Daily Chronology of Coast Guard History
- 1813-At 1100 in the morning, while at anchor in
Charleston Harbor, the powder room of the cutter Gallatin exploded, blowing off the cutter’s stern and quarterdeck.
The explosion and subsequent fire killed three
crewmembers instantly and seriously wounded five more. The cutter sank
at its anchorage. A Charleston newspaper reported, "Between the hours of ten and eleven yesterday
forenoon, a most awful explosion took place in this harbor, on board the
Revenue schooner GALLATIN, commanded by Capt. John. H. Silliman. . .There were
about 35 persons in all on board; of this number about 10 were on the
quarter deck and in the cabin; part of them employed in cleaning the
arms. Thus situated, the dreadful explosion took place, and in one
instant the whole quarter deck with all of those upon it, were hurled
into the air. Some of the bodies were thrown nearly as high as the mast
head of the vessel; others were driven through the cabin and lodged upon
the main deck. The whole stern of the vessel was torn down to a level
with the water."
Those who were killed were Gunner's Mate Thomas Feld, George Segur,
and one unidentified seaman. The reported wounded were William Pritchard
(Gunner), John McCoan, Benjamin Chart, George Craft, and William
- 1897- Under an Executive Order dated May 6,
1896, federal Civil Service rules were applied to the Life-Saving
- 1916-1 April 1916 marks the official birthday of Coast Guard
aviation. On this date in 1916 Third Lieutenant Elmer F. Stone reported to Pensacola
Naval Air Station for flight training. He was the Coast Guard's
- 1945-The invasion of Okinawa in the Ryukyu
Islands commenced. In all, seven Coast Guard-manned transports,
29 LSTs, the cutters Bibb and Woodbine, and 12 Coast
Guard-manned LCI(L)s participated in the bloodiest invasion ever
undertaken by the United States. Over 13,000 Americans were killed and
another 36,000 were wounded during the conquest of this Japanese
- 1946-A tsunami swept away the light
station at Scotch Cap, Alaska, killing the station's entire five-man
crew. They were: BMC Anthony L. Petit, MoMM 2/c Leonard
Pickering, F 1/c Jack Colvin, SN 1/c Dewey Dykstra, and SN 1/c Paul
- 1967-The Coast Guard
ended its 177-year association with the Treasury Department when it
transferred to the
newly-created Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT was created when President Lyndon
Johnson signed Executive Order 167-81. The Coast Guard was the
largest agency in the new department.
- 1969-The Coast Guard established an Ocean Engineering
Division within the Office of Engineering.
The new division was formed to improve engineering support for
the marine sciences and short-range aids to navigation missions.
- 1977-CGC Dauntless operating along with CGC
in the area of Cay Lobos Bahamas boarded F/V Big Champ. The
boarding party discovered 5,000 lbs. of marijuana. The vessel and
marijuana were seized and the four POB were arrested.
- 1978-CGC Acushnet changed designation from WAGO to
WMEC "to allow for the increased multi-mission utilization of the
vessel." Acushnet's primary mission continued to be Marine Science
Activities (MSA) "due to its special capabilities for environmental buoy
- 1984-CGC Gallatin made the
largest maritime cocaine seizure to date when it boarded and seized
the 33-foot sailboat Chinook and her crew of two. A
boarding team discovered 1,800 pounds of cocaine stashed aboard
- 1924-Congress appropriated $13,000,000
for ten air stations and equipment. Congress first authorized
the stations on 29 August 1916 but did not provide for sufficient
funding until this date.
- 1982-The first aircraft of the newest
addition to the Coast Guard's air fleet, the HU-25A Guardian, was
dedicated and christened at Aviation Training Center Mobile.
- 1983-The State Department forwarded a
request for assistance from the United Arab Emirates to help prepare
for an oil spill cleanup in the Persian Gulf. The spill occurred
after combat operations during the Iran-Iraq war had left many oil
wells burning and leaking oil. Four Coast Guard pollution
experts responded to the request.
- 1882-The schooner Morris was
unable to enter Muskegon, Michigan, between the piers and was aided by
the lookout of Station No. 8, Eleventh District. He used a
heaving-stick and throwing a line to get a hawser to the vessel. The
same service was rendered later in the day by two of the station men
to the schooner Willis Smith of South Haven.
- 1968-Coast Guard exchange pilots arrive in South Vietnam to fly
combat SAR missions with the Air Force.
- 2014-CGC Mackinaw, home-ported in Cheboygan,
Michigan, conducted an escort on Lake Superior near Whitefish Point.
Mackinaw's crew worked together with the crew of Canadian Coast
Guard Ship Pierre Radisson, home-ported in Quebec City, as part of an
ongoing bi-national agreement between the U.S. and Canada, to break
sheet ice that was nearly 40 inches thick.
- 1912- President William Howard Taft recommended
abolishing the Revenue Cutter Service. Instead of elimination
though his actions led to the
creation of the Coast Guard by consolidating the Revenue Cutter Service and
the Life-Saving Service on 28 January 1915.
- 1933-The Navy airship USS Akron crashed
the Barnegat Lightship. The ensuing search and rescue efforts employed over 20 Coast Guard
vessels and aircraft.
1972- On 4 April 1972 BMC (later BMCM) Thomas D.
