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Daily Chronology of Coast Guard History

1 March

2 March

  • 1889-Congress authorized the Secretary of Treasury to keep rivers clear to afford marine species access to their spawning grounds.
  • 1912-The Revenue cutter Hartley seized the vessel Morning Star in Oakland Creek and arrested her crew for carrying 21 "contraband" Chinese migrants.
  • 1978-Mexican authorities requested Coast Guard assistance after severe rainstorms caused significant flooding in Baja.  Two HH-3Fs from AIRSTA San Diego began evacuating people for Ensenada.  An HC-130 from AIRSTA San Francisco and a third HH-3F from San Diego joined the flood relief operations.  As of 8 March, Coast Guard aviation units had flown 59 sorties and 77 flight hours, transported 349 persons to safety and delivered 74,600 lbs. of relief supplies in operations covering Ensenada, Tijuana, Santa Ynes, San Quintin, Punta Colnett, Camalu, Guadlupe, El Rosario and La Mission.  Through the Mexican Secretary of Defense and the Governor of Baja California, the President of Mexico relayed his personal appreciation and that of the Mexican people to all Coast Guard personnel involved.
  • 2015-CGC Diligence returned to its homeport of Wilmington, North Carolina, following a 46-day patrol in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. During the patrol, Diligence was diverted to conduct a search and rescue mission of four Italian sailors aboard the 30-foot sailing vessel Algeria, which became disabled off the Coast of Panama. The four sailors had been underway on the Algeria for more than a month navigating from Italy to Costa Rica when the vessel became disabled. Diligence traveled more than 175 miles to Algeria’s location and then towed the sailing vessel to safety in Chiriqui Grande, Panama. During the patrol, the crew aboard Diligence conducted search and rescue operations off the coast of Panama, drug interdiction operations in the vicinity of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, and alien migrant interdiction operations in the Straits of Florida.  Diligence patrolled in support of the Joint Interagency Task Force South’s Operation Martillo in the Western Caribbean Sea from Honduras to Columbia.

3 March

  • 1819- Congress authorized the revenue cutters to protect merchant vessels of United States against piracy and to seize vessels engaged in slave trade.  The cutters Louisiana and Alabama were built shortly thereafter to assist in the government's efforts against piracy.
  • 1837-An Act of Congress (5 Stat. L., 181, 185) laid down certain restrictions, by providing that the construction of the large number of new lighthouses, lightships, etc., for which this law was appropriating the necessary funds, would not be begun until examined by Board of Navy Commissioners. They reported to Congress those cases where the "navigation is so inconsiderable as not to justify the proposed works." The Navy detailed 22 officers to this duty and, before the end of the year, their recommendations resulted in the deferment of the construction of 31 lighthouses already appropriated for.
  • 1839-Congress directed that Revenue Captain Ezekial Jones, commanding the revenue cutter Washington in the Seminole War, be allowed the same pay as a lieutenant in the Navy would receive for like services.
  • 1845-Congress authorized the President to appoint six engineers (later amplified by Act of February 4, 1863) and six assistant engineers, one of each to be assigned to each revenue steamer then in the service.  Engineers were to receive the same pay as first lieutenants and assistant engineers the same pay as third lieutenants.
  • 1845-Congress directed no person be appointed as a revenue cutter officer "who does not adduce competent proof of proficiency and skill in navigation and seamanship."  This was the first official underway qualifications established for the service.
  • 1845-The duties of the Fifth Auditor of the Treasury as Superintendent of Lights was first put on a statutory basis by an Act of Congress (5 Stat. L., 752. 762), which prescribed that "the Fifth Auditor of the Treasury, shall continue to superintend the several matters and things connected with the light-houses, beacons, buoys, and public piers, as heretofore, of the United States, and to perform all the duties connected therewith, under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, until otherwise ordered by law."
  • 1847-Congress appropriated $5000 "for furnishing lighthouses on the Atlantic Coast with means of rendering assistance to shipwrecked mariners." This was the first federal appropriation for rendering assistance to the shipwrecked from shore.  
  • 1849-The Office of Commissioner of Customs was created.  The local Collectors took over control of the revenue cutters within their jurisdictions.
  • 1859-An Act of Congress (11 Stat. L., 423, 424) authorized the Lighthouse Board to use its own discretion in the discontinuance as necessary of such lighthouses as might become useless by reason of changes in commerce, alteration in channels, or other causes.
  • 1873-Signal Corps of Army established a storm signal service for benefit of seafaring men, at several life-saving stations and constructed telegraph lines as a means of communication between the stations.
  • 1875-Secretary of the Treasury was authorized by Congress to acquire by donation or purchase the right to use and acquire sites for life saving and life boat stations.
  • 1885-Congress authorized Secretary of the Treasury to detail officers and men of Revenue Marine Service to duty under the commissioner of Fish and Fisheries Division of the Bureau of Fisheries when they could be spared for such duty.
  • 1899-An Act of Congress (30 Stat. L., 1121, 1152) required that, whenever a vessel, raft, or other craft was wrecked and sunk in a navigable channel, it became the duty of the owner to immediately mark the sunken craft with a suitable buoy or beacon during the day and a lighted lantern at night.  Previously, the Lighthouse Establishment had been authorized by Congress to place, when considered necessary, a lightship or other suitable warning of danger on any wreck or temporary obstruction to the entrance of any harbor or in the channel of any bay or sound.
  • 1905-Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to acquire a suitable site in the state of Maryland upon which to establish a depot for the Revenue Cutter Service; this station became the Coast Guard Yard.
  • 1915-An Act of Congress (38 Stat. L., 926, 928) provided for cooperation between the Lighthouse Service and the Forest Service in the management of the forest land on lighthouse reservations.
  • 1918-By Act of Congress (38 Stat. L., 928), the protection afforded the aids to navigation maintained by the United States government was extended to those established and operated by private individuals.
  • 1947-The SS Oakey S. Alexander reported being in distress 22 miles east of Portland, Maine, with a hatch stove in and shipping water.  CGC Cowslip immediately proceeded on orders from Portland to assist.  When she began breaking up, the ship's commanding officer decided to beach at Cape Elizabeth.  Cowslip arrived on the scene but was unable to approach the beached vessel because of heavy seas.  All 32 crewmembers, however, were removed safely from the ship by Coast Guardsmen from the Cape Elizabeth Light and Lifeboat Station using a breeches buoy.

