Journal Entry  -  October 13, 1999  -  Day 32

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

7 Degrees, 21 Minutes North


82 Degrees, 40 Minutes, West

Days Run:

68.5 Nautical Miles


5.71 Knots (Average)

Total Run This Leg:  2,670.5 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.18 Knots
Hours / Days This Leg:  515.5 Hours, 21.48 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  277.6 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  9:00 a.m., Friday, October 15, Balboa Anchorage
Present Course:  117 Degrees Southeasterly
Winds:  West-Southwest at 15 Knots
Seas:  3 Feet
Swells:  8 Feet from the Southwest
Barometric Pressure:  1011 Millibars
Air Temperature:  74 Degrees
Sea Temperature:  79 Degrees
Visibility:  5 Miles
Skies:  Showers
Sea Floor:   Ocean depths beneath the USS New Jersey at this point are 2,952 Fathoms or 17,712 Feet.

Position:   USS New Jersey has arrived in the waters of Panama!  She is now due South of Bahia de Charco Azul in the Golfo de Chiriqui, and the terminal of Puerto Armuelles, a major oil discharge port for various kinds of oil products.  The presence of this major oil terminal eliminates the need for large tankers, from Valdez, Alaska, as one example, to transit the Panama Canal with their cargo of "black gold."   Charco Azul is an oil storage and transshipment terminal for tankers of up to 265,000 tons.

It is a transfer point for Alaskan oil from VLCC's (Very Large Crude Carriers) to either transcontinental pipeline or smaller vessels for canal transit.  The pipeline connects Charco Azul to Chiriqui Grande Terminal on the Atlantic coast.  The terminal consists of three berths, pilotage is compulsory, and services are provided 24 hours a day.

Isla Mantuosa, Heavily Wooded, 508 Feet High, Foul Ground

USS New Jersey has now traveled through two time zones since her September 21st departure from Long Beach, California, 2,670.5 Nautical Miles over 21.48 Days, or 515.5 Hours.  She has seen Summer turn to Autumn, a cool California become a warm Central America, and still no one aboard the Sea Victory has stepped on terra firma for 30 days.

New Jersey has now logged 3,864 Nautical Miles from Bremerton, Washington to this morning's position, where the first land was spotted directly to the North, Isla Mantuosa, Panama, guardian to the entrance of Bahia de Charco Azul, a major oil transshipment port from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans.

Landfall!  A small island, to be sure, but still coastal land, visible, with all the imagination brings with that image to sailors.   Even though for these towboaters, 30 days in the warmth of the Pacific off Central America is a piece of cake compared to those same 30 days, say, fighting against an Alaskan storm during the crest of winter.  Life has its blessings, indeed.

Her homecoming voyage, her last in the Pacific. A memorable one, to be sure.

Two Miles South of the Long Beach breakwater, 47 Miles West-Southwest of Point Loma, San Diego, 42 Miles Southwest of Ensenada, Mexico, 41 Miles Southwest of Isla San Jeronimo, Mexico, 54 Miles Southwest of Bahia de Ballenas, Baja California, 60 Miles from Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja, 98 Miles off-shore of Cabo Corrientos, then Manzanillo where the storm waited for New Jersey's passage before entering stage right, and Buffadero Bluff, Zihuatanejo, the lagoon of the parrots, Laguno de Papagayo, Acapulco, Rio Verde, Golfo de Tehuantepec and the Tehuantepeckers, Mar Muerto, San Jose, Guatemala, the tri-national border shores of Golfo de Fonseca for El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, then Cape Filibusteros, Costa Rica, a parliamentary etymology one thirsts to discover, Cerros de Havana, Punta Guiones, the Guardian Bank, shallow pinnacles with their longlines, and now Panama, now Isla Mantuosa, and Friday, anchorage in Balboa.

How, though, can that compare to USS New Jersey's earlier passages?

Her entire 1968 mileage total was 38,034. And what of her destinations and crossing points?  Philadelphia, Norfolk, Panama, Pearl Harbor, Funafuti, Ellice Islands, the Marshalls, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, the Majuro Lagoon, zigzagging through South Pacific nights in a black-out condition, avoiding enemy subs and harm's way, New Guinea, Aitape, Tanahmerah and Humboldt Bays, the Philippine Sea, Turkey Shoots, Saipan, Okinawa ... then Wonsan, Changjon, Songjin, Chongjin, Yokosuka, Kosong, and Subic Bay, Da Nang, cross-Pacific treks, Pearl Harbor to Subic Bay 4,879 Miles, Subic to Da Nang 748, or coastal operations off Vietnam, September 30 - November 9, 1968, a mere 6,785 Miles, or November 22 - December 8, 1968, another 3,793 miles - and what were the sailors thinking then? - or, December 22 - 31, 1968, Christmas time, coastal operations in I and II Corps, 1,224 Miles, and to Beirut from Cristobal, Panama, 12 Days at 25 Knots, 1983.

What of those passages?  Where was landfall then?   What would welcome the Jerseymen when they hit those beaches?  What were their thoughts through those long, watery miles? And when would they come then?

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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