Journal Entry  -  November 8, 1999  -  Day 58

Monday Evening Position Report
8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time

35 Degrees, 55 Minutes North


74 Degrees, 29 Minutes West

Days Run:

87.5 Nautical Miles


7.29 Knots (Average)  with help from the Gulf Stream

Total Run This Leg:  646.8 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  6.22 Knots
Hours / Days This Leg: 104 Hours / 4.33 Days, from the Freeport, Grand Bahamas Island transfer point, at Noon, Thursday, November 4.
Distance To Go This Leg:  179.2 Nautical Miles to the Cape Henlopen Sea Buoy.
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  3:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 10, at the Cape Henlopen Sea Buoy.
Present Course:  000 Degrees North
Winds:  North-Northwest at 5 Knots, down from 25 Knots just two Hours earlier.
Seas:  Rippled Surface
Swells:  8 Feet from the North-Northeast
Barometric Pressure:  1007 Millibars
Air Temperature:  56 Degrees
Sea Temperature:  77 Degrees
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Clear
Sea Floor:  The ocean depth at this point is 1,120 Fathoms, or 6,720 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:  The USS New Jersey is presently 51 Miles East of Pamlico Sound and Albemarle Sound, North Carolina.  She has passed through the conflicting seas of Cape Hatteras at this point, and the transit has become far more comfortable for the tug and the crew.  The Battleship never has a problem with the seas.

Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey, Jr., Elizabeth, New Jersey
"... The Right Man, For The Right Times, At The Right Place ..."

One hundred years ago, in 1899, Bill Halsey, Jr. entered the University of Virginia's School of Medicine at the age of 17.  He left Virginia to later graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1904.  On August 16, 1959, 5 Star Admiral William Frederick "Bull" Halsey, Jr., died at the age of 76.

In between lies the story of a remarkable, fearless, and victorious warrior, the ultimate New Jersey veteran, who lived to tell his story.

Admiral "Bull" Halsey, nicknamed by the press, was a Third Fleet Commander on USS New Jersey who drove his ships into a devastating and fatal western Pacific typhoon, losing three destroyers and all crewmen aboard; he was a Carrier Commander called upon in 1942 to rally the American forces at Guadalcanal, and did; he was the Flagship Commander on whose battleship, USS Missouri, the enemy formally surrendered in September, 1945, in Tokyo Bay; and he was one of only four living Naval officers of World War II to be awarded the Congressionally directed 5 star rank of Fleet Admiral.

"Well, he's very controversial," said former New Jersey Commanding Officer during Vietnam, Rear Admiral J. Edward Snyder, Jr. (Ret.).   "But you have to grant that he was the right man for the right times at the right place, and the fact that he used the New Jersey as his flagship made the people on the New Jersey feel very close to him even though they didn't know him."

General Douglas MacArthur called Halsey "the greatest fighting admiral" of World War II.  In 1942, Halsey took command of U.S. Naval forces in the South Pacific, and in a series of bloody battles, his forces defeated the Japanese in the Solomon Islands.  This victory enabled the American land forces to occupy the entire island chain.  During this period, he also supported the opening offenses of General MacArthur in the Southwest Pacific.

On June 15, 1944, Halsey took command of the Navy's Third Fleet.  In October, 1944, in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, considered "the greatest battle in naval history" by Annapolis historian and former Jerseyman, Paul Stillwell, Halsey's fleet and Admiral Thomas Kincaid's Seventh Fleet smashed the Japanese Navy and virtually eliminated it from the war.

"In my opinion," said Admiral Snyder, "part of the New Jersey was Admiral Halsey.  In fact, the major role that New Jersey played during many months of the war was in fact as the flagship for the Admiral," he said.

Stillwell, author of "Battleship New Jersey: An Illustrated History," (published by the Naval Institute Press, 1986, Annapolis, Maryland), places Halsey in the top tier of historically important naval figures.

"I think his place in history is pretty high," he said. "He is indeed viewed as an icon and serves as a symbol of the fighting spirit of the Navy. with messages like he said at Guadalcanal: "Attack ... Repeat ... Attack ...," and the situation in Guadalcanal in the fall of 1942, when Admiral Gormley was the Commander there.  Things turned around when Admiral Halsey showed up, because he had the fighting spirit, and defeatism turned into aggressiveness and eventually victory," Stillwell said.

"There are critics because he was not a detail man, and he was a human being, and sometimes he made decisions that in retrospect turned out to be unfortunate.  He personified aggressiveness.  He had a concern for the welfare of the enlisted people, and they felt that they were on the winning team when they were with him," Stillwell said.