4 March

  • 1907-Congress appropriated $30,000 for installing wireless telegraphs on not more than 12 revenue cutters.  USRC Algonquin as the first cutter fitted with the new technology with money appropriated from this act.
  • 1915-Secretary of the Treasury was authorized by Congress to detail cutters to enforce anchorage regulations in all harbors, rivers, bays and other navigable waters of United States.
  • 1925-An Act of Congress (43 Stat. L., 1261), for the first time, provided for disability retirement within the Lighthouse Service.
  • 1929-Congress appropriated $144,000 for seaplanes and equipment for Coast Guard.
  • 1952-An air detachment consisting of three helicopters and necessary personnel established as the first unit of its type on a test basis (at AIRSTA Brooklyn) began operating in support of port security operations.
  • 1977-ENS Janna Lambine, USCG, graduated from naval aviation training at NAS Whiting Field, Milton, Florida, becoming the first female pilot in the Coast Guard.  

5 March

  • 1881-The crew of Life-Saving Station No. 10, Ninth District (Louisville), won acclaim with a dangerous rescue at the wreck of James D. Parker, a well-known river boat lost in the Indiana chute of the Ohio Falls.  She was a stern-wheel steamer of over 500 tons owned by the Cincinnati and Memphis Packet Company and bound from Cincinnati to Memphis.  Her crew numbered 50, including the captain, and she had 55 passengers on board, a number of whom were women and children.

6 March

  • 1896-Secretary of the Treasury was authorized to detail cutters to enforce anchorage regulations on the St. Mary’s River.
  • 1932-Five members of Station Atlantic City were lost in the line of duty when station personnel responded to the gas screw vessel Anna and a motor boat in distress off Atlantic City.  Two of the station's boats were lost in the heavy seas: Picket Boat No. 2301 capsized outside the bar while responding to the original distress situation and then surfboat No. 2301 disappeared while proceeding to the assistance of the picket boat crew.  Lost were: Surfman David A. Barnett, Surfman William R. Garton, MoMM2c (L) William Graham, Surfman Harold Livingston and BM2c (L) Marvin E. Rhoades.
  • 1998-The Coast Guard commissioned CGC Barracuda (WPB 87301) on this date in 1998.  The new patrol boat was assigned to Eureka, California.  Barracuda was the first vessel of the new 87-foot Marine Predator class patrol boats built by Bollinger Shipyards for the Coast Guard to replace the venerable 82-foot Point Class patrol boats. 

7 March

  • 1883-  A dramatic rescue was performed by the crew of Assateague Life-Saving Station in Virginia using a surfboat through a howling storm to save the ten persons stranded on the sinking barkentine Wolverine.

8 March

  • 1942-A Coast Guard aircraft located the lifeboats of SS Arubutan, which had been sunk by a German U-boat off the North Carolina coast, and directed CGC Calypso to them.
  • 1963-CGC Eastwind crossed sixty degrees south latitude north-bound after 126 days in the Antarctic Region as a part of Operation Deepfreeze 63, setting a new record for a single cruise in that area.
  • 1973-The first "Coast Guard-controlled drug seizure" took place when the cutter Dauntless seized the sport fishing vessel Big L which was smuggling an "illicit cargo" of one ton of marijuana.  
  • 2015-CGC Alert returned to its homeport of Astoria, Oregon, following a 61-day counter narcotics patrol off the coast of Central and South America. The crew of the 46-year old ship interdicted two suspected smuggling vessels stopping an estimated 2,300 pounds of cocaine worth approximately $28 million. On two separate occasions, the crew found sea turtles entangled in abandoned fishing gear. The crew’s efforts saved three turtles, allowing them to swim away unharmed. Coast Guardsmen aboard also improved their proficiency by conducting 94 safety and mission specific drills. These exercises included shipboard emergency response, navigation proficiency, and live-fire gunnery exercises.

9 March

  • 1928-On 9 March 1928 a pulling surfboat with nine men aboard, under the command of Boatswain's Mate First Class William Cashman, got underway from the Manomet Life-Saving to go to the rescue of the steamer Robert E. Lee.  The Lee had grounded on Mary Ann Rocks in a heavy gale.  While returning to the station the surfboat capsized due to extremely heavy seas, spilling all nine men into the water.  Six were rescued but "Captain" Cashman, Surfman Frank W. Griswold, and Surfman Edward R. Stark perished in the line of duty in the freezing water.  During the on-going search and rescue operations all 236 passengers and crew from the Robert E. Lee were saved.
  • 1944-The U-225 torpedoed and sank the Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort USS Leopold (DE-319) off Iceland.  The attack marked the introduction of a newly developed acoustic torpedo.  All 13 officers and 148 (out of 186) enlisted men on board were killed.  The 28 survivors were rescued by USS Joyce (DE-317), another Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort.
  • 1946-The Coast Guard-manned LST-767 was damaged in a hurricane near Okinawa.  She was later declared a total loss and was decommissioned.
  • 1966-CGC Point White, on duty with Coast Guard Squadron One, Division 13, in Vietnam, captured a Vietcong junk after a running firefight.  Point White was in Vietnam only a month when she started conducting patrols on a Viet-Cong-controlled area of the Soi Rap River.  Point White used a plan of steaming out of the patrol area and covertly returning.  On 9 March she spotted a junk crossing the river and attempted to stop it.  The junk opened fire with small arms, including automatic weapons.  Point White returned the fire and rammed the junk, throwing the occupants into the water. The cutter’s commanding officer, LTJG  Eugene J. Hickey, rescued a survivor who turned out to be a key VC leader of the Rung Sat Secret Zone.  During March, three WPBs of Division 13 killed twenty-seven VC in action, captured seven more, and confiscated considerable contraband.
  • 1996-The first "all-Coast Guard" Ceremonial Honor Guard carried out a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

