Journal Entry  -  October 10, 1999  -  Day 29

Sunday Morning Position Report
8:00 a.m., Central Daylight Time

10 Degrees, 09 Minutes North


88 Degrees, 13 Minutes West

Days Run:

61 Nautical Miles


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

Total Run This Leg:  2,299.1 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.18 Knots
Hours / Days This Leg:  443.5 Hours, 18.48 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  648.7 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  7:00 a.m., Saturday, October 16, Balboa Sea Buoy, Panama
Present Course:  117 Degrees Southeasterly
Winds:  West-Southwest at 10 Knots
Seas:  1 Foot
Swells:  7 Feet from the West-Southwest
Barometric Pressure:  1011 Millibars
Air Temperature:  79 Degrees
Sea Temperature:  79 Degrees
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Broken Overcast
Sea  Floor:  The ocean depths beneath yesterday's track, and at today's point of USS New Jersey's passage, are deeper than nearly all, if not all, of her transit so far, charted at 3,191 Fathoms or 19,146 Feet.

Position:   The Battleship New Jersey is now 160 Nautical Miles West- Southwest of the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Panama's immediate neighbor to the West.  Six days from this morning, she will be approaching her berth in Balboa, Panama for a mid-passage welcome and celebration, a respite, and a farewell send-off through the famous Canal locks, then on to her Delaware River destination.

Time:   The Sea Victory's clocks advanced one hour at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning to conform to the Eastward advancement of the USS New Jersey's track to Panama.

Birthday Correction:  Birthday Correction:  In yesterday morning's report, we calculated that if the U.S. Marine Corps was formed in 1775, and celebrated its birthday next month, November 10th, the Corps would be 204 years old.  Wrong! Make that 224 years.  Thank you, Major Randy Peterson, USMC, on duty in the Republic of Panama.

"She Was Known as a Very Lucky Ship"

A fourth grader at Lenox Elementary School's social studies class last Thursday in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, asked the visiting VIP teacher   Did anyone on the USS New Jersey ever die in battle during her career?

Remarkably, the Battleship's 57-year, 4-war history has recorded only one shipboard casualty.  Seaman Cook Robert Osterwind.  On the morning of May 21, 1951, with the Jersey's hook still buried in the harbor of Wonsan, Korea, Osterwind took a slug of shrapnel through his life vest from North Korean mountain cave fire that also managed to strip thick steel plating off one of the ship's turrets.   Before the injured sailor reached the Battleship's casualty treatment center, he was dead.  Her only official onboard casualty.

Another Jerseyman fell to an enemy truck bomb in Beirut, Lebanon, thirty-two years later.  USS New Jersey Chief Electronics Technician Michael Gorshinsky, on Saturday, October 22, 1983, left the ship in waters off Beirut to offer his technical expertise to the beseiged U.S. Marines holding their position against daily raids on shore.  The next day, Sunday, Gorshinsky and 240 Marines were blown away by a suicide truck bomber who had loaded his vehicle with explosives and rammed into their barracks.

The remainder of the New Jersey's Lebanon battle action cruise was dedicated to his memory.

With all the action she saw in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Lebanon, it's a tribute to her commanders, her officers, her crew, and perhaps even her destiny, that the USS New Jersey was able to escape even more harm.

The curious, young Pompton Lakes' student Thursday learned quickly about "The Big J's" reputation, when visiting Governor Christie Whitman  "substitute teaching" the class as part of her monthly, statewide volunteer outreach answered the student's question.

"She actually never sustained any major damage," the Governor responded.  "She was known as a very lucky ship.   And people liked to serve on her because she was known for that.  You know, they're pretty superstitious in the Navy, particularly, and she had a reputation for being a very safe ship, so people liked to serve on her," Governor Whitman explained.

Luck? Destiny? Coincidence?

Ten days ago, USS New Jersey was passing 82 Nautical Miles due West of the popular resort of Manzanillo, Mexico.  Her position was logged that night at 19 Degrees, 14 Minutes North Latitude; 105 Degrees, 47 Minutes West Longitude.

Yesterday, the National Weather Service in Miami, Florida alerted vessel traffic in the Eastern Pacific Ocean of its latest advisory:

"Tropical storm Irwin moving away from the Mexican coast.  At 2 p.m. PDT... 2100 Zulu ... The center of Tropical Storm Irwin was located near Latitude 19.1 North ... Longitude 107.2 West ... or about 170 Miles ... 275 Kilometers ...West Of Manzanillo Mexico.  Irwin is moving toward the West Northwest near 7 MPH ... 11 KPH ... and this motion is expected to continue today with a turn toward the West tonight.  Maximum sustained winds are now near 60 MPH ... 95 KPH ...with higher gusts.  Little change in strength is forecast during the next 24 hours.   Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 70 Miles ...110 Kilometers from the center.  Estimated minimum central pressure is 997 Millibars ... 29.44 Inches. This will be the last public advisory on Irwin"

Captain Kaare Ogaard was notified of Tropical Storm Irwin's forecasted potential last night, with the note that it was not expected to affect his present track to Panama.  The Captain had already been back there on September 30.  Ten days ago is not today.  And tomorrow is yet another weather day on USS New Jersey's transit to Panama, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic seaboard, and up to the Delaware Bay.

But carrying Governor Whitman's observation to the Lenox 4th grader about 'The Big J's" good fortune through the years doesn't hurt, does it?

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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Line Drawing of Big J

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