Daily Chronology of Coast Guard History
- 1844-Captain Alexander Fraser, head of the Revenue Marine Bureau, reported to
Congress on the failure of the service's first steam cutters Spencer
- 1916-Second Lieutenant Russell R. Waesche was designated as the
first Communications Officer for the Coast Guard, an office established
at Coast Guard Headquarters. The office was
renamed Chief, Communications Division, soon thereafter.
- 1944-The Office of Air-Sea Rescue was set up in the Coast Guard. The
Secretary of the Navy, at the request of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
early in 1944, established the Air-Sea Rescue Agency, an
inter-department and inter-agency body, for study and improvement of
rescue work with the Commandant of Coast Guard as its head.
- 1883-The schooner Champion with a crew of two men stranded on
Dick’s Flat, Plymouth Harbor, near Duxbury Pier lighthouse, at about
6 am. The shoal where she struck was about three miles west-southwest
of the Gurnet Point Station (Second District), and the crew of the
station were not sure she was aground until about 10 o’clock. The
life-saving crew therefore arrived on board a little before 2
o’clock in the afternoon. They found one of the men, the captain, at
the pumps and the other bailing from the hatch. The vessel was leaking
badly. The two men on board were wet, cold, and very glad of the
assistance of the life-saving crew. The keeper, at the captain’s
request, took charge. The pumps were manned while another gang went to
work bailing. When she began to right with the incoming tide, they
shifted the booms over and canted her the other way, so as to bring
the leaky seams out of the water to chinse them with oakum and nail
canvas over all to stop the leaks. After doing this and getting most
of the water out, they carried out an anchor into the channel, set all
sail and by heaving hard on the hawser, they brought her on an even
keel. She was hauled off the shoal at about 4 o’clock and got safely
under way. As the weather looked bad, the captain concluded to remain
in port for the night and accordingly anchored.
- 2012-BMCS Terrell Horne, III, CGC Halibut's Executive Petty
Officer and Boarding Officer, was killed in action while carrying out
law enforcement operations near Santa Cruz, CA. The Coast Guard
posthumously awarded BMCS Horne the Coast Guard Medal for his heroism that night. His citation
read, in part: ". . .Shortly after midnight, Senior Chief Petty Officer
Horne deployed in HALIBUT's cutter boat with three other crew members to
investigate a vessel loitering in the area without navigation lights.
Upon approaching the unlit vessel and identifying themselves as law
enforcement officers, the vessel ignored commands to stop and instead
rapidly accelerated directly toward them. The boarding team
immediately maneuvered to avoid the oncoming vessel and fired side arms
in self-defense. When impact with the oncoming vessel became
unavoidable, Senior Chief Petty Officer HORNE, disregarding his own
safety in order to protect a fellow crewmember, forcibly pushed the
coxswain from the helm, directly exposing himself to the oncoming
vessel. The violence of the subsequent collision forcibly ejected
him from the boat, and despite immediate recovery from the water and
application of first aid by his shipmates, he succumbed to the severe
injuries received during the incident. Senior Chief Petty Officer
HORNE demonstrated remarkable initiative, exceptional fortitude and
daring in spite of imminent personal danger. His courage and
devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the
United States Coast Guard."
- 1852-The merchant ship Georgia grounded in a gale off Bonds, New Jersey with
290 persons on board. The life car was used to effect their rescue and all
- 1883-The schooner Pallas with a crew of three men encountered
strong head winds and heavy seas off Cape Cod, MA. About half past 5
in the morning, abreast of Nausett lights, she sprung a leak and
became unmanageable. Being close to the breakers, the crew was fearful
they would be washed overboard as soon as she struck and took to their
boat. Fortunately, they were discovered by the Nausett Station keeper,
pulling vigorously to keep away from the surf. The surfboat was
launched and the three men rescued. They were brought ashore by the
life-saving crew, though not without a thorough drenching because the
station boat was nearly swamped on the bar. The schooner meanwhile
drifted into the surf, three quarters of a mile north of the station
and soon broke up.
