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Mariposa, 1944

WAGL-397; WLB-397

Call Sign: NODP

Nickname: "Mary P"

Mariposa (genus Calochortus) is a tulip-like perennial plant of the lily family (Liliaceae) native to western North America

Builder: Zenith Dredge Corporation, Duluth, MN

Builder's Number: bn CG-174

Cost:  $926,446

Length:  180' oa

Beam: 37' mb

Draft:  12' max (1945); 14' 7" (1966)

Displacement: 935 fl (1945); 1,026 fl (1966); 700 light (1966)

Keel Laid: 25 October 1943

Launched: 14 January 1944

Commissioned: 1 July 1944

Decommissioned: 17 March 2000

Status: 17 April 2000, transferred to the US Navy as training hulk

Propulsion:  1 electric motor connected to 2 Westinghouse generators driven by 2 Cooper-Bessemer-type GND-8, 4-cycle diesels; single screw

Top speed: 13.0 kts sustained (1945); 11.9 kts sustained (1966) 

Economic speed: 8.3 kts (1945); 8.5 kts (1966)

Complement: 6 Officers, 74 men (1945); 4 officers, 2 warrants, 47 men (1966)

    Radar: SL1 (1945)
    Sonar: QBE-3A (1945)

Armament: 1-3"/50 (single), 2-20mm/80 (single), 2 depth charge tracks, 2 Mousetraps, 4 Y-guns (1945); None (1966)

Class History:

When the US Coast Guard absorbed the Bureau of Lighthouses on 1 July 1939, Juniper, a 177-foot all welded steel buoy tender, was under construction and plans for a successor were on the drawing board. Plans initiated by the Bureau of Lighthouses called for the construction of several identical buoy tenders to replace existing coastal buoy tenders. The preliminary designs generated by the Bureau were for a vessel similar to Juniper. When the Aids to Navigation (ATON) system transferred to Coast Guard control, USCG planners reviewed the preliminary plans for the new class of buoy tenders and modified them to meet the service’s multi-mission role. To be an effective part of the Coast Guard, the new buoy tenders needed to be multi-purpose platforms. They had to be capable of conducting Search and Rescue (SAR) and Law Enforcement (LE) missions, as well as their primary mission tending ATON. On 20 January 1941 the US Coast Guard contracted Marine Iron and Shipbuilding Company of Duluth , Minnesota to build the design based on Juniper and modified to meet the service’s requirements. On 31 March 1941 Marine Iron and Shipbuilding laid the keel for the first vessel of the new buoy tender class. The new vessel measured 180 feet overall and had a beam of 37 feet at the extreme. She had a displacement of 935 tons and drew 12 feet. The new design was similar to Juniper in appearance but did exhibit some important differences. Gone was the turtle back forecastle. A notched forefoot, ice-belt at the waterline, and reinforced bow gave the vessel icebreaking capabilities. Extending the superstructure to the ship’s sides increased interior volume above the main deck. A single propeller, turned by an electric motor powered by twin diesel generators, replaced the twin-screw arrangement. The 30,000-gallon fuel capacity gave the new design a range of 12,000 miles at a 12-knot cruising speed; at 8.3 knots the cruising range increased to 17,000 miles. Finer lines at the bow and stern increased the new tender’s sea keeping ability in rough weather; an increase in draft also promoted seaworthiness. Numerous minor alterations increased the vessel’s utility as a SAR platform while deck-mounted guns and depth charge racks supported military duties. Marine Iron and Shipbuilding launched the prototype vessel on 25 November 1941, even as three more took shape. Preparations also went forward to begin a fifth vessel. By the time they commissioned the first 180, Cactus, on 1 September 1942 twelve vessels were under construction at the Marine Iron shipyard and at the Zenith Dredge Company shipyard, also in Duluth . The initial designation for the new buoy tenders was WAGL, which was a US Navy designation denoting an auxiliary vessel, lighthouse tender. The designation changed from WAGL to WLB in 1965. A few of the 180s have been designated as other types of vessels over the years; three became WMECs (medium endurance cutters), one of those, Evergreen, was a WAGO (oceanographic research vessel) before it became a WMEC. Gentian was a WMEC for a time and was then designated a WIX (Training Cutter) in 1999. Though designations have changed over time, each vessel’s hull number has remained the same since commissioning.

Cutter History:

World War II

USCGC Mariposa was assigned to the 3rd  Coast Guard District and homeported at St. George's, Staten Island, NY  and used for general ATON duties during 1944 and 1945.


At the war's end in September 1945 Mariposa continued to be used for ATON while stationed at St. George's, Staten Island, NY until 15 June 1954. In October 1946 Mariposa broke ice near Albany, NY and assisted the FV Rainbow; On 28 May 1950 Mariposa assisted and towed LV-533 (Ambrose. On 23 June 1953 the cutter assisted the tug Sheridan in Long Island Sound. From 15 June 1954 to 11 April 1973 Mariposa was stationed at New London, CT and used for ATON and light icebreaking. On 8 September 1954 Mariposa assisted the FV Major Casey off Shelter Island. On 12 May 1955 the tender assisted the yacht Whiteson 58 mi ENE of the Winter Quarter lightship station. On 20 August 1955 Mariposa aided with flood relief on the Housatonic River. On 30 July 1959 Mariposa provided assistance following the collision between MV Francisville and MV Luckenback. During 7-9 January 1962 Mariposa assisted MV Leij Viking aground off Watch Hill Point and on 15 February 1965 the cutter assisted in recovery of bodies and debris from Eastern DC-7 crash off Long Island. During 1973-1974 Mariposa underwent a major overhaul at the Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay, MD. From 23 October 1974-1990 Mariposa was stationed at Detroit, MI, and used for ATON. In October 1981 Mariposa's crew helped restore the Ashtabula (OH) Harbor Lighthouse. In 1990 Mariposa underwent another major renovation and from June 1991 until her decommissioning the cutter was stationed and Seattle and used for general ATON.

Photo of USCGC Mariposa's Keel-laying-25 October 1943

USCGC Mariposa keel laying- 25 October 1943

Photo of Mariposa's Christening

USCGC Mariposa's christening by Mrs. T.E. McCready - 14 January 1944

Photo of USCGC Mariposa's Launching on 14 January 1944

USCGC Mariposa's launching- 14 January 1944

Photo of USCGC Mariposa after removal of armament in 1946

USCGC Mariposa after removal of armament- 11 February 1946

Photo of USCGC Mariposa underway in the 1950s

USCGC Mariposa- no date

Photo of USCGC Mariposa breaking ice on the Hudson River near Saugerties, NY-

USCGC Mariposa- no date

Photo of USCGC Mariposa underway on 4 May 1971

USCGC Mariposa- no date


Photo of USCGC Mariposa breaking ice in the St. Clair River preceded by Yankcannuck, Griffon, and USCGC Bramble- 1976

USCGC Mariposa breaking ice in the St. Clair River preceded by Yankcannuck, Griffon, and USCGC Bramble- 1976

Color Photo of USCGC Mariposa- no date

USCGC Mariposa- no date

Another color photo of USCGC Mariposa- no date

USCGC Mariposa- no date


Cutter File, Coast Guard Historian's Office.

HABS/HAER, National Park Service, US Department of the Interior. US Coast Guard 180-Foot Buoy Tenders. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2003.

Robert Scheina.  Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II.  Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1981.

Robert Scheina.  Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946-1990.  Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1990.

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Last Modified 1/12/2016