McAdams became the first Coast Guardsmen to receive the new Coxswain
insignia. Then-Commandant ADM Chester Bender presented the
insignia to Chief McAdams at a ceremony at the Coast Guard's Small
Boat School in Ilwaco, WA, where McAdams was the OIC.
- 1941-President Franklin Roosevelt signed the official order to
transfer all 10 Coast Guard Lake-Class cutters of the Coast Guard to the Royal Navy
- 1950-The Coast Guard announced that
former enlisted women of the Coast Guard Reserve could apply for
enlistment in the "Women’s Volunteer Reserve."
Enlistments were to be for a three-year period with written agreement
to serve on active duty in time of war or national emergency.
- 1967-The commander of all Soviet fishing vessels in the
Far East, Evgeniy Gromov, invited representatives from the Coast Guard
and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries to meet aboard the Soviet vessel
Olivtorka off Kodiak, Alaska. The purpose of the meeting was to improve understanding
in the implementation of the recent U.S.-Soviet 12-mile fisheries agreement
that went into effect on 15 March 1967.
- 1894-The President authorized the Revenue
Cutter Service to enforce the Paris Award, which was concerned with
the preservation of fur seals in Alaska.
- 1917-The United States declared war on
Germany and joined the Allied Powers in World War I. The Coast
Guard, which at that time consisted of 15 cruising cutters, 200
commissioned officers, and 5,000 warrant officers and enlisted men,
became part of the U. S. Navy by Executive Order. The cutters
immediately reported to their assigned naval districts for duty.
Cutters provided armed parties to seize German ships that had been
interned in U.S. ports. Coast Guard aviators were assigned to
naval air stations in this country and abroad. One Coast
Guardsman, First Lieutenant (Eng.) Charles E. Sugden, USCG,
commanded the Naval Air Station at Ile Tudy, France, and was later
awarded the French Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. Another
officer, Second Lieutenant (Eng.) Philip B. Eaton, USCG,
commanded Chatham Naval Air Station and he piloted one of two HS-1
seaplanes that attempted to bomb and machine gun a surfaced U-boat off
the coast of New England after the U-boat had shelled a tug and barges
four miles off Cape Cod. Eaton's bombs failed to explode,
however, and the U-boat escaped. One cutter, CGC Tampa, was lost
in action with all hands while on convoy duty in British waters.
- 1949-A U.S. Coast Guard H03S-1 helicopter
completed the longest unescorted helicopter ferry flight on record. The trip from Elizabeth City, NC to Port Angeles, WA via San Diego, a
distance of 3,750 miles, took 10-1/2 days to complete and involved a
total flight time of 57.6 hours.
- 1866-The first Commandant of the U.S. Coast
Guard, Ellsworth P. Bertholf, was born in New York City on this date in
1866. He entered the Revenue Cutter Service as a cadet on 14
September 1885 and graduated from the Revenue Cutter School of
Instruction with the Class of 1887.
- 1938-Congress passed HR 8982, an
amendment to the Alien Fishing Act (50 Stat. 639). The amendment
clarified the earlier laws on salmon fishing in Alaskan waters by
limiting commercial salmon fishing in the vicinity of Bristol Bay,
Alaska, to U.S. citizens only. The act was enforced by the Coast
- 1942-A Coast Guard aircraft directed a
Royal Navy trawler to a life boat with 24 survivors off the coast of
- 1952-The breakup of ice in the Missouri River and its tributaries at Bismarck, North Dakota, and
above, and on the Big Sioux, created the worst flooding conditions in
that area in thirty years. U.S. Coast Guard personnel rendered
assistance, utilizing small boats,
mobile radio stations, automotive equipment, helicopters, and fixed
wing aircraft. The Coast Guard evacuated stranded persons,
transported critical relief supplies, evacuated livestock from low
ground, transported personnel engaged in levee construction, and
generally assisted the Red Cross, local, state, civil, and military
- 1909- Race Point, Massachusetts-The
sloop Keewaydin IV’s mast was carried away and the sloop
anchored 2 miles SW of station, but dragged ashore. Station crew was
on the beach when she struck and the keeper rowed out surf and threw a
heaving line on board. One of the two men was rescued by this means. The
other jumped overboard and was pulled ashore by the keeper. The sloop
drifted up on the beach and became a total wreck.
- 1913-The cutter Seneca, designed from the keel
up as the nation's first "derelict destroyer,"
inaugurated the service’s participation in the International Ice
- 1978-CGC Katmai Bay was launched at Tacoma Boatbuilding Company,
Inc., in Tacoma, Washington. Katmai Bay was the first cutter in
the Coast Guard's new class of icebreaking harbor tugs. The cutter
was sponsored by Ms. Jeanmarie Griffin.
- 1859-Samuel Clemens, who later gained
fame under the pseudonym Mark Twain, was issued a steamboat pilot's
- 1867-The Senate ratified a treaty to
purchase Alaska from Russia. The cutter Lincoln was
dispatched with LT George W. Moore, USRM, as the first U.S.
agent in the territory.