10 March

  • 1909-The British barkentine Ladysmith, during a thick fog, stranded three miles WSW of the Fisher's Island Life-Saving Station.  The keeper was notified by telephone and the life-savers, in surfboat, proceeded to the scene.  They safely rescued the Ladysmith's master, his wife, and 9 seamen.
  • 1983-The Coast Guard retired the last operational HU-16E Albatross, ending the "era of seaplanes" for the service.
  • 2015-CGC Polar Star returned to Seattle after a 101-day Antarctic deployment.  Polar Star departed Seattle for Operation Deep Freeze 2015, the military resupply and logistical support mission for the U.S. Antarctic Program’s McMurdo Station. Polar Star escorted the cargo vessel Ocean Giant and fuel tanker Maersk Peary to McMurdo Station through ice ranging in thickness from 5 to 10 feet. Upon completion of Deep Freeze, Polar Star’s crew rescued 26 fishermen aboard the 207-foot F/V Antarctic Chieftain. The mariners were trapped in a heavy pack ice near Cape Burks, Antarctica, for almost two weeks. The crew diverted to provide assistance to the fishermen. After navigating across 753 miles with 89 miles of treacherous ice conditions, Polar Star’s crew located the Antarctic Chieftain and towed the fishing vessel through 49 miles of pack ice with before transferring the Antarctic Chieftain to the New Zealand fishing vessel Janas.

11 March

  • 1934-CGC Gresham's small boat crew defeated a team from the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Danae in a surfboat race over a two-mile course laid out in Mobile Bay.  Gresham and the City of Mobile had been hosting the British warship since 8 March 1934.
  • 1941-Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act.  Under the auspices of Lend-Lease all 10 of the Coast Guard's famous Lake-class cutters were transferred to the Royal Navy.  Three were lost in action against Axis forces.  These 250-foot cutters had been designed by the Coast Guard Constructor RADM Frederick A. Hunnewell and featured a slightly raked stem and a cruiser stern.  Their innovative turbine-electric drive power plant was developed by Coast Guard CAPT Quincy B. Newman.  These were the first ships to have alternating current, synchronous motor for propulsion--the whole ship ran off the main turbine.  The auxiliary generators were tied into the main generator electrically, after sufficient speed was attained.  At that point, no steam was required to drive the turbines on the auxiliary generators.  The propulsion plant achieved remarkable efficiency.
  • 2010-CGC Long Island returned to its homeport of Valdez, Alaska, after providing patrol support to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Long Island conducted patrols, boardings and professional exchanges with Navy cruisers, destroyers, multi-agency aircraft and other Coast Guard units such as high endurance cutters, patrol boats, Maritime Safety and Security Teams and the Maritime Security Response Team. The crew transited more than 2,500 miles roundtrip for the mission including underway maintenance and port calls to Washington state, Canada and Southeast Alaska. They conducted periodic law enforcement boardings to ensure vessels were in compliance of all U.S. laws and regulations to assist their Canadian counterparts. The Coast Guard was the lead for all U.S. maritime military naval forces supporting the 2010 Winter Olympics and had the dual responsibility of supporting Canadian Maritime operations while contributing to the larger Canadian government communications effort in promoting public confidence and security. Vancouver, British Columbia, hosted the 2010 Olympics from 12 to 28 February 2010.

12 March

  • 1955-Effective this date, all foreign and domestic ships were required to give 24-hour advance notice to the local U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port before entering U.S. ports.  This order was designed to improve the U.S. Coast Guard's port security program without "material inconvenience" to shipping.
  • 1965-This date marked the beginning of the U.S. Navy’s Operation Market Time.  The operation was designed to interdict the river and coastal water supply lines of Communist forces in South Vietnam.  The initiation of this campaign led to the Navy’s request for Coast Guard vessels and crews to participate in river and coastal patrols during the Vietnam War.
  • 2012-Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp participated in a ceremony at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, Louisiana, to dedicate the new Fast Response Cutter fleet.

13 March

  • 1882-At 7 P.M. the schooner Annie L. Palmer bound for New York from Baracoa, Cuba, with a cargo of fruit, and a crew of six persons, stranded about two hundred yards off-shore, one mile north of Station No. 16, Fourth District, New Jersey.  The patrolman reported it to the keeper.  The life-saving crew boarded the vessel by 8 o’clock and found that she had grounded at low water and could not be moved until the tide rose.  They ran an anchor to keep the vessel from working farther on, and waited for the flood tide.  At half past 2 the next morning the tide rose and they succeeded in heaving the vessel off.  They then took her to a safe anchorage.
  • 1974-A 200-foot fishing vessel requested evacuation of a crewman, who had severe headaches from a head injury.  The vessel was directed to proceed to the vicinity of Boston Light Vessel where upon arrival a motor lifeboat from Coast Guard Station Point Allerton evacuated the patient to Coast Guard Base Boston.  A waiting ambulance transported the patient to Brighton Hospital.
  • 2000-The Coast Guard announced the successful completion of Operation New FrontierNew Frontier was an evaluation of the use of armed helicopters and high-speed small boats to stop small, high-speed smuggling vessels, referred to as "go-fasts," that smuggled narcotics to the U.S.  Of the six go-fasts detected, all six were captured.  CGCs Gallatin and Seneca took part in the evaluations.

