USS Hawaii is now in the Pacific!
We spent today transiting the Panama Canal. For those of you who have never been through the canal I will explain the journey.
The trip takes about nine hours including three sets of locks and a six hour drive through a large lake that has about different 12 turns. The locks are challenging for any ship and especially for submarines. We don't have bow thrusters on submarines so fitting a 7600 ton submarine into a 110 foot wide canal is to say the least interesting. My line handlers topside have to haul in these very heavy cables to secure the boat to the lock and do so as the ship is drifting within feet of the canal walls. If they don't get the lines over quickly the ship could stand into trouble. Luckily on USS HAWAII I have a very talented and strong group of line handlers topside and they got the lines over efficiently and with plenty of time to spare.
During the trip we passed numerous large merchants at close range, a school full of little girls played their musical instruments and waved as we drove by, and we received a big cheer from the visitors at the Miraflores Visitor Station at one of the locks. It always makes me feel proud to serve my country on days like today. Although most of us made sure to put on lots of suncreen this morning, it turns out it is "rainy season" in Panama. So instead of basking in the sun, we were cooled by the rain for a reasonable portion of the trip. Although USS HAWAII is a new submarine this was our third trip through the Panama Canal. We also had the pleasure of awarding three sailors their "Dolphins" or submarine warfare pin today during the transit. Earning your Dolphins on a submarine is the biggest moment of any young submarine sailor's career and getting them in the Panama Canal makes the day even more special.
The cribbage tournament is also underway. I won my first match and I am on my way to what I hope will be the championship. The crew always hopes they get the luck of the draw and play against me. First, they all think they can beat me and second they enjoy the braggin rights.
The excitement continues to build with the crew, especially now that we are sailing the waters of the Pacific Ocean. We are counting down the days until our arrival.
CDR Ed Herrington