January

Daily Chronology of Coast Guard History


1 January


2 January


3 January


4 January

  • 1980-Coast Guard forces narrowly averted an environmental disaster when the 300-foot barge Michelle F, with more than 2.8 million gallons of No. Six industrial fuel aboard grounded one-half mile offshore from the Brigantine Wildlife Refuge.  Much of her cargo was offloaded before she was successfully refloated.
  • 2012-CGC Healy, under the command of CAPT Beverly Havlik, embarked on the first-ever Arctic domestic icebreaking mission while escorting the Russian tanker vessel Renda through 800 miles of Bering Sea pack ice to deliver 1.3 million gallons of fuel to ice-bound Nome, Alaska.  After 10 days of intense, close aboard ice escorting, the two vessels safely arrive on 14 January 2012 and began a 60-hour, over-the-ice fuel transfer while hove to in the ice 468 yards offshore of Nome.

5 January

  • 1883-At 1 o’clock in the afternoon the crew of the Quoddy Head Station discovered a schooner at anchor. The weather was bitter cold, with a gale from the northwest. The men got the station's boat out and pulled to the vessel. She proved to be Clara Dinsmore from Boston. There were four men on board, one of them a passenger. With her sails iced up and splitting, she was in need of assistance. The keeper took charge and got the vessel under way with the sails she had left and beat her up the bay to her destination at 6 in the evening

6 January

  • 1934-The United States Line SS Washington came within inches of ramming the new Light Vessel No. 117 on the Nantucket Station.  The liner scraped the lightship’s side, shearing off davits, a lifeboat, antennas, etc.  Five months later the lightship was sunk by the White Star Line RMS Olympic when it rammed the lightship, killing seven of the lightship's crew.
  • 1973-The Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut, announced that its cadets were served "meals for the first time by female civilian employees."  The Academy had "recently become the first of the nation’s service schools to contract their food services to a civilian company."  Previously, Coast Guard personnel had done the serving.

7 January

  • 1877-The French steamer Amerique grounded off Sea Bright, New Jersey. Saved were 189 persons, rescued by the Life-Saving Service crew.  Despite their efforts though three died.
  • 1947-During Operation Highjump, Coast Guard icebreaker CGC Northwind successfully completed the first major rescue mission involving a submarine.  USS Sennet (SS-408) and supply ships Yance and Merrick were stuck in ice flow at the Antarctic Circle.
  • 1982-LT Colleen A. Cain, the Coast Guard's first female HH-52 helicopter pilot, died in the line of duty when HH-52 CG-1420, on which she was co-pilot, crashed into a mountainside 50 miles east of Honolulu.  The pilot, LCDR H. W. Johnson, and aircrewman AD2 D.  L. Thompson, were also killed.
  • 1994-The barge Morris J. Berman, carrying a cargo of 750,000 gallons of oil, struck a reef off Puerto Rico. Coast Guard units, including the National Strike Force, responded.

8 January

  • 1958-The Coast Guard LORAN Station at Johnston Island began transmitting on a 24-hour basis, thus establishing a new LORAN rate in the Central Pacific. The new rate between Johnston Island and French Frigate Shoal gave a higher order of accuracy for fixing positions in the steamship lanes from Oahu, Hawaii, to Midway Island. In the past, this was impossible in some areas along this important shipping route.