14 March

  • 1819-The 23 March 1819 edition of the New York Evening Post reported: "The Artegan Privateer GENERAL ARTIGAS was yesterday brought into this port.  The ARTIGAS sailed from Baltimore about 5 months ago, commanded by Captain Ford, with a complement of 60 men and 10 guns.  They took no prizes, though they boarded a number of Portuguese vessels but permitted them to proceed unmolested.  She touched at St. Domingo, there parted her cable in a gale, then proceeded on her cruise.  She sprung  a leak and then put into the Chesapeake, the crew then mutinied and nearly the whole of them left the vessel and went on shore.  She was taken possession of by the Cutter MONROE, March 14, 1819." 
  • 1909-At Gloucester, Massachusetts, a launch became disabled 3/4-mile southeast of the life-saving station. Surfmen manned the power lifeboat and started to assist.  On the trip out a schooner was discovered anchored in a dangerous berth 1-3/4 miles southeast of the station.  Surfmen put a towline on the schooner, and, with her sails drawing, she was towed into a safe anchorage.
  • 1967-CGC Point Ellis destroyed an enemy trawler in Vietnam.
  • 1987-Coast Guard helicopters rescued the crew of the sinking Soviet freighter Komsomolets Kirgizii  220 miles off the coast of New Jersey during a gale.  A HC-130 was first on the scene and stood by the listing freighter until HH-3s from Air Station Cape Cod arrived and saved the freighter's entire 37-person crew.  As a result of their efforts, President Ronald Reagan presented the Coast Guardsmen with awards at a ceremony at the White House.

15 March

  • 1942-The 172-foot tender CGC Acacia was en route from Curacao, Netherlands West Indies to Antigua, British West Indies, when she was sunk by shellfire from the German submarine U-161.  The entire crew of Acacia was rescued.  She was the only Coast Guard buoy tender sunk by enemy action during the war. 
  • 1944-Coast Guardsmen participated in the invasions of Manus in the Admiralties and Emirau (St. Mathias Islands).
  • 1946-For the first time, Coast Guard aircraft supplemented the work of the Coast Guard patrol vessels of the International Ice Patrol, scouting for ice and determining the limits of the ice fields from the air.
  • 1983-The Coast Guard retired its last HC-131A Samaritan
  • 1991-F/V Alaskan Monarch became trapped in the ice-encrusted Bering Sea near St. Paul, Alaska and was in danger of being swept onto the breakwater rocks outside St. Paul Harbor.  CGC Storis and an HH-3 from AIRSTA Kodiak, under the command of LT Laura H. Guth, responded.  After a flight of 600 miles, including a winter crossing of the Alaska Peninsula and 400 miles of open water, Guth and her crew rescued four of the six-man crew before waves crashed over the vessel and swept the two remaining crewmen into the frigid water.  They both were quickly pulled from the water safely.
  • 1997-Operation Gulf Shield began. This operation was a counterpart to the counter-narcotics Operation Frontier Shield.

16 March

  • 1909-At Assateague Beach, Virginia, the schooner Charley C. Weaver began taking on water.  One of the crew notified the keeper that the schooner was leaking. The life-saving station's surfboat proceeded to the scene, 1-5/8 miles south of the station.  The schooner’s crew was nearly exhausted from a long spell at the pump.  Surfmen shifted her cargo of oysters.  They also tried to locate the leak, but were unsuccessful. They then went ashore and returned with the power lifeboat which towed the schooner safely over the bar.

17 March

  • 1863-Revenue cutter Agassiz helped defend the Union-held Fort Anderson at New Bern, North Carolina, from a Confederate attack.
  • 1902-All but one of the members of the crew of the Monomoy Life-Saving Station perished during the attempted rescue of the crew of the wrecked coal barge Wadena during a terrible winter gale.  The dead included the keeper of the station, Marshall N. Eldridge, and six of his surfmen.  Eldridge told his crew before they departed on the rescue that: "We must go, there is a distress flag in the rigging."  The crew of five from the barge also perished.  The sole survivor, Seth L. Ellis, was the number one surfman of the Monomoy station.  He was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal as was the man who rescued him, Captain Elmer Mayo of the barge Fitzpatrick.   
  • 1941-CGC Cayuga left Boston with the South Greenland Survey Expedition on board to locate airfields, seaplane bases, radio and meteorological stations, and aids to navigation in Greenland.  This was the beginning of the Coast Guard's preeminent role in Greenland during World War II.
  • 1962-After requesting the evacuation of a seriously injured crewman, the Russian merchant vessel Dbitelny transferred the patient to the Coast Guard LORAN station on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea.  Meanwhile, a Coast Guard aircraft flew a U.S. Navy doctor and a hospital corpsman there to perform an emergency operation.  Afterwards, the injured man was flown to Elmendorf Air Force Base, where he was admitted to the U.S. Air Force hospital.
  • 1982- Navy Secretary John Lehman testified before Congress on behalf of the Coast Guard.   He characterized the relationship between the Navy and the Coast Guard as being "close and warm."  He also praised the new NAVGARD Board, created in November 1980, to formalize the relationship between the two services.
  • 2015-Following a 61-day deployment on the Hudson River, CGC Thunder Bay returned to its homeport of Rockland, Maine after conducting icebreaking operations in support of Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters. Thunder Bay deployed mid-January 2015 to coordinate daily ice breaking operations with CGCs Sturgeon Bay, Willow, Elm, and Wire on the Hudson River. In order to keep the channel open to commercial shipping traffic, Thunder Bay conducted operations seven days a week, with only occasional days off. The cutter navigated more than 100 river miles daily and by the end of the season Thunder Bay had sailed nearly 3000 nautical miles, conducted 554 hours of icebreaking, and made 70 vessel and facility break outs, requiring them to operate an additional 13 days beyond their original assignment.