- 1941-The United States and Denmark signed an
"agreement relating to the defense of Greenland." The Coast Guard, in
part because of its experience in the Arctic environment, was the
principal service used to carry out the agreement. The first action seen by
U.S. forces in World War II was the seizure of a weather station
and a pro-German vessel in Greenland waters by CGC Northland
just before the U.S. officially entered the war.
- 1938-The Coast Guard established a "Flood Relief
Force" to assist the Red Cross and the victims of flooding of the
Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers. The "Force" consisted of 26
motorboats, one communication truck, two portable radio
sets, one Grumman JF-2 amphibian aircraft and 60
enlisted men, all under the command of LCDR Roy Raney and
based at Selma, Alabama. On April 10 and 11 the
Floor Relief Force was "engaged in removing persons from
dangerous positions and in transporting Government and
Red Cross officials throughout the flood area."
- 2014-CGC Seneca returned
to its homeport in Boston after
completing a 53-day deployment which included two weeks
of training at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek,
Virginia, and five weeks of fisheries patrols off the coasts
of New Jersey, Virginia, and North Carolina. Seneca patrolled the
Mid-Atlantic Ocean in support of the Coast Guard Fifth District's Operation
Ocean Hunter. They boarded 26 fishing vessels from March
2 until April 5. During the patrol, Seneca ensured
the commercial fishing fleet was in compliance with all
federal fisheries regulations and issued two fisheries
violations. In addition to law enforcement, Seneca
conducted a workup with the Coast Guard Maritime
Security Response Team and other deployable specialized
forces units. Using Seneca's flight deck, MSRT
members completed 76 vertical insertions and 44 hoists.
They also completed 210 climbs where they boarded the
cutter from a tactical boat via a caving ladder. Seneca
also completed several helicopter in-flight
refuels and vertical replenishments with Coast Guard Air
Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
- 2015-CGC Seneca returned to its homeport in
Boston after a 64-day deployment. The crew of Seneca completed Tailored Ships
Training Availability (TSTA), served as a primary Search
and Rescue Response asset along the eastern seaboard,
and conducted fisheries enforcement boardings from South
Carolina to Maine. During the patrol, the crew responded to the Motor
Vessel Grey Shark, approximately 175 nautical miles off
the coast of Cape May, New Jersey which was reported
adrift and on fire. Seneca arrived on scene
and escorted the vessel until the Eileen Mcallister took
the vessel in tow to New York. The cutter’s crew also participated in an
international, multi-agency search and rescue exercise
in Rhode Island Sound, conducting more than 45 small
boat and helicopter hoist evolutions with partners from
five Coast Guard units, the New York Air National Guard,
and Canadian Forces. For the final mission of the patrol, Seneca
hosted Maine Marine Patrol officers for a 24-hour
fisheries enforcement operation, targeting lobster
fishing boats off the coast of Rockland, Maine.
- 1917-With the outbreak of World War I President Woodrow Wilson issued an
executive order transferring 30 lighthouse tenders to the War Department.
All were subsequently assigned to the
Navy Department and 15 lighthouse tenders, four lightships, and 21
light stations also were transferred to the Navy Department. One more
tender was transferred on 31 January 1918 making a total of 50 vessels
and 1,132 persons. The War Department used those assigned in laying
submarine defense nets during the war and in removing these defenses after the
war. Other duties performed by these vessels were placing practice
targets, buoys to mark wrecks of torpedoed vessels and other marks for
military purposes, as well as being employed on patrols and special
- 1938-Coast Guard Patrol Boat CG-240, part of the Coast Guard's Flood
Relief Force established to assist flood victims in Alabama, evacuated
102 persons from the vicinity of Hohn Miller's Plantation, below Camden,
- 1952-Immediately following the crash of
a commercial overseas transport aircraft off the San Juan Harbor,
Coast Guard forces coordinated with those of the U.S. Air Force and U.S.
Navy to rescue 17 of the 69 persons on board.
- 1971-Coast Guard cutters Rush (WHEC-723) and Morgenthau (WHEC-722),
assigned to Coast Guard Squadron Three in Vietnam, destroy an enemy
- 2003-CGC Wrangell
and the USS Firebolt, with embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement
Detachment 406, escorted the first commercially transported
humanitarian aid shipment into the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. The
Motor Vessel Manar, owned by Manar Marine Services of the
United Arab Emirates, delivered almost 700 tons of humanitarian aid
including food, water, first aid and transport vehicles. This aid
shipment was supplied and coordinated by the UAE Red Crescent Society.
This was the fourth aid shipment to arrive in Umm Qasr after the
launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
- 1808-Subsistence for Army officers
was fixed at 20 cents per ration and later that year it was applied to all officers
of the revenue cutters.
- 1843-Captain Alexander V. Fraser,
Revenue Cutter Service, was appointed Chief of the newly-created Revenue
Marine Bureau of Treasury. He therefore became, in effect, the
service's first "Commandant".
- 1861-The cutter Harriet Lane
fired the first shot from a naval vessel in the Civil War. The
cutter fired across the bow of the merchant vessel Nashville
when the latter attempted to enter Charleston Harbor without
displaying the national flag.
- 1900-An Act of Congress (31 Stat. L.,
77, 80) extended the jurisdiction of the Lighthouse Service to the
noncontiguous territory of Puerto Rico and adjacent American waters.
