Station Annapolis, a subordinate unit of Sector Baltimore, has been
keeping watch over the Chesapeake Bay since 1957. Prior to that date, rescue
and assistance was launched out of Curtis Bay, a trip that could take close
to 90 minutes or more in ideal conditions! With the Country getting back in
the swing of things following the Great Depression and two wars, the economy
was at an all-time high in nearly 30 years. This prosperity caused a rise in
recreational boating numbers, almost 800% at the highest point.
In 1957, a seasonal station was established to help assist local mariners. The first Station Annapolis consisted of a 40’ Utility Boat from Group Baltimore and a five man crew lead by a Boatswains Mate 1st Class. The boat was moored at Annapolis City Dock and the crew was housed in a two bedroom apartment located above a two car garage on Dock Street that the local A&P grocery store used for storage.
Realizing that a more permanent presence would be needed in Annapolis, the Coast Guard worked with “Surfside 6 Floating Homes, Inc” of Fort Lauderdale for the construction of two experimental “houseboat stations” to be stationed in Annapolis and Fort Myers, FL. Work started on May 11th and the new unit was put into service on July 18th, 1963. The houseboat would be moored at the old Vosbury Marina at the end of 2nd Street in Eastport. This was located directly across the street from the old McNasby Oyster House, the present day Annapolis Maritime Museum. BMC William T. Burnette was the first Officer in Charge of the crew of ten. The 60’ x 28’ houseboat featured two duty rooms, sleeping four each. There was a “modern electric galley, sanitary facilities, and plenty of closets, cabinets, and storage space”. Access to the second level was via a spiral staircase. The Officer in Charge’s stateroom had berthing for two, as well as a combination office and radio room. The houseboat featured air conditioning, as well as an “automatic washer and clothes dryer”. In addition to the 40’ Utility Boat, the unit also received a 16’ outboard skiff.
As the saying goes, change is constant. In the late 1960s, the wheels were turning on constructing a permanent, land-based Coast Guard Station on Annapolis Neck. The ten acre site picked for this new station would accommodate the station building to house the crews’ dining facility, berthing, workshops, garages, helicopter pad, and communications center. In addition to the station buildings, two housing units were built with plans to build more as the needs and funds allowed. Two Annapolis-based companies were responsible for the construction; Dunton, Inc for the station and Lexington Construction Co. for the housing units, for a combined cost of $600,000. This facility was put into service on June 26th 1970 and a Chief Warrant Officer took charge of the unit and the 21 man crew. The boat allowance was increased again. The unit now had two 30’ Utility Boats, one 40’ Utility Boat, and a 17’ inboard engine utility boat. To assist with the Aids to Navigation mission, a 46’ stern-loading buoy boat and a newly designed 19’ boat for servicing buoys and other navigation equipment were also assigned to the station. In the mid-1970’s, the newly designed 41’ Utility Boat arrived at Station Annapolis and the unit would eventually lose it’s Aids to Navigation role to the ATON units located at Group Baltimore.
The terrorist attacks of September 11th brought big changes to Station Annapolis and it’s area of responsibility. Following the attacks, BMC Cole and his crew maintained a 24/7 security posture, had resources underway patrolling local critical infrastructure, as well as patrolling the waters around the Secretary of Transportation’s residence. A boat was also trailered to the Nation’s Capital to assist with securing the Potomac River and areas around the Pentagon. Due to being the closest unit to Washington, DC, Station Annapolis assumed control over the boat operations on the upper Potomac River. Over the next two years, several hundred active duty personnel on temporary orders from other units, along with reservists on active duty orders assisted with staffing both units, meeting the operational commitments assigned to each. Along with these new assignments, new resources were needed. The Response Boat Homeland Security or RB-HS was put into service in 2002, and Station Annapolis was the first station to receive the new asset. In June of 2003, Station Washington, DC was formed from a cadre of crew members of the Station Annapolis crew that had been working there since the beginning.
As the older boats were reaching their service life, Station Annapolis would employ the new Response Boat-Small. This was an upgraded version of the RB-HS, employing many of the suggestions received from Coast Guard units that were using this resource. In 2010, the aging 41’ Utility Boat of the 1970s would be replaced by the new Response Boat-Medium. A new contract was awarded for a replacement for the RB-S in 2012. Station Annapolis would receive two of these 29’ RB-S platforms, as well as serve as a “prime unit” to assist with prototyping changes and upgrades to the new asset.
Currently, Station Annapolis is billeted for 33 active duty and 14 reserve personnel to fill positions as Seaman/Fireman, Boatswains Mates, Machinery Technicians, Gunners Mates, Store Keepers, and Food Service Specialists. The unit currently has one Response Boat-Medium and two Response Boat-Small assets assigned to carry out approximately 130 Search and Rescue (SAR) cases and 300 Law Enforcement boardings annually.