18 March

  • 1909-Stations Holly Beach, and Hereford Inlet, New Jersey: the schooner C.B. parted its chain while weighing anchor.  She set a distress signal which was discovered by the lookouts at both stations.  The surfboats proceeded to the scene and surfmen swept for the chain and assisted in securing it on board.
  • 1943-CGC Ingham rescued all hands from the torpedoed SS Matthew Luckenbach.
  • 1967-The 378-foot high endurance cutter Hamilton, first in her class, was commissioned.  This was the first class of major vessels in the U.S. government's inventory that were powered by jet turbines.
  • 1991-CGC Cape Hatteras (WPB 95305) was decommissioned on 18 March 1991.  She was the last 95-foot patrol boat in the Coast Guard.  She was then transferred to Mexico.

  • 1996-The single-hulled barge San Gabriel buckled and split open in rough seas, rupturing two tanks and spilling 210,000 gallons of oil in the Houston Ship Channel near Galveston, Texas.  Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Galveston established a joint command structure with local agencies and private contractors to isolate and then clean up the spill.  Personnel from the Gulf Strike Team, MSO Houston, MSO New Orleans, Aviation Training Center Mobile, and the 8th District supplemented MSU Galveston.  The majority of the spill was cleaned up in three days.

  • 2000-CGC Thetis seized F/V Viviana II which was grossly overloaded with 234 Ecuadorean migrants.  The vessel and the migrants were turned over to the Ecuadorean Navy.
  • 2007- The Coast Guard made the largest cocaine seizure in its history to date when CGCs Hamilton and Sherman seized 42,845 pound of cocaine aboard the Panamanian-flagged M/V Gatun off the coast of Panama.  Gatun was first located by a HC-130 on 17 March. 

19 March

  • 1943-British Steamer Svend Foyne was a victim of an iceberg collision off the southern tip of Greenland.  One hundred forty-five persons were rescued by the Coast Guard and others.  The International Ice Patrol was suspended during this period (1942-1945) of World War II.
  • 1945-The first all-Coast Guard hunter-killer group ever established during the war searched for a reported German U-boat near Sable Island.  The group was made up of  the Coast Guard-manned destroyer escorts USS Lowe, Menges, Mosley, and Pride, and was under the overall command of CDR R. H. French, USCG.  He flew his pennant from Pride.  Off Sable Island the warships located, attacked and sank the U-866 with the loss of all hands.  Interestingly, the Menges had been a victim of a German acoustic torpedo during escort-of-convoy operations in the Mediterranean in 1944.  The torpedo had detonated directly under her stern, causing major damage and casualties, but she remained afloat.  She was later towed to port and the stern of another destroyer escort, one that had been damaged well forward, was welded onto the Menges.  She then returned to action.
  • 1963-The famous cutter Bear sank off the coast of Nova Scotia on this date in 1963 while under tow from Halifax to Philadelphia were she as slated to be "put out to pasture" as a floating museum-restaurant.  The two men who were aboard the old cutter were rescued after a Coast Guard aircraft dropped a raft to the accompanying tug.
  • 1989-M/V Aoyagi Maru ran aground on a reef in Lost Harbor, Alaska.  She was declared a total loss after being gutted by fire when 1,200 pounds of explosives were ignited to burn off the 100,000 gallons of fuel left aboard and her cargo of 74,000 pounds of rotting cod.

20 March

  • 1929-The most notable incident from which international complications resulted during the Prohibition era was that of the schooner I’m Alone of Nova Scotia, a vessel built for the rum trade. She had successfully plied this trade for over four years when she appeared off the Texas coast and was picketed by the cutter Wolcott in the spring of 1929. Boatswain Frank Paul marked her at 10.8 miles from shore and signaled her to heave to. Several blanks were fired and this brought the vessel to a stop.  Captain Randall of the schooner allowed the Boatswain on board, there was a discussion, but when he returned, I’m Alone continued on her way. The chase resumed and shots were fired into her rigging. On the second morning, some two hundred miles south of the U.S., the cutter Dexter came up to assist and proceeded to fire into the runner, sinking the vessel. One of her crew was drowned.  Repercussions were heard immediately from Canada, Britain, and France, as the drowned seaman was French. The initial complaint was that of the position of the schooner at the point of contact. Her captain maintained she was only a 7-knot vessel and she was anchored about 15 miles out in safe waters. The second infraction was that the pursuit was not a continuous one, the intervention of Dexter muddied this question.  Since the speed of the suspect vessel is a consideration in determining how far out it might be seized, it should be noted that I’m Alone managed to stay ahead of Wolcott, a nearly new cutter capable of at least 11 knots, for over 24 hours. As I’m Alone was sunk, the captain’s statement that her engines were in need of repair also could not be proven. In any case, the international round of diplomatic niceties did not cease until 1935 when the United States backed off and compensation was paid to the crew of the schooner.
  • 1941-Sabotage was discovered on an Italian vessel at Wilmington, North Carolina.  The Coast Guard investigated all Italian and German vessels in American ports and took into "protective custody" 28 Italian vessels, two German and 35 Danish vessels.   Coast Guard boarding teams discovered that their crews had damaged 27 of the Italian ships and one of the German ships.  The Coast Guard also took into custody a total of 850 Italian and 63 German officers and crew.  Two months later these vessels were requisitioned for service with the United States by order of Congress for the Latin American trade.