- 1902-Congress authorized the retirement
of officers at 3/4 pay for incapacity. Congress also made all
promotions subject to examinations (mental and physical).
Additionally, commissioned officers of the Revenue Cutter Service were
granted the same pay and allowances "except forage" as
officers of corresponding rank in the Army, including longevity pay.
- 1979-LTJG Beverly Kelley assumed
command of CGC Cape Newagen, thereby becoming the first
woman to command a U.S. warship.
- 1997-The Coast Guard commissioned CGC Ida Lewis (WLM 551) on this date in
1997. The tender was assigned to Newport, Rhode Island.
Ida Lewis was the lead ship of 14 new 175-foot Keeper Class coastal
buoy tenders built by Marinette Marine of Marinette, Wisconsin for the
service. They were the first Coast Guard cutters equipped with Z-Drive propulsion units
and were named after famous lighthouse keepers.
- 2013-The U.S. Coast Guard and Makah
Tribal Council signed a Memorandum of Agreement to reaffirm their
integral partnership, cooperation and coordination in pollution
prevention and response. The focus of the MOA was to enhance
consultation, improve the leveraging of resources within respective
authorities as applicable, and to improve collective all-hazards
prevention and response posture within the maritime environment that
comprises the Makah Treaty Area.
- 2015-CGC Active returned to its home-port of Port Angeles after seizing more than $17 million
worth of illegal narcotics during an 88-day deployment. Active was deployed to the
Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central America in support of
Joint Interagency Task Force South. During the deployment, Active’s crew
responded to search and rescue calls, detained a number of suspicious
vessels and suspects and seized over 1,177 pounds of of cocaine from
- 1909-Cleveland, Ohio, Lake Erie. Two
boys were unable to pull against the wind, were in danger of drifting
on the breakwater. Life-saving crew at Cleveland went out, took the
two boys in their power lifeboat, and towed their boat to East Ninth
- 2014-CGC Stratton returned to its homeport at Coast Guard Island
in Alameda, California, after a 97-day deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Since departing 6 January 2014, Stratton completed a 22,000-mile patrol in
support of joint counter-drug operations off the coast of California and
in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. During this operational patrol, Stratton's
law enforcement crews seized 500 kilograms and disrupted 1,650 kilograms
of cocaine valued in excess of $70 million. Additionally, Stratton's crew demonstrated their dedication
to marine life when a crew aboard their small boat noticed a sea turtle
entangled in fishing line about 500 miles off the coast of Panama 19 March
19, 2014. After bringing the turtle aboard the small boat, the
crewmembers freed it from the line and sent it back to sea. During
a port call in Panama City, Panama, Stratton's crew participated
in a community relations project by painting and restoring a local
- 2015-CGC Escanaba returned to its homeport in Boston
after a 54-day deployment in the Caribbean. During the patrol,
Escanaba’s mission was to detect and interdict vessels
suspected of narcotics trafficking in the waters south of Puerto Rico
and the Dominican Republic in support of Operation Unified Resolve.
Escanaba, in conjunction with Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma,
a 270-foot cutter home-ported in Kittery, Maine, pursued two go-fast
vessels and assisted in two multi-agency interdictions resulting in the
detention of eight suspected drug smugglers and 1,300 pounds of cocaine,
valued at $16 million. Prior to the patrol, Escanaba's crew completed Tailored
Ship’s Training Availability at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, which
included 134 drills and exercises spanning five warfare areas: command
and control, engineering, damage control, seamanship, and weapons.
- 1876-An Act of Congress (19 Stat. L.,
132, 139) provided that any person "who shall willfully and
unlawfully injure any pier, break-water, or other work of the United
States for the improvement of rivers or harbors, on navigation in the
United States, shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not
exceeding one thousand dollars."
- 1912-At around 11:40 p.m. on the night
of 14 April, RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg off
Newfoundland while sailing on her maiden voyage from Southampton to
New York. She sank a little over two hours later. There
were 1,517 lost including 103 women and 53 children out of total
passenger and crew of 2,207. Subsequently, certification and
life saving devices were improved and an International Ice Patrol was
created to patrol the sea lanes off Newfoundland and Greenland during
the winter months. The Revenue Cutter Service took over the
operation of the Patrol the following year.
- 1943-On 14 April 1943 Joseph C. Jenkins
graduated as ensign in the Coast Guard Reserve, becoming the first
officially recognized commissioned African-American officer in the
- 2012-The Coast Guard commissioned CGC Bernard C. Webber,
the first of the new 154-foot Sentinel-Class cutters. These
cutters were built to replace the 110-foot Island-Class WPBs.
Bernard C. Webber was built by Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport,
Louisiana and was assigned the homeport of Miami, Florida.
schooner G.A. Hayden grounded northeast of Station Point Judith. The sea
being too rough for surfboat, the life-saving crew took the beach
apparatus to the wreck and succeeded in reaching her with the second
shot. The first of her crew was landed in the breeches buoy at 12: 10
am. After 4 trips the last one came ashore at 12: 45. The vessel was a
- 1986-The Libyan military, on
orders from dictator Moammar Gadhafi, fired a missile at Coast
Guard LORAN Station Lampedusa off the coast of Italy. The
missile fell harmlessly in the Mediterranean and there were no
- 1820-Landing parties from the cutters Louisiana
and Alabama destroyed a pirate base on Breton Island.