9 January

  • 1844-The first published and systematic annual report of the Revenue Marine Bureau was transmitted to Congress on 9 January 1844 by the head of the Bureau, Revenue Captain Alexander Fraser, the service's first "Commandant."  The report noted that the Revenue Marine consisted of 15 revenue schooners varying in size from 60 to 170 tons.  The cutters were stationed at Eastport, Portland, Boston, Newport, New York, Delaware Bay, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, Key West, Mobile, New Orleans and Lake Erie.  The report also noted that the number of personnel of the Revenue Marine consisted of 20 captains, 20 first lieutenants, 20 second lieutenants, 20 third lieutenants, 45 petty officers, 7 pilots, 30 stewards, 15 cooks, and 323 seamen.
  • 1945-Coast Guardsmen participated in the liberation of Luzon in the Philippines.  Sixteen Coast Guard-manned vessels and seven other Navy vessels with partial Coast Guard crews took part in the offensive.
  • 1952-SS Pennsylvania broadcasted that she had sustained a 14-foot crack in her port side.  A tremendous sea was running, and the wind exceeded 55 miles per hour.  The master advised that the vessel was foundering and that 45 men were abandoning ship in four lifeboats 665 miles west of Cape Flattery, WA.  The Coast Guard used all the facilities at its command in the area, as well as coordinating the use of U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Royal Canadian Air Force facilities in an attempt to locate and rescue the survivors of the vessel.  Fifty-one aircraft from all services and 18 surface vessels participated in the search.  Some of the debris was located, including one over-turned lifeboat, but no survivors were found.

11 January

  • 1755/57-Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and the "father" of the U.S. Coast Guard, was born on this day in either 1755 or 1757 in the town of Nevis, British West Indies.
  • 1882-At 9 a.m during a thick snowstorm, the schooner A .F. Ames of Rockland, Maine, was bound from Perth Amboy to Boston with a crew of seven persons. She stranded during a thick snowstorm five hundred yards east of Race Point and one mile and three-quarters west of Station No. 6, Second District. The vessel was discovered by the patrol and the life-saving crew boarded her at 9:15 o’clock. She was leaking and pounding heavily. The pumps were manned to keep the water down. The vessel was floated on the rising tide and made sail. She was piloted into deep water. The leak, however, was gaining rapidly. After consulting with the captain, the vessel was put on the beach. The crew was sheltered at the station until the 13th when the keeper sent them to Boston.
  • 1991-Coast Guard units responded after receiving a distress call from F/V Sea King, a 75-foot stern trawler with four persons on board that was taking on water and in danger of sinking off Peacock Spit near the mouth of the Columbia River.  The Coast Guard units that responded included a prototype 47-foot MLB, two 44-foot MLBs, the 52-foot MLB CG-52314 Triumph II, and a Coast Guard helicopter.  Despite valiant efforts to save the vessel, it capsized and sank.  Three Coast Guardsmen who went aboard the vessel to assist were safely rescued from the water.  Another, MK1 Charles Sexton, an emergency medical technician who went aboard the Sea King to assist an injured crewman, was pulled from the water but died 50 minutes after his arrival at a local hospital.  MK1 Sexton was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard Medal.

12 January

  • 1850-The wreck of Ayrshire on occurred on Squan Beach, New Jersey on this date in 1850.  All but one of the 202 persons on board were saved by a life car. This was the first recorded use of a life car in the U.S.
  • 1943-Coast Guardsmen participated in the landings at Amchitka, Alaska.
  • 1961-Two Coast Guard craft from the Cape Disappointment Lifeboat Station [LBS], CG-40564 and CG-36454, answered a call for assistance from the 38-foot crab boat Mermaid, with two crew on board, which had lost its rudder near the breakers off  Peacock Spit.  CG-40564 located the Mermaid and took her in tow.   Due to adverse sea conditions the crew of CG-40564 requested the assistance of CG-52301 "Triumph," stationed at Point Adams LBS, which took up the tow upon her arrival on scene.  Heavy breakers capsized CG-40564 and battered the CG-36454 but the 36-foot motor lifeboat [MLB] stayed afloat.  The crew of 36454 then located and rescued the crew of the 40564 and then made for the Columbia River Lightship.  The crew of the 36454 managed to deposit safely all on board the lightship before it too foundered.  Soon thereafter a heavy breaker hit Triumph which parted the tow line, set the Mermaid adrift, and capsized the Triumph.   The crew of the Mermaid then rescued one of the six crewman on board Triumph.   CG-36554 and CG-36535, also from the Point Adams LBS, then arrived on scene and 36535 took the Mermaid in tow.  Another large breaker hit, snapping the 36535's tow line and sinking the Mermaid.   CGC Yocona arrived on scene soon after Coast Guard aircraft UF 2G No. 1273 from Air Station Port Angeles and began searching for survivors.  Other CG aircraft, including UF 2G 2131, UF 2G 1240 and HO 4S 1330, arrived and began dropping flares.   Foot patrols from the life-boat stations searched the beaches as well and recovered one Coast Guard survivor.  Ultimately five Coast Guard crewman, all from MLB CG-52301 Triumph, drowned, as did both of the Mermaid's crew.
  • 2009-CGC Boutwell departed Alameda, CA, on an around-the-world cruise as part of the USS Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group.
  • 2010-A devastating earthquake struck Haiti.  CGCs Forward, Mohawk and Tahoma were the first U.S. assets to arrive on scene at Port au Prince, with Forward arriving the morning of 13 January 2010 and Mohawk arriving in the afternoon.  These units provided air traffic control for military aircraft, conducted damage assessments of the port, and ferried supplies and injured people with embarked boats and helicopters.  Other Coast Guard assets began arriving soon thereafter to assist in the recovery efforts, including the CGC Oak and aircraft from AIRSTA Clearwater.