21 March

  • 1791-Hopley Yeaton of New Hampshire was commissioned as "Master of a Cutter in the Service of the United States for the Protection of the Revenue."  He is often listed as the first commissioned seagoing officer of the United States. His commission was signed by George Washington and attested to by Thomas Jefferson.  However, seven other commissions for officers of the Revenue Cutter Service were signed on the same date. Yeaton’s claim to being first is tied to the fact that he is at the top of the list of officers. He commanded the Revenue cutter Scammel, stationed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and the list is based on the cutters’ homeports from north to south. Thus, Yeaton was first on the list, having command of the cutter in the northernmost port.
  • 1916-On this date Third Lieutenant Elmer Stone, USCG became the first Coast Guard officer ordered to flight training.  He reported on 1 April 1916 to Pensacola Naval Aviation Training School.
  • 2013-CGC Midgett, returned to its homeport of Seattle, Washington, after its 75-day counter-narcotics patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean. While on patrol in the eastern Pacific in late February, the crew successfully interdicted a 30-foot fishing vessel that was carrying 1,100 pounds of cocaine hidden inside the vessel. Midgett’s boarding team confiscated the drugs, and detained the suspected smugglers. Midgett’s crew also visited Bahia Malaga, Colombia, for a partnership exercise with the Colombian Navy. The ship hosted the Colombian Navy's chief of staff, pacific operations commander, and several other senior personnel for a tour of the ship. After departing Seattle in early January, 2013, Midgett and its 170-member crew first underwent a three-week drill in San Diego that included more than 300 training exercises in navigation, medical response, damage control, engineering, combat systems, seamanship and anti-terrorism force protection. The crew's successful performance earned them several battle readiness awards as well as certification by shipboard training teams.
  • 2014-CGC Polar Star returned to its homeport of Seattle, Washington, following a 108-day deployment in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2014. Polar Star originally departed Seattle on 3 December 2013 and made port calls in Honolulu, Sydney, Australia, McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and Tahiti, French Polynesia.  Having completed a reactivation that began four years ago, this deployment marked the first time in six years that a U.S. icebreaker provided support to Operation Deep Freeze. In January, 2014, Polar Star departed Sydney to assist in the rescue effort of two ships, the Russian vessel Akademik Shokalsiky and the Chinese vessel Xue Lon.  Both of these vessels were beset in 15 feet of sea ice near Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica. While Polar Star was en route to assist, the shifting ice conditions allowed the two ships to break free from the ice prior to the Coast Guard icebreaker's arrival. In Antarctica, Polar Star broke a navigable shipping lane through 12 miles of ice in McMurdo Sound, encountering ice up to 10 feet in thickness. The shipping channel was used by the tanker ship Maersk Peary to deliver approximately three-and-a-half million gallons of fuel to McMurdo. The channel was also used by the cargo ship Maersk Illinois to deliver more than 500 containers of supplies to operate McMurdo and South Pole stations for the next 12 months. The crew of the Polar Star also delivered and deployed nearly one mile of fuel hose to Marble Point, an air station 20 miles west of McMurdo. In February, 2014, prior to departing Antarctica, Polar Star hosted Coast Guard VADM Peter Neffenger, then-Deputy Commandant for Operations, who visited Antarctica to observe the operations of the U.S. Antarctic Program.

22 March

  • 1794-Congress declared that no American citizen may carry slaves from the United States to another nation or between foreign nations.
  • 1917-Third Lieutenant Elmer Stone, USCG, graduated from Pensacola Naval Aviation Training School, thereby becoming the service's first aviator.  Third Lieutenant Stone was designated as Naval Aviator #38 and later Coast Guard Aviator #1.
  • 1919-The Acting Secretary of the Treasury advised that light keepers and the officers and crews of vessels were not entitled to the benefits of the Public Health Service free of charge after retirement.
  • 1969-ENC Morris S. Beeson, on CGC Point Orient, was killed in action during a boarding in Vietnam.
  • 2003-Three Iraqi sailors were captured in the northern Persian Gulf, the first Enemy Prisoners of War (EPOWs) taken by Coast Guard forces deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The 24-member crew of CGC Adak plucked the Iraqi sailors from the sea after they had jumped overboard when their patrol boat was destroyed by coalition forces.  The EPOWs were taken aboard Adak and later transferred to an undisclosed location.

23 March

  • 1974-The 40-foot sailing vessel Lorisel II reported she was aground one mile southeast of North Rock, Bahamas, off the eastern shore of Bimini.  An HU-16 aircraft and CGC Cape Shoalwater were dispatched to assist.  The aircraft located the vessel and a local island boat was diverted to remove two women and a child from Lorisel IICape Shoalwater re-floated the vessel, returned the passengers, and the Lorisel II got underway with no apparent damage.
  • 2001-Two Coast Guardsmen, BM2 Scott Chism and SN Christopher Ferreby, gave their lives in the line of duty when their small boat CG-214341 capsized on Lake Ontario.  Their loss led to important changes in the small boat community's training, equipment and operations.
  • 2008-Two Coast Guard helicopters worked with the F/V Alaska Warrior to save 42 of 47 crewmen from the sinking F/V Alaska Ranger in an Easter Sunday blizzard amidst 20-foot waves. There was flooding in aft steerage of Ranger and the doors would not close. The ship’s shell was rusty and flat-bottomed, built for Gulf of Mexico. It was located 120 miles west of Dutch Harbor in the Bering Sea. CGC Munro's HH-65 Dolphin pulled five fishermen from the water, three of whom had to be cut free from the netting and ropes.  The HH-60 Jayhawk from St. Paul Station in the Pribiloff Islands lifted 15 sailors out of the sea and onto the sister ship, F/V Alaska WarriorWarrior also  saved 22 lives on its own.  The crew of Munro received the Coast Guard Unit Commendation and aviators LT Brian J. McLaughlin, LT Timothy L. Schmitz, LT Steven M. Bonn, LT Greg S. Gedemer, Petty Officer 2nd Class O'Brien Hollow, Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert R. DeBolt and Petty Officer 2nd Class Alfred V. Musgrave received Air Medals.
  • 2012-The 9th Coast Guard District concluded Operation Taconite, its annual ice-breaking operation in the western Great Lakes, thereby officially bringing the 2011-2012 icebreaking season to a close. Under control of Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Operation Taconite was carried out in Lake Superior, the St. Mary’s River, the Straits of Mackinac, and northern Lake Huron. Operation Taconite began 21 December 2011. Working together during this year's ice-breaking season were crews aboard: U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Mackinaw; Alder; Hollyhock; Mobile Bay; Neah Bay; Katmai Bay; Biscayne Bay; and Thunder Bay, the latter being temporarily assigned to the Great Lakes from its homeport of Rockland, Maine. Together these eight cutters spent 1,668 hours breaking ice and assisted more than 60 vessels.

