Journal Entry  -  November 9, 1999  -  Day 59

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

37 Degrees, 38 Minutes North


74 Degrees, 29 Minutes West

Days Run:

43.1 Nautical Miles


3.51 Knots (Average)

Total Run This Leg:  749.7 Nautical Miles
Total Average Speed:  5.86 Knots
Hours / Days This Leg:  128 Hours / 5.33 Days
Distance To Go This Leg:  76.3 Nautical Miles
Estimated Time Of Arrival:  3:00 p.m., tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday, November 10, at the Cape Henlopen Sea Buoy.
Present Course:  000 Degrees North
Winds:  Southwest at 25 Knots
Seas & Swells:  7 Feet Combined
Barometric Pressure: 1021 Millibars
Air Temperature:  63 Degrees
Sea Temperature:  62 Degrees, a significant drop from just South of this point.
Visibility:  10 Miles
Skies:  Clear
Sea Floor:  The ocean depth at this point is 38 Fathoms, or 228 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 tonight is just around the corner from her entry into the Delaware River.  She is 43 Miles East-Southeast of Assateague, Virginia, with the Maryland-Virginia stateline just North of the Assateague Light, and to the West of that, the Chincoteague Bay. Just North from there is Ocean City, Maryland, the Delaware-Maryland stateline, Rehoboth Bay, and finally Cape Henlopen, Delaware.

Immediate Status:  At this writing, 9:00 a.m., Wednesday morning, 12 hours after the Tuesday evening Position Report below, the USS New Jersey just entered the "Delaware To Cape Henlopen Traffic Lane," the designated corridor for all ship traffic into and out of the Delaware Bay.

The delay in issuing last evening's report has to do with the inevitable accumulation of unrelated matters the closer one gets to port.  It happened in Long Beach, Balboa, Miami, and now the Delaware.  But this is all to the good.

No Bond Equal To That Of The Battleship Sailors

The USS New Jersey Veterans Association, Inc. is an organization representing all the Battleship sailors who served on the "Big J."   Its current president, Richard Esser, from Lorain, Ohio, left his home there Monday morning and drove to New Jersey for his ship's homecoming.  We talked to him late last night about the meaning of all this.

The organization started with the World War II guys," Esser said.  "They fought the war, they went through hell, some of them spent three, three-and-a-half years on that ship, through the battle stars and the tough part of it.  Then they brought it back in Korea, which is when I got involved in it.  We got four of the battle stars, but even then it wasn't as dangerous.   We never had any aircraft attacks.  We had that thing in Wonsan where we got shelled, where Osterwind got killed, but other than that ....

"Then the other two wars, and you don't realize the closeness of bonding with men, their love for the ship, and the longer you're away, and you start going back every year, and start reminiscencing with your peers, and you talk to the guys from Vietnam, from Beirut, and we're getting more and more of the younger fellows in their 40s and 50s, more of them coming around now," Esser said.

"If you're a Battleship sailor, it's just a bonding that you have.  You have a different bonding with your family, your wife, than the fellows you live with.  You lived with them, slept with them, ate with them, fought with them, for years you're with them every day.  And they kept us so busy to keep our minds occupied.

"We hated a lot of the stuff we had to do, like I sat a four-hour-a-day watch, seven days a week, and when you weren't on watch, you were working, and they kept you occupied so you could never get involved in anything.   It's a bonding that you have with these fellows, and it's a different kind of bonding than you have with your wife or family, just by living with them," he said.

Esser said the accidental destiny of the New Jersey's arrival on Veterans Day Thursday is most appropriate.  He spoke of the very strong feelings of the sailors, especially the World War II plank owners, the original crewmen, but all New Jersey's crew, for the ship that's only a few miles away from home tonight.

"We've waited 20 years for this," Esser said, "and this homecoming is just the beginning.  "He said once the Navy decides where she will finally rest, and once everything's in place for the opening of New Jersey's memorial museum, wherever it is located, the future of the ship will be underway.

He related another episode in this ship's history, too, the farewell memorial event held in Bremerton on September 10 with some of her original crew there for a quiet service, a dedication, and a blessing for the ship's safe journey.

"The original 10 plank owners, the original crew, were there.  We had a ceremony, a wreath-laying ceremony, a chaplain presided over the event. They threw a wreath in the water for New Jersey's departed dead," he said.   "I couldn't get those sailors to take their seats.  You should have seen them.  Just to see the looks on their faces."

The bonding of the Battleship sailors.  Now the bonding of the people of New Jersey is playing out.  As she cruises up the Delaware, Esser said the river's shores will be lined with people waiting to see her pass.   It's a beautiful thing.  This homecoming.  These sailors.  This history.  And a beautiful day for it, too, they say.  Welcome home, New Jersey. And, thanks, Captain Ogaard, and crew of the Sea Victory, for the safe journey.  A beautiful thing, indeed.

Submitted by Bob Wernet onboard the Sea Victory.


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