Journal Entry  -  October 19, 1999  -  Day 38

Tuesday Evening Position Report
11:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time

8 Degrees, 56 Minutes North


79 Degrees, 34 Minutes West

Days Run:

Transiting the Pedro Miguel Locks of the Panama Canal


Transiting the Pedro Miguel Locks of the Panama Canal

Panama Canal Transit:  October 16 - 19 / Balboa Pier 14 - 15, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks, the Gaillard Cut, Gamboa and Lake Gatun. Transit through the three Gatun Locks will occur tomorrow, Wednesday (Oct. 20), followed by a night's layover in Cristobal, before departing for the Atlantic on Thursday, October 21.

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 tonight is moored in Gatun Lake, on the northern, Atlantic end of the Panama Canal, only a short distance from the three Gatun Locks she will transit tomorrow morning.

Her slow, easy journey through the longest portion of the Panama Canal today took her from just beyond the two Miraflores Locks, in Miraflores Lake, through the single Pedro Miguel Lock, into the Canal's Gaillard Cut, through Gamboa, and finally into the 163 Square Mile Gatun Lake.

The day after she was visited by Governor Christie Whitman and more than 100 other Jerseyans to make the transit from Balboa through the first step of the Miraflores Locks, she was boarded only by 40 Panama Canal Commission line-handlers, and those directly responsible for her tow home, in addition to this observer.

Pedro Miguel, Gaillard Cut, Gamboa ... Then To Gatun Lake

The USS New Jersey spent all day Tuesday transiting from her mooring location just beyond the Miraflores Locks to reach the 27 mile distant Gatun Lake, where she will remain overnight until Wednesday morning, when she will pass through the three Gatun Locks and await final departure from the Panama Canal on Thursday morning bound for the Delaware River and home.

Her passage today was spectacular.

The elements of the Panama Canal defy easy description.   There is dense jungle, peaceful man-made lakes, huge ships passing southbound as the "Big J" draws everyone's attention, small children shoreside waving, dredging operations underway to widen the capacity of the Canal, explosives projects still blowing away at nature's earthen shell, and a tranquility unimagined.

The absolutely staggering fact of the Canal's very existence under the conditions which rendered it successful 85 years ago sends the passenger through it on a journey of engineering mystification.

That so many tens of thousands of workers died trying to excavate this Canal, and failed, brings one to silence.  That President Theodore Roosevelt commanded, in effect, in 1904 that it would be accomplished, brings history to the present.  It was done, it remains critical to international commerce and union, and the Panamanians believe it is now their responsibility to succeed with.

USS New Jersey's passage today entailed 40 Panama Canal Commission linemen, handlers, to work the Pedro Miguel Lock and assist in securing her to the Sea Victory which met up with the Battleship at Pedro Miguel at 11:15 a.m.

By 5:30 p.m., she was moored in Gatun Lake for the night.  Tomorrow morning, she will resume passage through Gatun Locks, once again reaching sea level after passing through an elevation once measured at 312 feet over Panama's Continental Divide.

The Canal's legendary and dramatic history has served to deliver the Battleship's own history now nearly to the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic, where Thursday she will resume her blue-water homecoming voyage.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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