"He was aggressive; he was inspirational; he relished an opportunity to fight with the enemy.  There were some in World War II who did not do that.  He tended to be impulsive rather than cautious.  Sometimes caution was called for, sometimes his impulsive aggressiveness was just what was needed.   Particularly with the typhoon experiences, if he had not had the record of success prior to that, he might have been relieved for cause, but his overall record was viewed on balance and it was positive, so he stayed," Stillwell offered.

Admiral Snyder, who commanded the USS New Jersey from April, 1968 to August, 1969 in perhaps Vietnam's hottest period, spoke of discussions with Halsey's former top aide.  "Admiral Carney, who was his chief of staff, explained to me how the staff operated on the New Jersey, and at that particular time there wasn't anybody on the New Jersey that was at all concerned about how controversial he was.  They just looked at him as a hero.

"In fact, I remember finding a five-star flag aboard the ship, there was a 5-star flag in the signal locker that still was there that had a tag on it: 'Here's hoping the old guy makes it,' signed by some Signalman Second Class, which showed great affection for him.  He was very popular on the ship, and as a result the ship felt they were doing a tremendous service in being the flagship," Snyder said.

On matters that perhaps only USS New Jersey commanding officers fully appreciate, Snyder tells of speaking with Carney about Halsey's preference for the Battleship.

"Admiral Carney told me that the reason Halsey was so pleased with the New Jersey was that he didn't have to turn into the wind to launch aircraft and recover aircraft like he'd been doing in the past on carriers. Here he had a ship that just passes the aircraft carriers and was able to maintain course and speed and head for the objective without worrying about the ability to launch and recover aircraft.

"Plus," he said, "the New Jersey had an entire suite of offices because she was large and modernized in those days - I'm speaking of World War II - so large that Halsey's entire flag staff had a complete intelligence operation and all the things that they needed to carry out the functions of a flagship, which had not been the case, at least that's what Admiral Carney told me."

On April 12, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia,opening up the conduct of the remainder of World War II to Harry S Truman of Missouri.

Earlier, in January, 1945, Admiral Halsey left the USS New Jersey with his Third Fleet flag and staff.  By May of that year, though, Halsey was back as Third Fleet Commander, but this time on the USS Missouri. Halsey preferred the New Jersey as before, but she was undergoing an overhaul on the West coast.

After he resumed Third Fleet operations, one of Halsey's first strikes was the bombardment of Naha, Okinawa.  According to Stillwell's second Battleship book on the USS Missouri, Fleet Admiral Halsey said of the Naha strikes: "I gave orders for her to drop some 16-inch calling cards on the enemy's doorstep.   I wanted him to know I was back."

On August 6, 1945, President Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan was executed, and a second one came on August 9. Japan surrendered officially on August 15.

Admiral Halsey was having breakfast in the Mighty Mo's flag mess when he received the surrender message, a transcript of President Truman's official announcement.  Halsey was described as "exultant," and ordered the Battleship's steam whistle to blow for one minute, steady, in celebration.  But the whistle was so long unused, it stuck, and blew for two.

It had been 3 years, 8 months, and 7 days since Pearl Harbor, when then Rear Admiral Halsey and his Carrier Division Two were all South of Hawaii, strategically and fortunately absent from Pearl Harbor at 8:00 a.m., Sunday, December 7, 1941.

On September 2, 1945, Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey, Jr.'s Flagship, the Missouri, hosted Supreme Allied Commander and General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur, and the official Japanese delegation, as the Japanese signed the formal instruments of surrender, ending World War II.

After the moving, historic, unprecedented, and largely silent proceedings, General MacArthur put his arm around Bill Halsey and said: "Start 'em now."

Then, the local Elizabeth, New Jersey boy, soon to be awarded only the nation's fourth Fleet Admiral 5 star Flag, gave the order to 450 carrier planes and "a horde" of B-29 bombers to fly over the victorious allied naval assets and Japanese vessels thickly amassed in Tokyo Bay.

The sheer numbers of aircraft that flew in low, slow formation over Halsey's Flagship, USS Missouri, "blackened the sky, making conversation of any kind impossible."

With that accomplished, MacArthur said these words: "Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always."  Then, turning to the Japanese, he said, "These proceedings are now closed."

Admiral Halsey's flagship soon returned to Pearl Harbor.   The former University of Virginia medical student transferred to the USS South Dakota, and headed for San Francisco for a post-war, Navy Day celebration.

It's curious: do you imagine anyone ever asked what kind of a medical doctor Bill Halsey would have made?

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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