13 January

  • 1853-The ship Cornelius Grinnell grounded in a heavy surf off Squan Beach New Jersey. A surf car was used to rescue safely all 234 persons on board.
  • 1925-Congress authorized the Coast Guard to assist in the enforcement of the Alaskan Game Law.
  • 1918-Surfmen from the Humboldt Bay Lifesaving Station rescued the 430-man crew of the Navy cruiser USS Milwaukee safely after the cruiser ran aground.  Milwaukee had been attempting to pull a grounded submarine off of Samoa Beach, near Eureka, California, when she too ran aground and was a total loss.
  • 1982-Air Florida Flight 90 crashed onto the 14th Street Bridge and then into the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., during a heavy snow storm.  Coast Guard units, including cutters Capstan and Madrona, divers from the Atlantic Strike Team, a helicopter from AIRSTA Elizabeth City, personnel from Curtis Bay, and reservists from Station Washington assisted in the rescue of the five surviving passengers and the recovery of the aircraft's wreckage.  The plane crushed several cars and killed five people on the bridge.  All told seventy-four persons lost their lives.

14 January

  • 1942-A Coast Guard aircraft, Hall PH-3 No. V-177, dropped food to a raft with six survivors of a torpedoed tanker in one of hundreds of such incidents carried out by Coast Guard aircraft during the war.  This tanker had been the victim of a German U-boat attack off the coast of the United States.
  • 1985-Vice President George Bush made an official visit to Base Miami Beach to extend the thanks of the nation to those involved in Operation Hat Trick,  an "all-out" effort to stop smugglers soon after they had left ports in Central and South America.  The vice president decorated 15 Coast Guardsmen.
  • 2004-CGC Thetis rescued three shrimp fishermen from the fishing vessel Dona Nelly after they were in the water for 45 minutes after their vessel sank 15 miles off the coast of Brownsville, Texas.

15 January

  • 1836-A General Order from the Secretary of the Treasury prescribed that "Blue cloth be substituted for the uniform dress of the officers of the Revenue Cutter Service, instead of grey. . ." thereby ending a controversy that had brewed for years regarding the uniforms of the Service.

  • 1947-The first helicopter flight to the base "Little America" in Antarctica took place.  The pilot was LT James A. Cornish, USCG and he carried Chief Photographer's Mate Everett Mashburn as his observer.  They flew from CGC Northwind.

  • 1966-When winds of 30 to 50 knots hit the southern California coast, surface craft off the 11th Coast Guard District rendered assistance to six grounded vessels, three disabled sailboats, and three capsized vessels. They also responded to seven other distress cases. A Coast Guard helicopter played a prominent role in one of the cases by evacuating the five-man crew of the vessel Trilogy that had gone aground and broken up on Santa Cruz Island.
  • 1974-The first group of women ever enlisted as regulars in the Coast Guard began their 10-week basic training at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May.  Thirty-two women were in the initial group and formed Recruit Company Sierra-89.
  • 1993-In response to a massive increase in the number of Haitians fleeing their country by sea that began in October, 1991, President-elect William Clinton ordered the commencement of Operation Able Manner on this date in 1993.  It was the largest SAR operation ever undertaken by the Coast Guard to that time.  Twenty-nine cutters were initially involved, as were aircraft from 10 air stations and five US Navy vessels.  

