Journal Entry  -  September 25, 1999  -  Day 14

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

25 Degrees, 55 Minutes North


114 Degrees, 02 Minutes West

Days Run:

62.6 Nautical Miles


5.22 Knots (Average)  running at reduced speed due to a fixed ETA of October 16 at the Panama Canal.

Total Run This Leg:  518.9 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.32 Knots
Hours / Days This Leg:  97.5 Hours, 4.06 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  2,428.9 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  October 16
Present Course:  141 Degrees, Southwesterly to Cabo San Lucas, at the tip of Baja California.
Winds:  Northwest at 20 Knots
Seas & Swells:  Combined at 7 Feet
Barometric Pressure:  1013 Millibars
Air Temperatures: 
65 Degrees
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Overcast
Sea Floor:  The ocean depth beneath the USS New Jersey in this area is 1,700 Fathoms, or 10,200 Feet.

Position: USS New Jersey is now 54 Nautical Miles Southwest of Whale Bay, Bahia de Ballenas.  This is described as an open bay with regular depths shoaling gradually to its head.  The shores of the bay are extremely low and sandy, except for a few bluffs at the west side.  In winter, this bay is frequented by whales.

Observation:  In the 01-level passageway of the Sea Victory is a glass-enclosed cabinet with U.S. Coast Guard licenses posted of the tug's Captain, Chief Mate, Second Mate and Chief Engineer.

Also posted is Crowley Marine Services' Quality Policy, which reads, in its entirety: "We will provide services for our customers in conformance with established procedures and requirements.  Our work will be done right, the first time, every time."

It is our challenge to live up to the same policy with these reports, which we are still trying to achieve.  This morning, in reporting the information exchange with the Mexican Navy, we identified Channel-16 as the radio frequency used for initial contact.  The quotes in the story occurred on Channel-14 after both parties switched over, at the Navy's request.

Two Reflections From A Battleship Post

- September 26, 1983.  On this day, the USS New Jersey arrived off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon, after a high-speed, all-out run from Panama. Captain Richard D. Milligan had just assumed command of BB-62 in waters off Puerto Rico and his orders were clear: get to Lebanon and show the battleship's flag.

Beirut had been the scene of much conflict previously, requiring the presence of U.S. Marines in the summer of 1982 as part of a United Nations' peacekeeping force. The Marines were taking regular fire, and the New Jersey was dispatched to bring to the Mediterranean table some big-gun diplomacy.  For a time, it worked.

One month later, on an early Sunday morning, October 23, the situation dramatically changed.  Until then, the Marines were targets from all directions, but the situation seemed manageable.  Then, a suicide- terrorist drove a bomb-laden car into the Marine barracks killing 241. The Beirut Massacre, it was termed.

One of those killed that morning was USS New Jersey's Chief Electronics Technician Michael Gorchinski.  He went ashore from the "J" the day before to help the Marines with a radar problem they were having.   He was caught unaware, as were the Marines, and made the ultimate sacrifice with them.

A dedicated Jerseyman became a victim that morning of a conflict, on foreign soil, that couldn't be stopped in time.  The ship's executive officer, Captain Richard McKenna, calling Gorchinski "our shipmate," said the remainder of the New Jersey's cruise was dedicated to his memory. They departed Lebanon in April of 1984.

- September 15, 1945, Wakayama, Japan.  World War II was over.  The instruments of surrender were signed aboard the New Jersey's sister-ship USS Missouri, September 2 in Tokyo Bay.  BB-62 arrived in Wakayama, on the eastern entrance to the Inland Sea of Japan, where American and allied prisoners-of-war were being taken home.

Gunner's Mate George Chestnut was there that day.   "There were lots of prisoners-of-war there, Americans," he said.   "We rescued all of them. We were the back-up forces ordered there to do it.   It was a big bunch of prisoners, hundreds," Chestnut recalled.

"They put them all on LSTs, then aboard ships.   They were treated real good then," he said, "because everyone had been afraid they'd be killed, you know, so they had to get them out.  I talked to one of them," Chestnut said.  "But I couldn't talk to them, they looked so bad, so sad looking, I didn't want to talk to them.  I wanted them to be at home.  I wanted them to get home."

Asked whether he was anxious to return home, Chestnut said no.  "I was in no hurry to get home, no, no.  But they came out with a point system, and the longer you were overseas, the more points.  I had sixty points. If you had forty or more, you could go.  I had sixty, so I was one of the first ones to leave the New Jersey. We loved her," Chestnut said, from his Kirkland, Washington residence.

(Our continuing thanks to Paul Stillwell and the Naval Institute Press in Annapolis, Maryland, publisher of his book: "Battleship New Jersey - An Illustrated History," from which we have drawn detail and perspective throughout this journey.)

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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