Lifesaving stations along the New Jersey coast have been established, moved, rebuilt, closed, and reopened throughout their history according to the needs of the service, political climate, and effects of weather. A station was built at Cape May Point in 1849 and remained in service until 1948 after being moved further inland on two separate occasions. Station Cold Spring, located on Cape May’s oceanfront, served the area from 1868 until sometime during World War II. Another station was located on the present site of the Cape May-Lewis Ferry Terminal and operated under the names of Bay Shore Station, Cape May Lifeboat Station, and West End Station. It operated from 1873 until 1961. From 1844 through World War II stations in the Wildwood area included Two Mile Beach/Turtle Gut, which was located near Cape May Inlet and Two Mile Beach/Holly Beach/Wildwood Station, which was two miles south of Hereford Inlet. Stations existed near Hereford Light from 1849 until 1964, at Sea Isle City from 1888 until 1939 and at Stone Harbor from 1872 to 1948.
The first lifesaving station in Cape May Harbor was built sometime between 1907 and 1923. At that time Cape May Harbor and its inlet were referred to as Cold Spring Harbor and Cold Spring Inlet. It is not uncommon to hear some of the seasoned and local mariners still using these terms. A local paper dated in 1923 reported a new Coast Guard Station had been built in Cape May Harbor, when in fact the new station was made from a remodeled hospital. The Training Center Cape May Boathouse, located at the foot of Pier 4, came to be called Coast Guard Moorings. Small boat activity in the harbor was controlled from this facility. The boathouse was officially designated as Station Cape May in 1964. The building was destroyed by fire the next year and the unit was relocated to an electrical substation at the foot of Pier 4. In 1969 Station Cape May was moved to building 203. Building 203 was built as a Navy laundry in 1942 and was extensively remodeled in 1987. Station Cape May operated out of building 203 until 2012 when an eleven million dollar multi-mission building and boat maintenance facility was built to house the Station, ANT, VBST and three 87-foot Patrol Boat (USCGC Finback, Ibis and Mako) units that operate along the New Jersey waterways and coast.
Station Cape May over the years operated numerous boat types – mainly the 47’ MLB and other non-standard platforms. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Coast Guard also acquired the 25’ Defender Class Boats to support the new Homeland Security mission. In August 2012, the unit received its first 45’ Response Boat Medium (RB-M) made by Kvichack Marine Industries in Kent, WA. The RB-M is a jet driven vessel equipped with state-of-the-art technology, infrared radar and increased speed and sea keeping abilities. Later that year in December, Station Cape May received its second RB-M becoming equipped with two 45’ RB-Ms, four 25’ RB-Ss and one 24’ SPC-SW to accomplish its vast array of missions in the Delaware Bay, Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterways of New Jersey. Station Cape May proudly performs as the largest small boat stations under Sector Delaware Bay performing over 70 Search and Rescue cases, 1,000 Law Enforcement Boardings and 3,300 underway hours annually.