Journal Entry  -  September 29, 1999  -  Day 18

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

20 Degrees, 19 Minutes North


107 Degrees, 27 Minutes West

Days Run:

64.1 Nautical Miles


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

Total Run This Leg:  1,021.2 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.3 Knots
Hours / Days This Leg:  192.5 Hours, 8.02 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  1,926 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  7:00 a.m., Saturday, October 16, Balboa Sea Buoy
Present Course:  125 Degrees South by Southeast
Winds:  Northwest at 15 Knots
Seas & Swells:  Combined at 8 Feet
Barometric Pressure:  1008 Millibars
Air Temperature:  80 Degrees
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Overcast, Showers and Electrical activity on the horizon, lightning visible ahead associated with rain squalls indicated on the Sea Victory's radar.   Captain Ogaard reports that this kind of weather will remain along this coastal region until the USS New Jersey reaches the Gulf of Tehuantepec.
Sea Floor:  Below the New Jersey the ocean depth is 1,840 Fathoms, or 11,040 Feet.

Position:  USS New Jersey is now 98 Nautical Miles off-shore of Cabo Corrientes, meaning "currents" in English, and rightly so.  During the summer, the current occurring between Cabo Corrientes and Bahia de Manzanillo ranges from practically nil to about two knots, according to "Sailing Directions," published by the U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency, Bethesda, Maryland.  The tidal currents are superimposed on the current off the cape causing this velocity.  The Mexican West coast town of Puerto Vallarta is also along this area of the Pacific coast.  This is the town made famous by the film "Night of the Iguana," starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

The "J-S Talker" Recalls Bremerton To Panama

In January, 1947, sailors reported to the USS New Jersey, then in Bremerton's Puget Sound Naval Shipyard dry dock, just like Harold Gill did.   The war had been over for 16 months.  Virtually all the Jerseymen who served earlier had gone home.  The Battleship was overhauled after her Pacific service, and it was time for new duties, at a new homeport, on another coast.

Seaman First Class Gill, now living in Berkley, California, said only 800 men made up her '47 complement, compared to 2,400 in the Pacific Theatre.  He had been in the Navy for a year by then, but knew nothing about this Battleship's operations.  Nor, he said, did most of the others. His job was radarman, but he needed duty aboard the New Jersey to learn it.  And it came quicker than he thought.

"We trained on the ship," Gill said.   "There was only one plank owner left, but we learned rapidly because we stood a lot of watches," he recalled.  "Everyone was post-World War II except one on the crew.  His name was Billos 'The Greek,' ... we called everybody by their last names. He was a plank owner."

"Because we were radarmen, we had 35 route stations around the ship," Gill explained.  "We had to take daily tours of the ship, so we probably knew more places on the ship than many of the crew.  Engineers," he said, "never came topside."

The New Jersey left Bremerton that year in March, and headed down basically the same trackline she's taking now with the Sea Victory.  The difference, according to Gill's recollections, is that she traveled closer to the coast, always within sight of land, and cruised about 12 to 15 knots. Of course, she was not under tow that year either.  And she was also able to display her massive firepower on that cruise.

"We did a speed run through part of Puget Sound," he said, "which made me wonder what happened to boats along the shore, and later on the Atlantic coast we did a sustained speed run."

The radarman operated often on the bridge with Captain Leon J. Huffman, who after reaching Bayonne, New Jersey's new homeport, was relieved of command on her fourth birthday, May 23, 1947.

"We quickly became a crew, so we were really a work in progress," Gill related.  "During that cruise from Bremerton to Long Beach, we did a good deal of travelling around, shooting the 40 millimeters, the 20 millimeters, 5-inch and 16-inch guns in order for the crew to get somewhat proficient, then we stopped in Long Beach," he said.

"On the 40s and 20s, we were aiming at balloons that were let out from the stern of the ship.  Subsequently, we fired at some World War II radio-controlled propeller aircraft, which would have a mother ship with it, and we also fired at tow targets.  I didn't have too much to do with those guys, because we were not fire-control radar, we were in the surface radar, and the air search radar," said Gill.

"For the big guns, we plotted the ship a minute ahead of time, so that main battery plot would have a minute to setup for firing the 16-inch guns," Gill explained.  "Usually, for that duty, I was up topside, on the bridge or, well ... I was all over the place.

"I ended up mostly as J-S Talker on the bridge," he said.  "J-S Talker is the radarman on the bridge, who relays information from the Combat Information Center (CIC), to the bridge, whatever it is, navigating, whatever, and that's a particular sound-powered telephone circuit and, of course, the skipper had a command circuit which was also in CIC."

From his vantage point, and because of his duty as a radarman, Gill was required to work long hours and take long walks throughout the Battleship's inner core.  He has more to relate here, as the USS New Jersey of 1999 continues her journey down the same Pacific pathway that she took 52 years ago with Harold Gill aboard, J-S Talker, he was called.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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