- 1908- Congress authorized the creation
of the Office of Captain-Commandant and Engineer in Chief.
Additionally, commanding officers of vessels were authorized to
administer oaths of allegiance and other oaths for service
requirements in Alaska.
- 1944-The Coast Guard-manned destroyer
escort USS Joyce, along with her sister warship USS Peterson
and a Navy DE sank the German submarine U-550 off New York. The
U-boat first torpedoed what was at the time the largest tanker in the
world as the convoy it was joining was forming up outside of New York
harbor. The destroyer escorts then attacked the U-boat, forcing it
to the surface and then sank it in a surface gun-battle. Joyce
rescued the surviving u-boatmen as well as those off the stricken
- 1947-The French-owned Liberty ship Grandcamp
exploded while loading ammonium nitrate at Texas City, Texas in one of
the worst peace-time accidents ever to occur in a U.S. port. Over 500
died and thousands were injured.
- 1965-Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze asked Secretary of the
Treasury Henry Fowler for Coast Guard assistance to combat seaborne
infiltration from North Vietnam. This naval operation in Vietnam
was named Operation Market Time.
- 1805-The cutter Louisiana engaged
two pirate vessels that had been fitted out at New Orleans.
Twenty shots were exchanged but the pirate vessels escaped.
- 1851-The Minot's Ledge Lighthouse, the
first one built in the United States that was exposed to the full
force of the ocean, was swept away by a storm with the loss of the two
men manning it. They were Assistant Keepers
Joseph Wilson and Joseph Antoine who maintained their
station, ringing the lighthouse's bell, until waves swept the tower
1943- Lieutenant Ross P. Bullard and
Boatswain's Mate First Class C. S. "Mike" Hall boarded the
U-175 at sea after their cutter, CGC Spencer, blasted the U-boat to the surface with depth charges when
attempted to attack the convoy Spencer was escorting.
These Coast Guardsmen were part of a specially trained boarding party
sent to board the submarine to seize any code-related documents and
cipher equipment they could find.
The damage to the U-boat was severe, however, and it sank after they
had boarded it and climbed up the conning tower. Both men ended up
in the sea as the U-boat slipped beneath the waves but were pulled
from the water unharmed. They carry the distinction of being
the first American servicemen to board an enemy warship underway at
sea since the War of 1812. The Navy credited Spencer with the U-boat kill. The cutter rescued 19
of the U-boat's crew and a sister cutter, CGC Duane, rescued 22.
One Spencer crewman, RM 3/c Julius Petrella,
was killed by friendly fire during the
- 1805-The cutter Louisiana
recaptured the merchant brig Felicity from privateers off the
mouth of the Mississippi River.
- 1945-Airship training for U.S. Coast
Guard personnel (nine officers & 30 enlisted men) began at Naval
Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey.
- 1993-Coast Guardsman Gary A. Openshaw rescued five persons in danger
of drowning near San Francisco off Baker Beach. For heroically
risking his life and saving those five people the Coast Guard awarded
Petty Officer Openshaw the Gold Life-Saving Medal.
- 1995-A rental truck filled with
explosives blew up half of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma. Coast Guardsmen from the Coast Guard Institute and a
Coast Guard reservist responded soon after the explosion and helped
set up security zones, directed traffic, searched for survivors, and
whatever else was needed. They also took over a church kitchen
and opened what later became nicknamed "Cafe Coast Guard."
A rotating nine-person team worked around the clock to provide meals for
the volunteer workers.
- 2014-Coast Guard marine inspectors conducted safety and security
examinations on the first-ever container ship to arrive in Cleveland on 19 April 2014.
The Fortunagracht, a 450-foot Dutch-flagged container ship, delivered
the first-ever load of containerized cargo to the Great Lakes.
Before the establishment of the Cleveland-Europe Express, shippers
relied heavily on rail service to transport goods from the larger east
coast container ports, such as New York and Baltimore, to the Great
Lakes region. Talks to bring CEE to Cleveland began in the fall of 2013 with cooperation
between the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, the FBI and
other government agencies.
- 1871-The Secretary of the Treasury was
authorized by Congress to employ crews of experienced surfmen at
lifeboat stations at maximum rate of $40 per month, marking the end of
the volunteer system. This was the beginning of direct Federal control
over life-saving activities.
- 1997-Dikes along the Red River in North Dakota
gave way causing dangerous floods. The Coast Guard responded to calls
for assistance and rescued more than 200 people from danger.
- 1838-The passenger steamboat Oronoko
suffered a catastrophic boiler explosion while tied up at Princeton,
Mississippi that killed over 100
passengers. This was one of three fatal steamboat boiler
explosions within as many months that forced the Federal Government to
begin regulating merchant steam vessels.
- 1910-The U.S. Government took over the
sealing operation of Pribiloff Islands from private lessees.