16 January

  • 1920-Prohibition, later called the "noble experiment" by President Herbert Hoover, became the law of the land on 16 January 1920, one year after the 36th state ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.  Enforcement of the law fell to the Department of the Treasury and the Coast Guard was charged with interdicting the flow of "Demon Rum" at sea before it reached American shores.
  • 1944-LT Stewart R. Graham became the first person to make a helicopter take-off and landing aboard a ship underway at sea when he piloted a Sikorsky HNS-1 off of and back on the SS Daghestan in the North Atlantic.
  • 1948-The list of nominations for appointments and promotions of Coast Guard officers transmitted to Congress by the President on this date represented the first permanent advancements of Coast Guard regular officers since the summer of 1942.
  • 1988-Coast Guard units responded to a report of a murder on board the container vessel Boxer Captain Cook.  The ship's first officer reportedly murdered the captain and threw his body overboard.  A boarding party from CGC Northland, offloaded onto CGC Cape York, boarded the vessel while it was underway on the high seas and captured the suspected murderer and collected evidence of the crime.
  • 1990-CGC Mellon fired a Harpoon anti-ship missile in a live-fire test, becoming the first cutter to fire the missile.

17 January

  • 1832- Treasury Secretary Louis McLane discontinued the practice of hiring unemployed Navy officers as senior Revenue Cutter Service officers.  All vacancies from that point forward were to be filled by promotions from within the service.  Secretary McLane's actions brought a tremendous boost to morale among Revenue cuttermen as they had long complained about the slow line of promotion caused by unemployed Navy officers "grabbing up" senior positions.
  • 1972-CGC Storis seized two Soviet fishing vessels, the 362-foot factory vessel Lamut and the 278-foot stern trawler Kolyvan, for fishing inside the 12-mile U.S. contiguous zone.
  • 1994-Coast Guard units and family members assisted those in need after an earthquake hit Los Angeles, California.

18 January

  • 1938-CGC Bibb returned to Norfolk after a 10-day post-trial run from Norfolk to the Virgin Islands and back again with the Commandant, RADM Russell R. Waesche, aboard.  During the run Bibb went to the aid of the four-masted schooner Albert F. Paul, which had lost its topsails and was leaking badly.  The Paul was taken in tow and Bibb proceeded under reduced speed.  CGC Sebago was contacted by radio and relieved Bibb of the tow.  During the cruise, "constant communication was maintained between Bibb and Radio Station Fort Hunt, Virginia (NMH)."
  • 1953-A Coast Guard PBM seaplane crashed off the Chinese coast near Swatow, China during takeoff after having rescued 11 survivors from a ditched U .S. Navy aircraft that had been shot down by Chinese anti-aircraft fire.  A total of nine servicemen lost their lives in this second crash, including five of the Coast Guard aircrew.  The survivors were later rescued by the USS Halsey Powell (DD-686).  The entire Coast Guard PBM aircrew were awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for their actions.
  • 1974-Coast Guard units rescued 61 crewmembers from the 551-foot tanker Keytrader and the 657-foot Norwegian freighter Baune after the two vessels collided on the night of 18 January 1974 in dense fog.  Sixteen other crewmembers did not survive.  Keytrader was carrying 18,000 tons of fuel oil.  A 53-foot Coast Guard vessel assisted in fighting the ensuing fire.  
  • 2003-On 18 January CGC Walnut departed from her homeport in Honolulu, Hawaii and began her 10,000 mile transit to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  This 45-day transit was completed as quickly as possible with brief stops for fuel and food along the way in Guam, Singapore, Kuwait.  The cutter deployed with an oil spill recovery system in the event the regime of Saddam Hussein committed any acts of environmental terrorism.  When those threats did not materialize, the cutter then conducted maritime interception operations enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions, participated in the search for two downed United Kingdom helicopters, and patrolled and provided assistance to captured Iraqi offshore oil terminals being secured by Coast Guard port security personnel.   The cutter’s crew completely replaced 30 buoys and repaired an additional five along the 41-mile Khawr Abd Allah Waterway.  This ATON mission vastly improved the navigational safety of the waterway for humanitarian aid, commercial, and military vessels sailing to the port and was a critical step to economic recovery for the people of Iraq.

