Journal Entry  -  October 21, 1999  -  Day 40

Thursday Evening Position Report
8:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time

10 Degrees, 08 Minutes North


80 Degrees, 00 Minutes West

Days Run:

44.9 Nautical Miles (Begins at the 24-hour mark from 11:42 a.m. Thursday morning.)


5.41 Knots (Average)  Running to meet a fixed ETA

Hours / Days This Leg:  8.3 Hours
Distance To Go This Leg:  2,051.6 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  3:00 p.m., Saturday, November 6, Cape Henlopen Sea Buoy, at the mouth of the Delaware River.
Present Course:  353 Degrees Northerly
Winds:  Westerly off Sea Victory's Port Beam at 10 Knots
Seas:  1 Foot
Swells:  Slight out of the Northeast
Barometric Pressure:  1009 Millibars
Air Temperature:  81 Degrees
Sea Temperature:  82 Degrees
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Cloudy, High and Thin
Sea Floor:  Ocean depths beneath the USS New Jersey at this point are 2,000 Meters, or 6,561 Feet

Panama Canal Transit:  October 16 - 21 / Balboa Pier 14 - 15, Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks, the Gaillard Cut, Gamboa, Lake Gatun, and the Gatun Locks, and Cristobal.  USS New Jersey's clearance into the Caribbean Sea / Atlantic Ocean was completed at 11:34 a.m., and her mark for the commencement of the Cristobal, Panama - Philadelphia, PA Third Leg was passed at 11:42 a.m., 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:  USS New Jersey is currently 40 Nautical Miles North of the closest point of land at Punta Manzanilla, Panama.  This location is the Northern extremity of Panama's coast.  It is described in the Caribbean edition of "Sailing Directions" as a high precipitous projection with two conical hillocks resembling a saddle.  It is the termination of a mountain ridge extending along the coast to the mouth of the Rio Piedras.

The USS New Jersey's Northerly trackline of 353 Degrees is a popular one.  Since departing Cristobal shortly before noon today, a number of large freighters have cruised right by the New Jersey, one at an estimated 25 knots this evening.  That happens to be the average speed New Jersey made in September,1983, on her high-speed run from Panama to the Mediterranean Sea to engage in the Lebanon action.   Since nightfall, the running lights on these carriers have been clearly visible behind the Battleship.  Their vastly superior speed soon brings them abeam of her for a few minutes, then just as quickly, off into the distance ahead of her and over the horizon Northbound.

Corrections:  In this morning's report, reference was made to the total scheduled transit distance from the Captain's Cristobal, Panama waypoint to the Cape Henlopen waypoint at the mouth of the Delaware River.   The distance should have read 2,096.5 Nautical Miles.

Let's Examine Some Realties ...

Through the course of this spectacular journey, it has come to our attention that some website visitors wonder why the Morning and Evening Position Reports sometimes seem "late" in arriving on the website.  Or why one morning report, for example, might appear sooner one day than another report appears on another day.

Good, sensible questions.  Another observation reached us regarding the reports, or the lack of them, between Saturday, October 16, arrival day in Balboa, Panama, and Thursday, October 21, departure day in Cristobal.

Here's how it works.  First of all, and perhaps most importantly, Crowley Marine Services and the Sea Victory's Captain Kaare Ogaard, have graciously extended to us "guest status" aboard the tug to compile these reports and make observations.  We are forever grateful, of course.

The permission granted to this reporter for these purposes is reciprocal. That is, in return for allowing me into their sea-going home, I assume the responsibility of adhering to certain spoken and unspoken forms of procedure, or protocol, as information is gathered for the reports, and as daily life aboard the vessel continues.  It would be the case for any stranger entering another family's home.

One of the big differences, though, between a normal family environment at home, and towing the USS New Jersey around North and through Central America, are the stakes involved.

This is not Saturday night at the Joneses, or Monday Night Football at Pete's.  It's roughly a two-million dollar expenditure for the State of New Jersey, an entrusted memorial Battleship belonging to the United States Navy, being delivered more than 6,000 Miles, through one foreign country, and within the territorial waters of others, by a professional Captain and crew who are at work here.

Theirs is a serious, time-consuming, precise, constant and demanding job which began well before New Jersey's Bremerton departure, and fills each day and night on the Sea Victory with professional obligations that never cease until the ship is delivered to the Navy in Philadelphia next month.