24 March

  • 1909-Muskeget, Massachusetts: the schooner Vigilant parted moorings, and stranded one mile south of the station. The owner applied to the keeper at 10:30 p.m. for assistance.  Surfmen proceeded to the scene, carried out an anchor and line, and hove the schooner into deep water.  During the storm the owner was sheltered and supplied with meals at the station for two days.  But for the security afforded by an additional anchor and cable loaned by the crew, Vigilant would have stranded a second time.
  • 1920-The Coast Guard established its first air station on this date at Morehead City, North Carolina.  The station was closed on 1 July 1921 due to a lack of funding.
  • 1989-The tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling 10.1 million gallons of crude oil.  This was the worst oil spill in U.S. history to date.  Coast Guard units responded and prevented the entire cargo from spilling, cleaned up the oil which did spill, and conducted an investigation into the causes of the accident.  The spill provided the impetus for the passage of the Oil Protection Act of 1990, which greatly increased the Coast Guard's role in protecting the nation against spills.

25 March

  • 1911-The Treasury Department directed the keepers of life-saving stations to keep a lookout through the beach patrol for stray buoys washed ashore, to secure such buoys when it could be done, and to report their discovery or action to the nearest representative of the Lighthouse Service.

26 March

  • 1938-On 26 March 1938 the US Coast Guard motor lifeboat Triumph departed from the Point Adams Station, located near Hammond, Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia River.  It proceeded out to the bar and stood by while several crab boats crossed in.  The tug Tyee with a barge load of logs in tow was attempting to cross out.  Tyee passed too close to the life buoy and the barge drifted into the outer break on Clatsop Spit.  Triumph, while attempting to assist Tyee, lost Surfman Richard O. Bracken overboard in the breakers of Clatsop Spit.  Bracken would have been drowned had it not been for the skill of BN (L) John F. McCormick, Officer-in-Charge of Triumph, and the cooperation of the crew, namely CMOMM (L) Albert L. Olsen and Surfman Harold W. Lawrence.  In making the rescue, Triumph was carried broadside on the face of a wave a distance of approximately 50 yards.  The masts had been completely submerged, then the boat righted itself.  Bracken had been washed overboard by the force of the sea.  McCormick, acting with exceptional skill, maneuvered Triumph against the strong current, into the breakers and picked up the drowning man.  Olsen remained in the engine room during all these maneuvers, stayed at the controls under perilous conditions, and rendered commendable service.  McCormick was awarded a Gold Life-Saving Medal for this rescue while Olsen and Lawrence were awarded Silver Lifesaving Medals.

  • 1945-Coast Guardsmen participated in the landings at Geruma Shima, Hokaji Shima, and Takashiki in the Ryukyu Islands.
  • 1946-The International Ice Patrol resumed after being suspended during World War II.
  • 1963-A Coast Guard HH-52 based from Air Station Salem, Massachusetts, landed in the water off Fort Weatherall, Newport, Rhode Island to rescue a man overboard from the radar picket ship USS Protector.  "Using the new platform, the crew of the HH-52A retrieved the man, helpless and incoherent, from 39-[degree] F waters.  He was flown to the Naval Hospital, Quonset Point without incident.  This is the first rescue fully exploiting the unique capabilities of the new HH-52A helicopter."

27 March

  • 1943-CG-85006 (ex-Catamount) exploded off Ambrose Light while on Coastal Picket patrol duty.  Of a total of ten crew members on board, four drowned while five were reported missing.  Only the commanding officer, CBM Garfield L. Beal, USCG, escaped.  He was picked up six hours later by a passing merchant ship.  The cause of the explosion was never ascertained.
  • 1964-An earthquake which hit 9.2 on the Richter scale and an ensuing tsunami struck Alaska, killing 125 people and causing $311 million in property damage.  Coast Guard units responded in what was called "Operation Helping Hand."  Within two hours of the earthquake, which began at 1732 local time, CGCs Storis, Minnetonka, and Sorrel were ordered to Prince William Sound; Bittersweet to Seward; and Sedge to Valdez.  "The following morning, three fixed-wing aircraft from Air Detachment Kodiak surveyed the damage while helicopters evacuated those in need.   By March 31, most of the direct assistance had been rendered and the task of repair and clean up began.  Approximately 360 civilians were evacuated from villages and isolated areas in Kodiak Island and Prince William Sound.  Storis was diverted to Cook Inlet for icebreaking duties in the Port of Anchorage until 18 April." [Kenneth Arbogast, et al, The U.S. Coast Guard in Kodiak, Alaska, p. 15.]  A number of the Coast Guard stations in the area sustained damage, some of it severe.  The only Coast Guard fatality occurred when the tsunami struck the light station at Cape St. Elias and one crewman, EN3 Frank O. Reed, was swept out to sea and perished.
  • 2003-During Operation Iraqi Freedom CGC Wrangell, homeported in Portland, Maine, along with a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Honolulu, escorted the first waterborne humanitarian aid shipment into the port of Umm Qasr without incident, while members of Coast Guard Port Security Unit 311, from San Pedro, Calif., assisted other coalition forces protecting the harbor.  The shipment, consisting of vital aid donated by numerous countries, was carried aboard the British ship RFA Sir Galahad.