19 January

  • 1935-Chief Warrant Gunner and Naval Aviation Pilot (CWO-GUN; NAP)  Charles T. Thrun, USCG, Coast Guard Aviator Number 3, was killed when his Grumman JF-2 Duck crashed at Cape May.  CWO Thrun was the first Coast Guard aviator to die in the line of duty. 
  • 1937-Coast Guard units began flood relief operations in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. These operations lasted until 11 March and resulted in the rescue of hundreds of victims and thousands of farm animals.
  • 1946-Staged jointly by the Coast Guard and the Navy, the first public demonstration of LORAN was held at Floyd Bennett Field in New York.
  • 1949-The tanker Gulfstream collided with icebreaker CGC Eastwind. The collision and resulting fire killed 13 of Eastwind's crew, nine of whom were chief petty officers.
  • 1969-CGC Absecon, while on ocean station duty, was directed to assist the sinking M/V Ocean SprinterAbsecon launched a small boat and rescued all of the merchant vessel's crew.  The five Coast Guardsmen manning the small boat received the Coast Guard Medal for their actions.
  • 1996-The tug Scandia and its barge, the North Cape, ran aground on the shore of Rhode Island, spilling 828,000 gallons of oil.  This was the worst spill in that state's history.  The Coast Guard rescued the entire crew, pumped off 1.5 million gallons of oil and conducted skimming operations.

20 January

  • 1914-The International Ice Patrol Convention was signed.
  • 1915-Congress passed the "Act to Create the Coast Guard" on this date in 1915 (38 Stat. L., 800).  The act combined the Life-Saving Service and Revenue Cutter Service to form the Coast Guard.  President Woodrow Wilson signed the act on 28 January 1915. 
  • 1961-During his inaugural parade, President John F. Kennedy noticed that there were no African-Americans in the Coast Guard Academy cadet unit marching in the parade. He told his speechwriter, Richard Goodwin, "That's not acceptable. Something ought to be done about it. Goodwin called Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon the next day and Dillon ordered the Academy "to scrutinize the Academy's recruitment policy to make sure it did not discriminate against blacks."
  • 1984-Coast Guard units responded to a six-alarm fire along Boston's waterfront.  The fire began early on the morning of 20 January on the Boston and Maine Railroad Bridge directly behind Boston Garden and North Station.  The Boston Fire Department requested Coast Guard assistance and MSO Boston coordinated the response.  Small boats from Station Boston responded while personnel from ATON Team Boston, Support Center Boston, Point Allerton Station, and CGCs Pendant, Chase, White Heath, Nantucket I and Nantucket II also assisted.

21 January

  • 1881-The light was first shown at Tillamook Lighthouse, located 19 miles south of the Columbia River entrance.
  • 1969-CGC Point Banks, while on patrol south of Cam Rahn Bay, received a call for assistance from a nine-man South Vietnamese (ARVN) detachment trapped by two Vietcong platoons.  Petty Officers Willis Goff and Larry Villareal took a 14-foot Boston whaler ashore to rescue the ARVN troops.  In the face of heavy automatic weapons fire all nine men were evacuated in two trips. For their actions Goff and Villareal were each awarded the Silver Star. The citation stated, "The nine men would have met almost certain death or capture without the assistance of the two Coast Guardsmen."
  • 1982-"Streamlining" plans were put into place when the Commandant, ADM John B. Hayes, announced in ALCOAST 002/82 his plans to consolidate some operations and streamline others to comply with President Ronald Reagan's goals of "greater efficiency in federal spending," and in accordance with Congressional appropriation levels.  The service eliminated 35 units, including the West Coast Training Center at Alameda, and consolidated all recruit training to TRACEN Cape May.  
  • 1984-The tanker Cepheus ran aground near Anchorage, Alaska, on the morning of 21 January 1984, spilling 180,000 gallons of jet fuel into Cook Inlet.  MSO Anchorage and the Pacific Strike Team responded to the incident and monitored the offloading of the damaged tanker and cleared its passage out of Alaska.  The light jet fuel evaporated with little environmental impact.