- 1924-In an effort to increase the
number of cutters available for Prohibition enforcement, Navy
destroyers were transferred to the Coast Guard for law enforcement
purposes. The Coast Guard was also authorized to commission
- 1963-While returning home from duty on Ocean Station Charlie, CGC
Campbell diverted to assist the sinking M/V Helga Smith
50 miles southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland. Upon arrival,
Campbell prepared to put a repair party aboard the merchantman
but the master of Helga Smith ordered his crew to abandon ship
due to the seriousness of the flooding. With Campbell's
searchlights illuminating the scene, the crew abandoned ship in a motor
lifeboat. The boat's motor would not start so the crew pulled away
from the ship with oars. A lifeboat from Campbell then
towed them alongside the cutter where the survivors were assisted aboard
by a rescue party in a rubber lifeboat. Two commercial tugs
arrived on the scene and commenced towing Helga Smith to St.
John's, Newfoundland, with Campbell escorting. While
enroute though Helga Smith settled by the bow and sank.
Campbell then proceeded to Argentia, Newfoundland with the
- 1980-Boats with Cuban migrants on board began
departing Mariel, Cuba. The first two boats arrived in Miami the
same day, marking the beginning of the largest Cuban migration to the
U.S. to date. Cuban leader Fidel Castro declared the port of
Mariel "open", increasing the number of boats involved in
the exodus and giving the exodus its name. This became the
largest Coast Guard operation ever undertaken to date since World War
II. The Coast Guard coordinated a three-wave
operation. Coast Guard high endurance cutters operated closest
to Cuba. U.S. Navy ships operated in the inner-wave and Coast
Guard small cutters, 95 and 82-footers, served the waters closest to
Florida. Over 660 Coast Guard Reservists were called to replace
boat crews, and maintenance and repair teams. The Coast Guard
Auxiliary lent support in many areas, including radio communications.
Over 117,000 people in more than 5,000 boats were assisted by the
Coast Guard and Navy forces during the Mariel Boatlift.
- 2011-On this date in 2011, the Coast Guard's first 154-foot Fast Response
Cutter, CGC Bernard C. Webber, "entered the water" at Bollinger
Shipyards in Lockport, Louisiana. During a three day evolution,
the cutter was towed from the fabrication facility, lifted on a crane
and then successfully placed in the water.
- 2013-CGC Waesche returned to its homeport at Coast Guard Island in Alameda,
California after a 91-day deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Departing on
20 January 2013, Waesche completed an 18,000-mile patrol in support of joint counter-drug
operations off the coast of California and in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
During that time the cutter and crew demonstrated their capability as a
multi-mission unit. During their patrol, Waesche's crew assisted two
boaters in distress when their 12-foot sailboat began taking on water
approximately three miles west of San Diego. Earlier in their patrol,
participated in a search and rescue mission assisting two mariners 90
miles west of San Diego when their sailboat began taking on water. Also
in January law enforcement crews aboard the cutter seized more than
2,400 pounds of marijuana from a boat approximately 300 miles west of
San Diego, apprehended three suspects and recovered 70 bales which
tested positive for marijuana. Additionally, during the mid-patrol
break in Panama City, Panama, Waesche crewmembers participated in a
community relations project by painting and restoring a local school.
- 2014-The Coast Guard concluded icebreaking
operations on the lower Great Lakes on 21 April 2014, more than four months after
it started on 15 December 2013. Operation Coal Shovel is a
bi-national domestic icebreaking effort covering the St. Lawrence
Seaway, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the Detroit/St. Clair River System, and
southern Lake Huron. Crews aboard CGCs
Mackinaw, Hollyhock, Bristol Bay, Neah Bay
and Morro Bay were joined by crews from
Canadian Coast Guard Ships Samuel Risley, Griffon and
Des Groseilliers. In total the Coast Guard crews conducted
more than 2,100 icebreaking hours during the 128 days of Operation Coal
Shovel. Also assisting the ships with ice reconnaissance were aircrews
from AIRSTA Traverse City and AIRSTA Detroit. During Operation Coal Shovel, U.S. and Canadian Coast
Guard crews assisted 184 vessels and provided harbor breakouts to
relieve or prevent flooding in four U.S. and one Canadian community.
- 1790-The Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, submitted a
bill to Congress to create a "system of cutters" to enforce tariff and
customs laws along the nation's coastline.
- 1944-Coast Guardsmen participated in
the invasions of Aitape and Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea.
- 1965-The Coast Guard and the Navy agreed on the deployment of
82-foot patrol and 40-foot utility boats to support Operation
Market Time in Vietnam.
Jerome G. Kiah and his crew of six surfmen from the Point Aux Barques
Life-Saving Station responded to a distress signal from a stranded scow
in Lake Huron. They departed their station in their pulling
surfboat but the boat capsized a number of times in the icy water,
eventually causing the six surfmen to perish from hypothermia. Only
Captain Kiah survived the ordeal, but was severely injured from the cold
water and forced to resign from the Service. He carried the
psychological scars of the disaster for the rest of his life, but
rejoined the Life-Saving Service later that year as District
- 1919-USS Marietta, under the
command of future commandant Harry Hamlet, rescued 47 men from the USS
James which was sinking in a gale off the coast of France.
- 1924- A tube transmitter for radio
fog-signal stations, developed to take the place of the spark
transmitters then in use, was placed in service on the Ambrose Channel
Lightship and proved successful.
- 2007-The Intelligence Specialist (IS) rating was launched with a
special ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters.
