PANAMA CANAL (NNS) - The guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) successfully completed a northbound Panama Canal transit in the early morning of Oct. 21.
Lake Champlain entered the Miraflores Lock near 10 p.m. Oct 21, and then proceeded north through the Pedro, Miguel and Gatun Locks before emerging at 2 a.m. near Cristobal, Panama.
Sailors stayed awake throughout the night to assist in navigation and line-handling details, as Lake Champlain traveled the 44.5 miles of canal. While waiting in the locks, Lake Champlain was tied to mechanized "mules" that kept the ship centered while the locks were flooded and drained, allowing for 85 feet of elevation change during the transit.
"Even though we transitioned at night you could still see a lot," said Cryptologic Technician 2nd Class Chadwick Snow, from Canton, Mo. "It was pretty amazing looking how everything works, with the large mechanical mules and the giant locks; it was truly a once in a lifetime sight."
Lake Champlain's trip through the Panama Canal was captured by many Sailors taking photographs around the ship, but its transit was also captured live via webcam and broadcast over the internet allowing friends and families a chance to watch the Lake Champlain as she transitioned through the Miraflores Lock.
Quartermaster First Class Brad Stevens, from San Diego, a veteran of the Panama Canal transit, said this time the transit went a lot faster and efficient than his previous experiences transiting the canal.
"It was quick," said Stevens. "Because of the moon being out we got through it in roughly 6 hours when normally it takes ten or more. It was a good transit."
The Lake Champlain is only the third guided-missile cruiser to transit through the Panama Canal this year. This is a rare feat for most West Coast cruisers and their Sailors, making this transition one that the Lake Champlain's crew will remember and talk about for a long time.
"It's pretty awesome," said Snow. "It's definitely something I never thought I'd see in my life. I remember reading about it in high school and now the Navy's given me a chance to see it."
The San Diego-based USS Lake Champlain is currently deploying to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility to support maritime security operations.