22 January

  • 1944-Coast Guardsmen participated in Operation Shingle--the landings at Anzio-Nettuno, Italy.  Coast Guard units involved were USS PC-545 and LSTs 16, 326, 327, and 381.
  • 1987-The Coast Guard established the Air Interdiction Facility at Norfolk Naval Air Station.  The aircrews flew two loaned Navy E-2C Hawkeye aircraft on narcotics interdiction patrols.

23 January

  • 1909-The schooner Roderick Dhu was discovered in distress on the bar by a Life-Saving Service patrol from the Point Bonita, California station. The schooner had been in tow by a tug, but parted hawsers when 5 1/2 miles SW of a LSS station.  She hoisted a signal, and the keeper reported her condition to the Merchant's Exchange.  A tug was sent out and the schooner was towed to sea.  The next day she was towed into port, leaking badly, and convoyed by the USRC McCulloch.


24 January

  • 1968-Seifu Maru, a Japanese refrigerator vessel, reported a fire and requested clearance to enter Dutch Harbor, Alaska to combat it. They also reported that two crewmembers had been overcome by smoke and requested their evacuation for hospital treatment. Clearance was granted and CGC Citrus was ordered to proceed and assist in fighting the fire. The burning ship arrived in Dutch Harbor on Jan 24 and advised that the fire was raging between the decks. Fire fighting parties from Citrus began assisting the crew of the Japanese vessel. Coast Guard aircraft evacuated three patients from Seifu Maru to Kodiak for hospitalization. The fire assistance rendered by Citrus in a four-day operation saved the Japanese vessel.

  • 1984-MSO Memphis responded to what appeared to be a routine grounding when three barges being towed down river by the M/V Karman P. broke away 40 miles south of Memphis on 24 January 1984.  Initial reports passed to MSO Memphis by way of Group Lower Mississippi River said the tank barge APEX-3506, with one million gallons of slurry-grade number six oil had grounded with "no damage and no pollution."  After a boarding team arrived and found the barge sinking and having no means to lighter the cargo, they called in the Gulf Strike Team.  Eventually, through the efforts of MSO Memphis, Gulf Strike Team, Atlantic Strike Team, National Strike Force Dive Team, and the Navy Superintendent of Salvage as well as a private salvage firm, the barge's cargo was lightered and the barge itself saved.


25 January

  • 1799-Having existed essentially nameless for 8-1/2 years, Alexander Hamilton's "system of cutters" was referred to in legislation as "Revenue Cutters."  Some decades later, the name evolved to Revenue Cutter Service and Revenue Marine.
  • 1940-The ocean station program was formally established on this date in 1940 under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt.  The Coast Guard, in cooperation with the U. S. Weather Service, was given responsibility for its establishment and operation.  The program was first known as the Atlantic Weather Observation Service and later by thousands of Coast Guardsmen who served after World War II as the "Ocean Station" (OS) program.  Cutters were dispatched for 30-day patrols to transmit weather observations and serve as a SAR standby for transoceanic aircraft.  The program ended in the 1970s.

  • 2004-A helicopter crew from AIRSTA Detroit helped rescue 14 people stranded on an ice floe about one mile west of Catawba Island, Ohio.


