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August 2, 2016 Adventure, Coleman Bridge, Navy, Sailboat charter, Sailing, Sailor, US Coast Guard, Vacation, Wiliamsburg, York River

Navy on Parade

Navy on Parade

On a day of light breezes the Silva family of New Milford, Connecticut, enjoyed an exciting sail on vacation. They got to watch the Navy on parade along the York River.

Navy on ParadeFirst, the destroyer USS Jason Dunham came steaming up from Norfolk. It rounded the turn from York Channel to the York River. As it headed east, we could see the ship get bigger so I pulled out the binoculars and passed them around. We positioned ourselves off Gloucester Beach to see the Coleman Bridge turn close up. The Dunham steamed toward the Naval Weapons Station with the aid of two big tugs. They turned it around to go starboard side in.

Thirty minutes later another destroyer came into view on the same course. We sailed across the river to see the exercise from a different perspective and closer to the ship. The USS Mahan repeated the same path as the Dunham but turned slightly out of the channel in a more centered lane. I had radioed my position and it may have steered to avoid me. The ship came toward the US Coast Guard Training Center. Then a tug chose that moment to push an oil barge across the channel toward the Yorktown Terminal  (formerly Refinery). The photo at the top of the blog captures the crossing precisely.

Open the Bridge!

Navy on ParadeThe Mahan turned to starboard to take the bridge head-on, . But it drifted to a stop because the bridge was still closed. We listened on Channels 13 and 16 to the traffic. The Mahan radio operator was brisk: “Coleman Bridge, this is Navy Warship 72. Request you open the bridge.” The bridge came back: “Warship 72, the tugboat Susan Moran is trying to reach you on Channel 13. I’ve begun opening the bridge.” The US Navy hates to be stopped in the water, becoming a sitting duck.

Navy on ParadeUp on the Coleman Bridge, we pondered the poor soul who told his wife, “Honey, I’m going over the bridge for groceries in Yorktown. Be right back.” He would have been delayed on the Gloucester side for 25 minutes with the first opening, and another 25 minutes on the Yorktown side for the second opening.

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Navy on Parade

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