- 1943-While loading a cargo of ammunition
at a Bayonne, New Jersey pier, the freighter El Estero caught
fire, threatening downtown Manhattan with devastation should the
ship's cargo explode. Coast Guardsmen under the command of LCDR
John T. Stanley responded immediately and were soon reinforced by
local firefighters. Two Coast Guard fireboats along with
commercial and New York City firefighting tugs headed to the area.
LCDR Stanley boarded the freighter which was now burning out of
control and he was joined by LCDR Arthur F. Pfister who was in charge
of the Coast Guard vessels. Upon consultation with the Captain
of the Port of New York, Third District commander RADM Stanley V.
Parker, they decided to scuttle the ship. However, the sea cocks
were not accessible and so they decided to fill the vessel with water.
While firefighting teams fought the blaze aboard the El Estero,
the tugs arrived and took the freighter under tow, heading to deeper
water away from New York City. The tugs and firefighting vessels
began spraying their water cannons on the freighter, filling her holds
with water. The residents of the city were warned to expect an
imminent explosion. Fortunately, the vessel began listing to
starboard and soon thereafter sank northwest of the Robbins Reef
Light, extinguishing the fires. All of the men aboard the vessel
escaped harm. The fire was later ruled as accidental.
- 1967-At the request of the U.S. Navy, five Coast Guard high
endurance cutters (WHECs) were commissioned as Coast Guard Three
(RONTHREE) at Pearl Harbor for service in Vietnam.
- 2004-Damage Controlman Third Class
Nathan Bruckenthal, USCG, from Smithtown, New York, and two U. S. Navy
sailors were killed in the line of duty while conducting maritime
intercept operations in the North Arabian Gulf. He and six other
coalition sailors attempted to board a small boat near the Iraqi Khawr
Al Amaya Oil Terminal. As they boarded the boat it exploded.
Petty Officer Bruckenthal died later from injuries sustained in the
explosion. Petty Officer Bruckenthal was the first Coast
Guardsman killed in action since the Vietnam War. He was
assigned to Tactical Law Enforcement South in Miami, Florida and
deployed with Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia aboard the USS Firebolt.
This was his second deployment to the Arabian Gulf for Operation Iraqi
- 1819-USRC Active captured
the pirate vessel Irresistible in the Chesapeake Bay.
- 1838-The steamboat Moselle, with more
than 265 passengers and crew aboard, departed from a landing near Cincinnati,
Ohio for St. Louis. Her boilers exploded soon after casting off,
killing 136. This was one of
three catastrophic steamboat boiler explosions within as many months that
forced the Federal Government to begin regulating merchant steam
- 1956-The U.S. Coast Guard issued new
regulations for security screening of merchant seamen. Changes in the
screening program were made for the purpose of conforming with a
recent U .S. Court of Appeals ruling (Parker V. Lester) which held
that procedures used by the Coast Guard did not meet the minimum
requirements of due process of law. The legal background for the Coast
Guard security program stems from the Magnuson Act, which authorized
the President to issue rules safeguarding vessels and waterfront
facilities when he found security endangered by a subversive activity.
The President made such a finding in 1950 by Executive Order No. 10173
and directed the Coast Guard to set up and conduct the program.
- 1898-During the Spanish-American War,
Hudson, and Hamilton, formerly revenue cutters and
recently armed for service in the so-called "Mosquito
Fleet," passed through Hampton Roads and after asking formal
permission of the Commodore, proceeded to Key West. From that
point they joined the Navy ships of the Cuban blockading fleet.
- 1899-On April 26, the Revenue Cutter
Service signed a lease with two prominent Baltimore landowners for 36
acres of farmland surrounding Arundel Cove, Maryland. Two months later,
LT John Moore, USRCS, arrived aboard the side-wheeler Colfax to
establish the "Revenue Cutter Station at Curtis Bay,"
today's United States Coast Guard Yard.
- 1912-President William Howard Taft boarded the USRC Mohawk
on this date in 1912. The cutter took the president from New York
City's Recreation Pier on "West 50th Street" to Governors Island and
back for the funeral of MAJGEN Frederick Dent Grant, son of former
President Ulysses S. Grant.
- 1865-The boilers on the 260-foot wooden-hulled
exploded while the vessel was traveling on the Mississippi River near
Memphis. Sultana, although designed to carry a maximum of
376 passengers, actually embarked over 2,400, most of whom were Union
prisoners of war recently released from captivity. The explosion
and consequent fire killed over 1,800 and ranks as the worst commercial maritime disaster in U.S. history.
- 1914-USRC Miami, under the command of Captain
J. H. Quinan, while on the International Ice Patrol, carried out the
first trials of the new fathometer built by Submarine Signal Company in
- 1949-When a C-47 of the Military Air
Transport Service developed engine trouble and ditched near CGC Sebago
on Weather Station "Dog" some 380 miles from Newfoundland,
a motor self-bailing boat from the cutter immediately picked up the
plane's crew of four. Although the C-47 sank within 12 minutes, there
were no injuries or casualties.
