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The Original Aspen

Aspen (WAGL-204) The original Aspen was a 126-foot tender assigned to the Eleventh Lighthouse District at Detroit, Michigan. In 1903, $75,000 was authorized to build this much needed "patrol steamer" for the St. Mary's River in the Great Lakes. It was built at Craig Shipbuliding Company in Toledo, Ohio. The contract to build the cutter was awarded in 1904, launched in 1905, and commissioned on May 8, 1906.

The cutter complement was originally four officers and eight enlisted, although the number kept rising until finally in 1942 it consisted of two officers and twenty-three enlisted. It was propelled by a single compound reciprocating steam engine capable of producing 424 HP, and reaching speeds of 10.5 kts.

When the cutter was transferred to the Coast Guard in 1942, it was designated WAGL-204. From then until the end of World War II, it was homeported at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where it serviced aids to navigation on the Great Lakes. Often, the tender assisted isolated lighthouses that were located on unapproachable rocks and bars. It achored in deep water and lowered a small boat to take the keepers and their replenishments. Due to incliment weather, this task could take up to several days, requiring the tender to stand by until the small boat could safely negoiate the landing.

In January of 1948, almost exactly a year after it was decommissioned, Aspen was sold into private hands. The hull was spotted near Grand Haven, Michigan, in 1962, in storage for possible conversion or use. More recently, it was bought by Jack Purvis of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He towed it from Alpena where it had been tied up. Finally in 1999, Purvis Marine puit the cutter to rest by scrapping it once and for all.

Read Coast Guard Historian's cutter page for Aspen (WAGL-204).

The Present Aspen

CGC Aspen launched. On April 21, 2001 USCGC Aspen (WLB 208) was launched in Marinette, Wisconsin. She is the eighth of the Juniper Class Seagoing Buoy Tenders built by Marinette Marine Corporation. She is one of the most advanced vessels afloat today, integrating the latest technological developments in computers, navigation, environmental protection, and remote monitoring systems. The Integrated Ships Control System coordinates radar, satellite navigation, and computer-generated charts with the ship's controllable pitch propeller, rudder, and thrusters. With these advancements working in concert, Aspen can maintain station within a 5 meter circle without human intervention. Aspen is also equipped with an advanced oil-skimming system know as the Spilled Oil Recovery System (SORS).

Aspen replaced the 180-foot sea going buoy tender USCGC Buttonwood, which was decommissioned June 28, 2001 after 58 years of service. Buttonwood was sold to the Dominican Republic Navy, where it will continue to carry out many of the same missions as it did for the United States Coast Guard.

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Last Modified 1/12/2016