28 March

  • 1963-Three new 44-foot Motor Lifeboats departed the Coast Guard Yard for their designated stations.  Two were assigned to stations in the Third Coast Guard District: Sandy Hook Lifeboat Station and Eatons Neck Lifeboat station while the third was assigned to Chatham Lifeboat Station in the First Coast Guard District.
  • 1968-The Secretary of Transportation released his Report on Recreational Boat Safety. The report contained a detailed explanation of the proposed legislation and the programs the department intended to undertake.
  • 1993-A Colonial Pipeline Company pipe ruptured, spilling 400,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the Sugarland Run creek in Herndon, Virginia.  The EPA requested the assistance from the National Strike Force.  Other units mobilized for the clean-up operation included a helicopter from AIRSTA Cape May, an air-eye HU-25 from AIRSTA Cape Cod, personnel from MSO Baltimore, CGC Capstan, and reservists from the region.  The strike team used the new DESMI 250 skimmer and pump to control the spill.  Coast Guardsmen assisted with the cleanup and safety operations as well as provided technical assistance.  By 2 April, Colonial Pipeline, who claimed responsibility for the spill, had more than 250 contract personnel handling cleanup operations.  The strike teams stayed on site to monitor the cleanup.  The last strike team member left the spill site on 10 April.

29 March

  • 1867-The lighthouse at Timbalier Bay was destroyed in a hurricane.  The brick tower "was leveled to the ground and covered with from three to six feet of water."  The Lighthouse Board commended the keepers, "who faithfully performed their duty, barely escaping with their lives, and living for some days in an iron can buoy . . ."
  • 1898- Lieutenants David Jarvis and Ellsworth P. Bertholf and Surgeon Dr. Samuel J. Call of the Revenue cutter Bear reached Point Barrow, Alaska, after a 2,000 mile "mush" from Nunivak Island that first started on 17 December 1897, driving reindeer as food for 97 starving whalers caught in the Arctic ice.  This Overland Rescue was heralded by the press and at the request of President William McKinley, Congress issued special gold medals in their honor.
  • 1938-By an Executive Order of this date President Franklin Roosevelt enlarged substantially the number of "personnel in the Lighthouse Service who are subject to the principle of the civil service," which allowed advancement in the Service based solely on individual merit.
  • 1984-Coast Guard AIRSTA Cape May and Group Cape May responded to severe flooding in southern New Jersey and Delaware after a late winter storm struck the area on 29 March 1984.  Coast Guardsmen evacuated 149 civilians from Cape May and Atlantic City.
  • 1985-The last lightship in service with the Coast Guard, CGC Nantucket I, was decommissioned, thus ending 164 years of continuous lightship service by the U.S. Government.  Nantucket I was the last of the U.S. lightships and the last of the Nantucket Shoals lightships that watched over that specific area since June of 1854.  Launched as WLV-612 in 1950 at Baltimore, the ship also stood watch as the light vessel for San Francisco and Blunts Reef in California, at Portland, Oregon, and finally at Nantucket Shoals.  Nantucket I also spent time in service as a "less-than-speedy" law enforcement vessel off Florida.
  • 2005-The keel was laid for the first of the new 418-foot National Security Cutters, CGC Bertholf (WMSL-750), named for Commodore Ellsworth Bertholf, former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.  Bertholf was constructed at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Mississippi.  The cutter was christened on 11 November 2006 after being launched on 29 September 2006.  The Coast Guard commissioned Bertholf on 4 August 2008.

30 March

  • 1867-The United States signed the Alaska purchase treaty with Russia.
  • 1942-By Presidential proclamation, the Coast Guard was designated as a service of the Navy to be administered by the Commandant of Coast Guard under the direction of the Secretary of the Navy, similar to the administration of the Marine Corps.

31 March

  • 1932-The United States signed a Whaling Convention at Geneva with 21 other countries.
  • 1934-At high noon on 15 March 1934 CGC Tuscarora fired a shot from one of its batteries, a shot that started the fifth international St. Petersburg to Havana racing classic.  Tuscarora served as the official Coast Guard escort for the race.
  • 1948-The Tenth District, with headquarters at San Juan, Puerto Rico and comprising of the Panama Canal Zone, all of the island possessions of the United States pertaining to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and all United States reservations in the islands of the West Indies and on the north coast of South America, was abolished, and its functions, responsibilities, and facilities were transferred to and combined with the Seventh District, with headquarters at Miami, Florida.
  • 1995-Coast Guard Communication Area Master Station Atlantic sent a final message by Morse Code and then signed off, officially ending more than 100 years of telegraph communication.
  • 2008-On 31 March 31 2008, the U.S. Coast Guard took delivery of its first Response Boat–Medium (RB-M) from Marinette Marine Corporation Following completion of underway trials on 17 March 2008 near Tacoma, Washington, RB-M 45601 was trailered cross-country for delivery in Portsmouth, Virginia. After one week of familiarization for the Coast Guard Transition Team (responsible for facilitating the introduction of the planned 180 boats to the fleet) Station Little Creek, Virginia took delivery of RB-M 45601 on 7 April 2008. The RB-M acquisition was initiated to replace the aging 41’ Utility Boats and other Non-Standard Boats. The RB-M is a self-righting, 45-foot all-aluminum boat with twin diesel engines and water jet propulsion.

Last Modified 3/2/2016