November 12, 1999
Huge welcome for ship impresses tug's skipper
By ARON PILHOFER
Gannett State Bureau
PHILADELPHIA - Over his 29 years as a tug crewman and captain, Kaare Ogaard Jr. has learned to be prepared for almost anything. But the welcome he received towing the USS New Jersey up the Delaware on Thursday surprised even him.
First Mate Terry Jacobsen echoed the sentiment: "When I saw the people along the river, it made me proud that I was able to bring the ship to them."
Wind, rain, storms, breakdowns - Ogaard saw a little of everything during two months at sea towing the New Jersey. With the ship safely tucked into its temporary berth, Ogaard said the trip was remarkably smooth.
"We were extremely lucky with the weather," he said just after stepping off the tug. The only glitch happened when one of the tug's engines blew a turbo in the Gulf of Mexico after passing through the Panama Canal.
The Sea Victory had to be repaired, and was replaced temporarily by a less powerful vessel. That, in part, is why the New Jersey arrived a few days later than expected.
"That was the only bump in the road. But we don't tow ships this heavy that often," he said. "We aren't a railroad that runs by the minute."
Next, Ogaard and his crew will take the Sea Victory to Jacksonville, Fla., where the tug will be serviced. He and most of the crew will get to fly home on Monday for a well-deserved break - playing a few rounds of golf and catching up with family and friends.
Towing the New Jersey was an experience he won't soon forget.
"It's not just another tow," Ogaard said.
He also captained the tug that towed the USS Missouri - sister Iowa-class ship to the New Jersey - to Hawaii.
"I don't want to compare anything. But it was at least equal to it," he said. "It's something you will remember."