26 January

  • 1953-Coast Guard forces assisted civilian authorities in evacuating 191 persons from the Coxuille Valley flood area.
  • 1963-The modern Canadian Coast Guard was founded on this date.  Their official motto is Saluti Primum, Auxilio Semper (Safety First, Service Always).
  • 1991-Upon receiving a request from the Saudi government the Bush Administration determined that the Coast Guard would head an interagency team to assist the Saudi government in an oil spill assessment and plan for a clean-up operation after an intentional Iraqi oil spill.
  • 1990-Coast Guard Air Station St. Augustine, home of CGAW-1, was formally commissioned on 26 January 1990.  The Navy loaned E2Cs to the Coast Guard for use in the efforts by CGAW-1 to track drug shipments by radar.  One E2C, #3501, crashed during a landing at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, on 24 August 1990 and all four crewmen on board were killed.  CGAW-1 was disbanded soon thereafter and the remaining E2Cs were returned to the Navy.

27 January

  • 1909-The schooner Nelson Y. McFarland issued a distress call after dropping anchor near the White Head, Maine, Life-Saving Service station.  Although anchored against the tide, she was becalmed, yet her stern swung so close to the ledge that "a change of wind or tide would have thrown the vessel upon the rocks.  A pulling boat and crew from the station responded to the call and the men rowed to the ship's aid.  After a 3-hours' pull the surfmen succeeded in towing the schooner to a safe anchorage in Seal Harbor."

  • 1993-Communications Station Guam received a mayday broadcast from the M/V East Wood.  The ship's radio operator claimed that the vessel had been taken over by hijackers and that there were 400 people in the vessel's two main cargo holds.  Another transmission claimed that 10 persons were going to be thrown overboard.  The Coast Guard dispatched an HC-130 from AIRSTA Barbers Point and ordered CGC Rush to intercept.  A boarding team from the Rush seized the vessel and escorted it to an Army installation on the Marshall Islands.  There were 527 Chinese nationals and 10 crewmembers aboard.  The Chinese nationals were repatriated to China and nine of the crewmen were sent to Indonesia.  The 10th crewman was taken to Honolulu to investigate whether prosecution was possible under U.S. law.


28 January

  • 1885-Keeper Marcus Hanna of the Cape Elizabeth Light Station saved two men from the wrecked schooner Australia. For this rescue Hanna was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal. He was also awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Port Hudson in 1863. He is the only person to have ever received both awards.
  • 1915- President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the "Act to Create the Coast Guard," an act passed by Congress on 20 January 1915 that combined the Life-Saving Service and Revenue Cutter Service to form the Coast Guard (38 Stat. L., 800).  The Coast Guard, however, still considers the date of the founding of the Revenue Cutter Service, 4 August 1790, as its official birthday, even though the Lighthouse Service, absorbed in 1939, is even older than that, dating to 7 August 1789.  Under the new law the Coast Guard officially became "part of the regular military establishment of the United States."
  • 1980- CGC Blackthorn sank in Tampa Bay after colliding with the tanker Capricorn.   Twenty-three Coast Guard personnel were killed in the tragedy. 
  • 1986- NASA's space shuttle Challenger exploded after lift-off, killing the entire crew.  Coast Guard units, including the cutters Dallas, Dauntless, Harriet Lane, Bear, Tampa, Cherokee, Sweetgum, and Point Roberts conducted the initial search and rescue operations and later assisted in the recovery of much of the shuttle's wreckage.  Other units included personnel from Station Port Canaveral, air stations Miami, Clearwater, and Savannah as well as Coast Guard reservists and Auxiliarists.  Dallas served as the on-scene commander for what was a joint Coast Guard, NASA, Navy and Air Force search and recovery operation.
  • 2003- DoD submitted a request for Coast Guard forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  The Commandant, ADM Thomas Collins, approved that request and ordered the deployment of eight 110-foot patrol boats, crews, and support units.  The cutters were CGCs: Wrangell, Adak, Aquidneck, Baranof, Grand Isle, Bainbridge Island, Pea Island, and Knight Island.

