The cutter Tallapoosa was named for a river in Georgia.
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding
Launched: 1 May 1915
Commissioned: 12 August 1915
Decommissioned: 8 November 1945
Disposition: Sold; 22 July 1946
Displacement (tons): 912
Length: 165' 10" overall
Draft: 11' 9"
Machinery: Triple-expansion steam, 17", 27", and 44" diameter x 30" stroke, 2 x Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 1,000 shp; 12 knots maximum
Armament: 4 x 6-pounders (1915); 2 x 6-pdrs; 2 x 3" 50-cal (single-mounts) (as of 1930); 2 x 3"/50 (single-mounts); 1 x 3"/23; 2 x depth charge tracks (as of 1941); 2 x 3"/50 (single-mounts); 2 x 20mm/80 (single-mounts); 2 x Mousetraps; 4 x K-guns; 2 x depth charge tracks (as of 1945).
Complement 9 officers, 63 enlisted
The Tallapoosa-Class cutters, the Tallapoosa and Ossipee, were designed for long cruises. Their hulls were reinforced for light ice-breaking. During World War II, the Ossipee was actually classified as a "river gunboat" while the Tallapoosa was classified as a "patrol gunboat."
The cutter Tallapoosa was designed to replace the cutter Winona and was stationed at Mobile, AL, with cruising grounds to Lake Pontchartrain, LA and Fowey Rocks, FL. Tallapoosa was assigned to her first homeport at Mobile, AL on 17 August 1915. During this period she made search and rescue patrols between Port Eads, LA and Tampa, FL. On 18 November 1915 she transported the National Currency Association of Alabama on a tour and inspection of the harbor of Mobile.
On 19 January 1916 she participated in the celebration of the completion of the Gulf, Florida and Alabama Railroad held at Pensacola, FL. On 6-7 March 1916 and on 19-20 February 1917, she participated in the Mardi Gras celebration at Mobile, AL.
From 6 April 1917 until 28 August 1919, the Coast Guard was temporarily under the Navy Department. During this period Tallapoosa was sent on temporary special duty to Halifax, Nova Scotia to participate in search and rescue work in the icy waters. At one tine the cutter was nearly destroyed while rescuing a group of stranded fishermen at Jobs Room, a small village in Forteau Harbor, Labrador. After breaking through the ice to the village and giving food and medical supplies to the natives and picking up the fishermen, she was caught in a snow storm in the sub zero weather and almost crushed by ice before she could return to Halifax.
On 4 March 1920 she resumed her patrols and was back at her old hone port of Mobile. On 11 October 1920, she was assigned to the Gulf Division. On 3 August 1921 Tallapoosa arrived at Norfolk towing sub chasers, on the 29th she arrived at Tampa towing the Arrow from Key West. On 3 December 1922, she returned to Key West from a cruise to Sanibel, FL. On 10 December her cruising district was again established as that portion of the coast bordering on the Gulf of Mexico and extending from Port Eads to Tampa, with headquarters still at Mobile, AL. On 30 January 1924, she participated in the Gasparilla Carnival at Tampa and and on 23 February 1925, she also participated in the Mardi Gras celebration at Mobile, AL.
On 2 January 1929, her permanent station was changed to Key West. From 9 November 1929 to 10 December 1930, she underwent extensive repairs and alterations at the Depot. Then she departed for her new home pert at Juneau, AK arriving there on 6 February 1931. She departed Juneau on 13 April for Dixon's Entrance on the Bering Sea Duty. The next few years were spent on Bering Sea Duty, Bering Sea Patrols and Seal Patrols in Alaskan waters, with occasional trips to Seattle, WA for drydocking.
She departed Seattle for hew new permanent station at Savannah, GA on 7 August 1937 and arrived at Savannah on 24 October. She spent the winter of 1939-1940 cruising on search and rescue missions in the Jacksonville District. From 24 October 1940 to 24 November 1940, she was being rearmed at the plant of Todd Shipyard, Inc., at Algiers, LA. She was rearmed, repaired, and altered at the plant of Merrill-Stevens Company late in 1942.
Tallapoosa remained in the 6th Naval District throughout World War II where she engaged in convoy and anti-submarine work. Between 30 May and 22 June 1942, she searched small areas where submarines had been sighted, but with negative results. On 4-5 November 1942 she was searching for reported submarine and during the next two days was escorting a British steamer en route to Lookout Bight. On 9 November she resumed her search for the submarine in the vicinity of Sapelo Island Buoy. On 11 November and 14 November she escorted another British vessel to Lookout Bight.
Standing out from Charleston, SC on 23 November 1942, she searched in the areas southeast of Charleston Whistle Buoy 2-C for about 15 miles, continuing her search next day before returning to Charleston. At 1800 the same day she stood out again to search 10 wiles northeast of the wreck of the lighted bell buoy en route to Southport, NC. On the 25th she rendezvoused off Southport, NC entrance buoy with Cornelius Barnett and escorted her to Lookout Bight, then she returned to Southport, NC. On the 26th she patrolled off Frying Pan Shoals and the next day escorted Henry Bacon from Southport to Lookout Bight.
On 10 December 1942, while on convoy duty, Tallapoosa made an apparent sound contact and dropped 11 MK VI depth charges and a marker buoy. The charges raised a quantity of oil, but it was decided that the target was a wreck and the cutter continued on convoy duty. On the 12th, while still on convoy duty, a CAP [Civil Air Patrol] plane dropped two smoke bombs in close proximity to the convoy. The cutter was unable to establish communications with the plane which departed immediately, and so she proceeded with the convoy.
On 19 December 1942 what appeared to be a submarine was heard on the cutter's sonar equipment, estimated three or four miles from the cutter. Tallapoosa notified the 4th Naval District but the submarine was not heard or seen again. Tallapoosa began a grid search westward from a position 30 miles due east of the reported sub position at 0900 that day with negative results. At 0140 on the 20th, a dispatch was received reporting a sub sighted three or four miles distant on bearing 015° from Savannah Lightship No. 94 and the cutter again carried cut grid search with negative result.
From 4 January 1943, the principal activity of Tallapoosa was as an observing vessel for tests in connection with shore blackouts. Attached to the Southern Ship Lane Patrol she operated from 4 January to 15 January 1943, from the section base at Mayport, FL under direction of the Base Commander and LCDR Fintel, USNR, attached to the Eastern Sea Frontier. The cutter made nightly trips to a position south at St. John's light vessel, sometimes accompanied by USS Umpqua, who acted as target vessel. The US Army Corps of Engineers made various arrangements of shore lighting in the vicinity of Jacksonville Beach. These lights varied in intensity and were measured on board the cutter from seaward by civilian experts using photometers to determine the amount of light constituting a hazard to a merchant vessel passing between a submarine and a shore light. On one occasion the visibility of various navigational aids was tested.
Proceeding to Jacksonville after three tests, the cutter underwent repairs until 28 February 1943, when she returned to her duties on the Southern Ship Lane Patrol. She remained in the 6th Naval District until the fall of 1945, when she was sent to Curtis Bay, MD for decommissioning. She was decommissioned on18 November 1945. On 22 July 1946 Tallapoosa was sold to the Caribbean Fruit and Steamship Company, Incorporated.
Photographs (click on description to access image):
Cutter files, USCG Historian's Office.
Canney, Donald L. U.S. Coast Guard and Revenue Cutters, 1790-1935. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995).
Scheina, Robert L. U.S. Coast Guard Cutters and Craft in World War II. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1982).
U.S. Coast Guard. Public Information Division. Historical Section. The Coast Guard at War: Transports and Escorts (Vol. V). (Washington, DC: Public Information Division, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 1949.