Journal Entry  -  October 31, 1999  -  Day 50

Sunday Morning Position Report
9:00 a.m., Central Daylight Time

21 Degrees, 35 Minutes North


84 Degrees, 03 Minutes West

Days Run:

Jogging Easterly toward Isla de la Juventud to execute transfer.


Calculated at the point of detention and fixed at 4.09 Knots.  Detention Time - 37 Hours to the transfer point, completed at 9:00 a.m.

Total Run This Leg:  The Sea Victory's logged mileage at the point of detention was 819.6 Nautical Miles from Cristobal, Panama waypoint.
Distance To Go This Leg:  From the point of detention, 1,276.9 Nautical Miles.
Hours / Days This Leg:  237.3 Hours / 9.88 Days
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  A new, and still tentative, ETA for the Cape Henlopen Sea Buoy depends upon the progress of events in the next few days.
Prior Course:  Various, on an Easterly track to Isla de la Juventud, Cuba, to reach the transfer point.
Winds:  Southeast at 15 Knots
Seas:  3 Feet
Swells:  8 Feet from the Southeast
Barometric Pressure:  1016 Millibars
Air Temperature:  83 Degrees
Sea Temperature:  81 Degrees
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Broken Overcast
Sea Floor:  Ocean depths beneath the USS New Jersey at this point are 3,210 Meters, or 10,530 Feet.

Transfer To The Mariner:  8:50 a.m., Sunday, October 31, beyond the 12 mile territorial waters of Cuba, South of Cabo Frances, at 21 Degrees, 35 Minutes North / 84 Degrees, 03 Minutes West.

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:  The USS New Jersey this morning parked in fairly calm seas 19.5 Miles South of La Furnia and Cabo Frances, Cuba, as the tug Sea Victory handed her off to her sister tug Mariner, from Lake Charles, Louisiana, in a Caribbean high seas transfer maneuver that these professional seaman and tug masters make look easy.

Sea Victory and the New Jersey began their cessation of forward progress, or Detention, at 8:00 p.m., Friday, October 29, at 21 Degrees, 35 Minutes North / 85 Degrees, 07 Minutes West, 18.5 Miles off-shore of Cabo San Antonio, Cuba, in the Yucatan Channel.  At this point, they began jogging, or slowly transiting, to maintain the best possible towing conditions for the USS New Jersey, while awaiting arrival of the tug Mariner.

USS New Jersey Hand-Off Successful, Sea Victory To Miami

By 8:50 a.m. this morning, after two-and-a-half hours of careful and deliberate preparation, vessel positioning, and tow wire placement, the USS New Jersey was skillfully transferred to a second tug by a group of professional tugboaters who do this kind of thing almost by second nature.

The tug Mariner had been transiting behind the Sea Victory and New Jersey since 3:00 a.m. this morning, having been dispatched from Lake Charles, Louisiana last Thursday afternoon.  She was prepared to move into the transfer position after sunrise.

The Sea Victory and USS New Jersey spent the night jogging as far East as possible, along Cuba's Southern, lee-sheltering coast, where the seas became more manageable by each Nautical Mile.  Captain Kaare Ogaard's decision 37 Hours earlier to leave the Yucatan Channel behind them proved highly beneficial.

The seas and winds cooperated this morning as the time approached for the delicate maneuver of shifting the tons of the Battleship's tow connections from one tug to the other, in 10,530 Feet of Caribbean Sea, and 8 Feet of swell rolling in during the process.  It wasn't all smooth sailing, but for the most part, everyone was completely satisfied with the execution of the transfer.

Before the actual handing over of the New Jersey's tow chain, Captain Ogaard spent the morning since sunrise working the ship into a favorable weather and sea position, and hauling in much of the Sea Victory's tow wire, leaving only enough for the tug Mariner to capture the chain connections from its end, and hook them to her own tug's wire.

As Ogaard's positioning process was underway, the Mariner pulled alongside the Sea Victory to allow Wayne Billiot, an EMD engine technician specialist, to board the tug for the run to Miami for repairs to the port main engine.   He will spend his time in the engine room with Chief Engineer Andy Cleland assessing the cause of the engine's malfunction last week.  Together, they will present their analyses to engineers in Miami where the Sea Victory is expected to arrive Tuesday morning

As the Sea Victory brought the New Jersey closer and closer this morning, the Mariner's Captain Ray Wilson began to slowly back into Sea Victory's position, stern to stern, without collision or damage.  Each tug's crew also worked their part of this high-seas balancing effort at wire transfer without injury or mishap.  These unfortunate calamities can turn an otherwise routine effort into tragedy.  Nothing even close to that happened.

The Mariner pitched and rolled slightly in the juvenile sea as she backed expertly alongside the Sea Victory.  For his part, Ogaard was managing not only the Sea Victory's proximity to the Mariner, but the New Jersey's behavior, and readying her mass of towline tonnage for transfer to the Mariner.

This business is stunning.  These men handle 45,000 ton Battleships and 150 foot tug boats with 7,200 horsepower acceleration at their fingertips as though they were garden tools, or lawnmowers, simple utensils to make a job easier.  But the mental factors they call upon produce the real unspoken dazzle - the timing, the judgment, the anticipation of the sea's behavior, the absolute knowledge they have of their vessel's personality in a maneuver like this one.

And the crews handling the lines and chain, on a work deck sloshing with sea water rushing from side to side with each roll of the vessel, calls to mind the hardest, strongest and most fearless of workers in places most of us never see, much less experience.

The union of man, sea, weather, horsepower and heavy equipment, when melded as one, is a beautiful thing.  One element awry, and the imagination turns ugly.  Perhaps it's the precarious edge of it all that attracts them to this work, that and the sea, of course.  Or, perhaps it's just a job they do, as others work with numbers or words or items at a desk, with no more threat to limb and future than from hot coffee or old age.

Here, this morning, the USS New Jersey was in the hands of men whose careers have been spent doing these things, and doing them well.  It's only expected that when the Mariner backed her stern against Sea Victory's, her crew would toss a line over to Sea Victory's crew, who would connect it to New Jersey's tow wire, and the Mariner men would just pull it on over, hitch it up, and that would be the end of it all.  Off everyone would go.  Just another day at the office.

Well, that's about the way it happened.

Maybe a little tossing by a happy sea prevented an immaculate transfer, maybe one of the couplings took a few extra whacks to unleash, maybe that huge chain spent a couple extra seconds bound up in the pins instead of slipping easily and instantly through, and maybe the absence of Sea Victory's port main engine required a hair's more patience than normal for positioning, but to this observer, and from all accounts afterwards, the transfer went without a hitch.

As the Mariner received New Jersey's wire, assumed her tow and carriage, the Sea Victory began almost imperceptibly, surely reluctantly, to admit distance between them.  After seven weeks, some 1,175 Hours, through beautiful seas and rough, she had to let go now.

But not for long.  Soon she'll be in Miami, expected there early Tuesday morning, and under the care of those whose business is engines, fixing them, and making them perform.  Then she will return to the sea, and find the Mariner and the USS New Jersey, and take back the tow.

The Mariner will continue on now, from just South of Cuba, with the USS New Jersey, and proceed along Sea Victory's general track to the Yucatan Channel and the Gulf of Mexico.  When the Miami repairs are completed, Sea Victory is expected to rendezvous with the Mariner, and resume the homecoming voyage with her to New Jersey.

The Battleship is safe and secure this morning, and back on track, and once again headed home.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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