29 January

  • 1919-Ratification of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution occurred on this date in 1919.  The amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages.  Its enforcement was authorized by the National Prohibition Enforcement Act, otherwise known as the Volstead Act that was passed on 28 October 1919.  The Coast Guard was tasked with the prevention of the maritime importation of illegal alcohol.  This led to the largest increase in the size and responsibilities of the service to date.
  • 1938-CGC Bibb reported for duty in connection with the U.S. Navy exercises held off Culebra, Puerto Rico.
  • 1945-The Coast Guard-manned attack cargo vessel USS Serpens exploded off Guadalcanal due to unknown causes.  Only two men aboard survived.  This was the single greatest Coast Guard loss of life in history.
  • 1980-Local authorities in the Tijuana, Mexico area requested Coast Guard assistance in evacuating flood victims stranded by the rising waters of the San Miguel River.  Two HH-3F helicopters from Air Station San Diego transported 180 persons to safety during the two-day operation.

30 January

  • 1861-Treasury Secretary John A. Dix ordered Lieutenant. S. B. Caldwell, the second in command of the cutter McClelland, "to arrest Capt. Breshwood [the cutter's commanding officer and a Confederate sympathizer] assume command of cutter and if anyone attempts to haul down the flag, shoot him on the spot." The message was not delivered by the telegraph office. Breshwood turned McClelland over to the State of Louisiana where the cutter ended up in Confederate service.  The northern papers reported the story though and the Secretary's order became a rallying cry in support of the Union's war effort.
  • 1942-The capsized wreck of CGC Alexander Hamilton was sunk by the Navy after U-132 torpedoed the cutter off the coast of Iceland the previous day.  She was the first cutter sunk by enemy action during World War II.  Twenty-six of her crew perished in the attack.
  • 1942-USS Wakefield, the former passenger liner SS Manhattan converted to a troop transport and manned by a Coast Guard crew, transported British troops to Singapore.  Having disembarked the troops, she was bombed by Japanese aircraft while still tied up on 30 January 1942.  Five of her Coast Guard crew were killed and nine were wounded.  After temporary repairs, Wakefield evacuated 500 women and children to Bombay before the port fell to the Japanese
  • 1979-There was an explosion at the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment office at Ponce Playa, Port Ponce, Puerto Rico.  The OVPR (Organizacion De Voluntarios Por La Revelucion Puerto Riquena) claimed responsibility.  The terrorist attack caused no casualties and little damage to the facility.
  • 1982-Coast Guard 8th District units responded to the flooding of the Calcasieu River near Lake Charles, Louisiana.  Up river Coast Guard boats searched daily for stranded people and domestic animals.  Downriver COTP Port Arthur and Marine Safety Detachment Lake Charles wrestled with the problem of strong currents and four run-away barges that destroyed one bridge and threatened two others.

31 January

  • 1942-HMS Culver (ex-CGC Mendota--one of the "Lake" Class cutters transferred to the Royal Navy in 1941 under the Lend-Lease program) was torpedoed and sunk with only 13 survivors.
  • 1948-Mrs. Fannie M. Salter, keeper of the Turkey Point Lighthouse in upper Chesapeake Bay since 1925 and the last woman keeper of a lighthouse in the United States, retired from active service. The first woman had been hired as a lighthouse keeper 150 years before.  Salter's retirement temporarily closed the tradition of women serving as keepers at lighthouses.
  • 1968-Coast Guard SPAR Chief Storekeeper Mary Ashley Rose retired "after a career of more than 20 years of service in the Coast Guard.  Chief Rose is the first enlisted woman to retire from active duty in the Coast Guard."
  • 1975-CGC Vigorous (WMEC-627) became the first cutter to make a seizure of a foreign-flag fishing vessel in the high seas when she seized the Italian fishing vessel Tontini Pesca Cuarto for illegally taking lobster.  All of the other fishery seizures prior to this were of vessels that had violated territorial seas (TS) or Contiguous Fishing Zone (CFZ).  At the time, Vigorous was under the command of CDR Paul Welling, USCG.  The arresting officer was ENS S.T. Fuger, Jr., USCG.
  • 2001-Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crashed off the coast of California near the Channel Islands, killing all 88 on board.  Coast Guard Channel Island Station crewmen responded to the tragedy.
  • 2004-The crews of a 47-foot MLB from Station Chincoteague and a rescue helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City combined to rescue five men after their vessel began taking on water 25 miles east of Chincoteague.

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Last Modified 10/31/2014