The tug's engines are constantly monitored.  Course and towing attitudes are ritualistically read, judged and revised as required.   Messages are handled, weather reports are analyzed, sailing performance is dispatched to Crowley headquarters, shipping traffic is assessed for maximum precaution, radios are a constant source of information in the wheelhouse - some relevant, some irrelevant, but all of it audible and subject to instant interpretation.  And the list goes on.

That's the environment within which these reports are prepared.  It's a very predictable, even comfortable, setting to gather information, process and disseminate it.

The LandSea Systems' satellite telephone equipment, as stated before, has worked flawlessly for 4,000 Miles now.  COMSAT's Inmarsat satellite connection, and it's air-time support for these dispatches, has been equally valuable.  The charges for uploading time to the satellite for these email reports, at a very slow speed compared to land-line times, is significant.

It requires about 5-minutes just to send one photograph, for example, all of that time at a rate of perhaps $2.00 to $3.00 or more per minute. We've been at sea for nearly six weeks.

And once the weather begins to impact a routine, or a port call is approaching, or an unscheduled piece of behavior occurs with the tug, or based on information received or learned, everything changes.

Normally, the Captain prepares position reports beginning at 8:00 a.m. and again at 8:00 p.m.  He makes those available as soon as he completes them.  I take the information, try to appreciate and understand its import for the time, question the Captain about details that are constantly changing, and safeguard at each stroke of the pen against error.

What I attempt to do at every turn on this tug is to avoid even the semblance of interference with the Captain's or the crews' duties and responsibilities.  My role is completely secondary, even irrelevant, to their job of delivering the USS New Jersey home safely with as little complication as possible.   The last thing any of them needs is some guy needling them for information, or making himself a nuisance, or asking for things now when a better time would be later.

It's all a matter of understanding each other's roles, and that probably has been reached, according to most available signals.  So, eight o'clock Sea Victory position reports do not automatically translate into ten o'clock, or even noon website reports.  Additional material is gathered beyond position data which is then assimilated, processed, written and disseminated.

If all goes well, an eight o'clock report will be delivered to New Jersey via email within three to six hours, depending upon the length or detail within a story written for that report.  Some take longer than others, but generally that has been the rule, I believe.  Morning reports may take longer than evening reports because there's more opportunity for daytime information gathering for that story or another.  By midnight, it's about time to quit for the day, but this is being written at 1:32 a.m., for example.  Bottom line?  The information does end up on the website. This is not "live" television.  Things at sea with large Battleships sometimes take time.

Things on land do not necessarily adhere to an 8 and 8 schedule, such as in Balboa.

One thing should be very clear, however - the Captain and crew have bent over backwards to accommodate my requirements, always, from the beginning of this journey forward.  And the same goes for last year's USS Missouri tow.

Any perception otherwise is false.  Likewise for the state of New Jersey's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the host of our website, and the source of all professional design and implementation.

Lastly, about the "missing" or "untimely" reports from Panama.  Those were all based on land, not sea.   They all involved people, not data. They required physical movement away from the Sea Victory.  They each dealt with events, not sailing aspects.  The facts gathered in Balboa concerned everything but the Sea Victory and New Jersey's voyage detail.

On Saturday, the night of the ship's arrival, the Governor hosted an official reception at a Panama City Hotel.  On Sunday, a dockside, afternoon news conference and presentation event occurred.  That evening, the American Ambassador hosted an official NEW JERSEY reception.  On Monday, the Governor and her guests boarded the Battleship for transit from Balboa to the Miraflores Locks.   On Tuesday, after a 5:30 a.m. call, we boarded the ship for her day-long transit from Miraflores Lake to Gatun Lake.

All were conditions opposite of those while underway with the Battleship.

Oh, yes, and one more thing.  Since the Sea Victory departed Balboa for Gamboa ahead of the USS New Jersey, we remained in Panama City for the duration.  A most valuable reporting location, which ideally will display itself in the coming 16 days, and has already accounted for all the photos and first-person reports of the New Jersey transiting the Canal.

There was only one thing wrong.  Our hotel telephone system, required to send e-mail reports to the New Jersey website, would not dial phone numbers in the United States of America.  It's a small thing, perhaps, but a message without a messenger takes a little longer to deliver.

Anyway, it's very nice to be underway again.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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