Journal Entry  -  October 18, 1999  -  Day 37

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

8 Degrees, 56 Minutes North


79 Degrees, 34 Minutes West

Days Run:

At Anchor at Balboa Port Terminal, Panama


At Anchor at Balboa Port Terminal, Panama

Distance Of Second Leg:   September 21 - October 15 / Long Beach, CA to Balboa Anchorage, Panama: 2,948.7 Nautical Miles, the longest leg of New Jersey's homecoming voyage.
Total Average Speed Second Leg:  5.18 Knots

Distance Of First Leg:  September 12 - 21 / Bremerton, WA to Long Beach, CA: 1,193.6 Nautical Miles from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to Long Beach, CA anchorage.
Total Average Speed First Leg:  5.54 Knots

Position:  The USS New Jersey remains docked at the Balboa Port Terminal, piers 14 - 15 alone this morning, with her escort tug, Sea Victory, having departed Pier 14 yesterday evening.

Sea Victory departed her berthing next to the Battleship at 6:30 p.m. Sunday to transit the first two Panama Canal locks, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel, ahead of the New Jersey.  The tug will wait at Gamboa before once again re-uniting with the Battleship after she has passed through Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks.

The Panama Canal Commission tugs will assist New Jersey through the two sets of locks and deliver her to the Sea Victory on the North end of Pedro Miguel on Tuesday, tomorrow morning.

The two vessels will then proceed together through Galliard Cut to Gatun Lake where they will remain for the remainder of the day before setting off for the third and final locks at Gatun on Wednesday, and then on to Cristobal for the night before departing for the Atlantic and home.

A Day Of Tribute: The Battleship, The Canal, The Veterans

Sunday afternoon, under a brilliant Panama sun, and with more than 200 veterans, supporters and news media representatives from New Jersey and Panama City, Governor Christie Whitman expressed the feelings of all when she paid tribute to the USS New Jersey for a distinguished career, and wished her well on the final leg of her journey homeward.

The Governor was joined in the New Jersey salute by other selected officials from her state, the U.S. Navy, the Secretary of the Army, the Panama Canal Commission Chairman, the U.S. Ambassador's office in Panama, and Panama's Foreign Minister in a combined salute to the Battleship and a thanks to all who helped in bringing her home.

The officials each spoke of the values represented by the Battleship's history, and what she offers New Jersey and future generations once she becomes a memorial museum.  This was followed by a formal news conference beside the bow of the 887-foot vessel in which questions about the future of the Canal and the ship's future were asked.

Following that, Governor Whitman and the principals paid a visit to the tugboat that is towing her home.  Stepping down a steeply inclined ladder from dockside to the deck of the Sea Victory, the Governor and the others spent 30 minutes aboard the tug examining the vessel which is drawing so much curiosity as New Jersey heads home.

They were joined on the tug by her Captain and crew, as well as the President of Crowley Maritime Corporation, Thomas Crowley. They posed for pictures on the tug's forward deck with the tremendous BB-62 bow and stem directly behind them, a perfect location for everyone with a camera.  From there they took a look at the tug's working winches and tow gear on the vessel's stern, then proceeded to climb back up the ladder to land again.

Last night, at U.S. Ambassador Louis Ferro's residence in Panama City, more than 250 people joined together to celebrate the Battleship's passage for the final time through the Canal beginning later this morning.

On everyone's discussion list was the excitement anticipated in actually boarding the USS New Jersey later this morning as she is taken through the Miraflores Locks for all to witness themselves.

It will be a memorable and cherished event, and a story that will be talked about probably for generations to come.  The final passage of an historic American Battleship, through a wondrous Canal built nearly 100 years ago, at a time when the people of Panama are preparing to assume complete and independent control of its operations in less than 3 months time.

The day was filled with reflections of history, and in everyone's mind was the fact that they are here as history is still being made. And they are a part of it all.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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