nose, totally submerged hundreds of feet below the ocean's surface, creates a catenary -- a curve formed by the wire and chain supported only at its ends.

The Mate looked back at his charge once again, as he would throughout the watch. All was well.

Then suddenly, as radio contact interrupted this solitary effort, the environment shifted from calm routine to a snap-to attention.  A crisp, young male voice presented itself on the tug's VHF Distress and Calling Channel-16.

"USS Anchorage ... Sea Victory ... requesting your course, speed and intentions," the authoritative voice said.  "We're zero-four-zero, five knots."

Poirier responded immediately with the Sea Victory and New Jersey's location.  "We're now one-and-sixty-one degrees true, our speed is five-point-eight knots ...over."

No extraneous chat, just raw, definitive information.   Precision is the life-blood of this business of sea steerage, position and navigation, and when it's the U.S. Navy calling, all else waits.

"Anchorage, understand, "the Navy radioman responded instantly. "One-six-one, speed of five knots.  My intention is to come to port, and take you starboard-to-starboard. Do you concur with that?  "He fired his words, as out of a Gatling, leaving no need for question.

"Yes, that should be fine, I have no problem with that at all," the Second Mate answered.

"Understood.  We'll be altering our course to approximately three-three-zero, and maintain a speed of approximately five knots.   This is USS Anchorage standing by on Channel one-six, out."

"Thanks for the report," Poirier responded. "Sea Victory out."

The Navy ship could be seen, dimly, in the foggy distance off Sea Victory's starboard bow.  The question now was exactly what kind of vessel was she, and how close would she come to the event of their day, an approach to the "The Big J."

Poirier's curiosity emerged with a call to the ship shortly thereafter. "Calling the USS Anchorage, this is Sea Victory."

"This is Anchorage, over."

"Good afternoon again," Poirier said.   "We were curious what kind of Navy ship is that?"

"This is Anchorage...  Class LSD," came the response, this time from another voice, deeper, probably older, more seasoned.   "We're first and probably going to be the last in our class... as well as that old-timer you're towing behind you," said the newer Navy voice.

"Okay," said the Mate.  "This'll be the last chance to get some pictures, on this coastline anyway," he advised.

"That's affirm ... yeah, we've already passed the word out to the crew, and we've slowed down a little bit... we came down to five knots so our people can take a look at the last time they'll see a battleship underway," the Anchorage voice explained.

"Yes, it's kind of underway, I guess... if you guys want to, you could probably get a little closer, no problem with that," he suggested.

"Roger... we'll try to stay out of your way here, though... looks like you've got a big haul there, "came the Navy response, attentive to the situation.

"And got a little ways to go, too..." said Poirier.

"Roger ... well, take care, and we'll be standing by on one-six," said the Anchorage, ending their exchange.

"Okay ... thanks for the information, appreciate it, and good sailing to you guys.  This is Sea Victory...."

Earlier today, Captain Ogaard learned by an email exchange with the USS Bonhomme Richard that she and her crew would not be approaching New Jersey after all.  Instead, they were off to another part of the Southern California Operations area.

YNCS John Lewis said they tried to rendezvous on our trackline, but operational requirements took them to the Northeast, nearer Camp Pendleton, California, for exercises there with the Marines.  He expressed the crew's disappointment.  Ogaard, too, thought about his.

Lewis said their primary mission is to embark and deploy elements of a Marine landing force in amphibious assault operations by helicopter, landing craft, or amphibious vehicle.  He said the Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of a force made up of the dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor and the amphibious transport dock USS Denver.

Had she come by, her size would have closely matched New Jersey's in a camera frame.  Lewis reported that her length is 844 feet long with a 106-foot beam.  The Philadelphia-built battleship is 887 feet long with a 108-foot beam.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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