- 1966-After a U.S. Air Force B-57 was
reported overdue the U.S. Coast Guard Eastern Area Commander
commenced an intensive air search. The two-day, large-scale,
over-water search for the missing aircraft, all of which was
coordinated by the Coast Guard, unfortunately yielded negative
- 1980-A Coast Guard HH-3F from AIRSTA Sitka safely rescued all 14
crewman from the F/V Cathy-R after it capsized and sank west of
- 1989-President George H. W. Bush dedicated
the Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence Center East,
otherwise known as C3I, in south Florida. The facility, manned
by Coast Guard and Customs personnel, was designed to give law
enforcement agencies instant access to air and marine smuggling
- 1908-The Revenue Cutter Service became
the primary federal agency in charge of patrolling regattas.
- 1918-CGC Seneca saved 81
survivors from the torpedoed British naval sloop Cowslip while
on convoy route to Gibraltar. Cowslip had been attacked by
three German U-boats.
- 1919-While in command of USS Marietta in the Bay
of Biscay on 28 April 1919, Captain Harry G. Hamlet rescued a crew of 47 persons
from USS James which was sinking at sea. For
his actions that day he was awarded a Gold Lifesaving Medal. His
award citation noted: "This rescue was made
extremely difficult and hazardous owing to high seas, which threatened
to send the two vessels crashing together. In effecting the rescue,
Captain Hamlet displayed admirable seamanship." Captain Hamlet
would later serve as Commandant of the Coast Guard from 1932-1936.
- 1993-Coast Guard PACAREA LEDETs,
operating from the USS Valley Forge and USS Cleveland,
boarded the St. Vincent-flagged 225-foot freighter Sea Chariot
about 300 miles southwest of Panama. The boarding team
discovered bales of cocaine in some of the containers on board and then
seized the vessel. The vessel was escorted through the Panama
Canal to Station Miami Beach where a search of the vessel's containers
turned up 11,233 pounds of cocaine.
- 2001-A LEDET assigned to USS Rodney
M. Davis, with later assistance from CGC Active made
the largest cocaine seizure in maritime history to date when they boarded and
seized the Belizean F/V Svesda Maru 1,500 miles south of San
Diego. The fishing vessel was carrying 26,931 pounds of cocaine.
- 1965-President Lyndon Johnson approved the commitment of Coast Guard
forces to service in Vietnam under the Navy Department's operational
control. The formation for service in Vietnam of Coast Guard
Squadron One (RONONE) was announced.
- 1975-Coast Guard discontinued operations at Con Son Island LORAN
- 1992-CGC Storis' 3-inch/.50
caliber main battery was removed from the cutter. It was the
last 3-inch/.50 caliber gun in service aboard any U.S. warship.
The 3-inch/.50 was a dual-purpose weapon (surface and anti-aircraft)
that had been in U.S. service since the 1930s. It was shipped to
Curtis Bay where is was made inoperable and then loaned to a VFW
- 2014-The Boston-based CGC Escanaba returned
to its homeport after a 36-day patrol in the North Atlantic. While out on patrol,
the medium-endurance cutter focused on fisheries missions in support of Operation Atlantic Venture.
Escanaba's crew conducted 26 law enforcement boardings during
the patrol. Crew members measured fishing gear, inspected daily catch
limits and ensured that vessels' safety gear was in good, working order. The cutter crew also
conducted 46 training evolutions with the crew of an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from
Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod.
- 1789- President George Washington was
inaugurated in New York City as the nation's first President.
His inauguration marked the beginning of U.S. Constitutional government.
- 1798-Congress established the
Department of the Navy on this date in 1798. Nevertheless, the
United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which
the Continental Congress established on 13 October 1775 by authorizing
the procurement, fitting out, manning, and dispatch of two armed
vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British
Army in America. In 1972 Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo
R. Zumwalt authorized the recognition of 13 October 1775 as the
Navy’s official birthday.
- 1818-Congress authorized use of
"land and naval forces of the United States to compel any foreign
ship to depart United States in all cases in which, by the laws of
nations or the treaties of the United States, they ought not to remain
within the United States." This was the basis of neutrality
- 1832- All commissions of naval officers
serving in the Revenue Cutter Service were revoked. All vacancies were
then filled by promotion from within the Service
for the first time.
- 1967- BM1 Edgar A. Culbertson gave his life
attempting to rescue three boys in Duluth, Minnesota. BM1
Culbertson, along with two other members of Station Duluth,
volunteered to venture out on the North Pier at Duluth to rescue three
boys who had been reported to be out on the pier during a severe
storm. Witnesses had seen a wave wash one of the boys away but
two were apparently trapped near the lighthouse at the end of the
pier. Culbertson's Coast Guard Medal citation noted:
"Lashing themselves together, the three men proceeded, with hand
lanterns as the only illumination, to the end of the breakwater.
Despite the high waves, winds gusting to 40 knots, driving rain and 36
degree water, the rescue party diligently searched the breakwater and
light but found no trace of the boys. While returning to the
beach a 20-foot wave swept Petty Officer CULBERTSON off his feet and
hurled him up to and over the breakwater parapet into the sea.
Despite the strenuous efforts of his teammates, Petty Officer
CULBERTSON perished in this gallant rescue attempt." He was
posthumously awarded the Coast Guard Medal. The other two Coast
Guardsmen, BM2 Richard R. Callahan, and FN Ronald C. Prei, were also
awarded the Coast Guard Medal for their heroism.