- 1982-MSO St. Louis took charge of the response when the Mississippi,
Missouri, and Illinois rivers flooded their banks. In all over
100 Coast Guardsmen took part in the relief efforts that covered an
- 2001- Coast Guard forces, including the cutters Chandeleur
and Farallon as well as aircraft from Air Station Miami and
boat crews from Station Miami Beach rescued 185 Haitian migrants from
the grossly overloaded 31-foot sailboat Simapvivsetz off Old
Rhodes Key, Florida.
- 2013-CGC Polar Star departed Coast Guard Base Seattle for Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze for the first time since
2006 with the task of resupplying the National Science Foundation
Scientific Research Station in McMurdo, Antarctica. During the summer of 2013,
conducted sea trials in the Arctic to test all of the ship's equipment and train the crew prior to
embarking to Antarctica. During the summer trip, Polar Star spent weeks
in the Beaufort Sea north of Barrow, Alaska, testing propulsion machinery, conducting emergency drills, and qualifying
crewmembers in individual watch-stations. The cutter was recently out of a
three-year, $90 million overhaul, part of the Coast Guard's
plan to reactivate the heavy icebreaker.
- 1989: CGC Mesquite ran aground near Keweenaw Point in
Lake Superior. She was deemed damaged beyond repair and was sunk as an
artificial reef. There was no loss of life.
- 1933-Prohibition came to an end on this date when the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
- 1963-CG-40597 completed a record run of 450 miles from Baltimore,
Maryland to Boston, Massachusetts in a running time of 20 hours.
The first of two prototype twin-screw 40-foot plastic utility boats,
CG-40597 was powered by 350 HP Cummins VT-6 diesel engines and had a
trial speed of 29 knots. Endurance at 25 knots was 200 miles.
- 1968-FN Heriberto S. Hernandez, a CGC Point Cypress (WPB
82326) crewman, was killed in action in Vietnam.
- 1917- The French freighter Mont Blanc, loaded with 5,000 tons
of high explosives, collided with the Norwegian steamer Imo in
the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The resulting fire detonated
the munitions, killing 1,635 people and leveling much of Halifax and
its environs. Coast Guardsmen from CGC Morrill landed to provide assistance. This disaster led to the creation
of captains of the ports for the major U.S. ports. The Coast
Guard was tasked with the new duty.
- 1918-Surfman L. E. Ashton of Station No. 305 in Nome,
Alaska, departed his station with a dog sled and team loaded with
medical supplies along with one other surfman on an expedition to assist natives who were suffering
from influenza at Cape Prince of Wales, 160 miles from Nome and at
villages between the two settlements. He arrived at Cape Prince of
Wales on 13 December, where he found 122 natives sick and 157 dead of
the illness. He converted the schoolhouse into a hospital, and the
post office into a dispensary and "otherwise perfected an organization by
means of which he was able to care for all the sick." He
began burying the dead on 11 January and by 20 February when "the
epidemic had spent its force" he returned to his station in Nome,
arriving there on 1 March 1919.
- 1944-Coast Guardsmen participated in the landings at Ormoc,
- 1946-The number of Coast Guardsmen on active duty had been dropped
to 22,156 in order to meet budgetary requirements. Many lifeboat
stations had to be placed in a limited caretaker or inactive status
and some vessels tied up because they lacked complements .
- 1953- Coast Guard search and rescue facilities at the Naval Base in
Bermuda were instrumental in rescuing four survivors and recovering 17
bodies from the Cuban aircraft Cubana 471, which crashed on
take-off from the airport at Kindley Field, Bermuda.
- 1999- CGC Munro intercepted the vessel Wing Fung
Lung loaded with more than 250 Chinese migrants headed for the
Guatemala/El Salvador border. After refusing permission to board, Munro tracked the vessel for three days when
lookouts spotted flares over the ship. When the Munro's
small boat approached, panicked migrants began jumping into the water.
They were pulled to safety and returned to the Wing Fun Lung
while boarding parties finally went aboard the crowded vessel.
Someone apparently tried to scuttle the vessel and the boarding teams
were able to stop the flooding and dewater the engine room. The
threat to the Munro crewmen on the vessel was made worse
because the migrants had not been fed or had water for more than a
day. They were at the point of total rebellion, according to the
Munro's boarding team members. Other boarding teams from
CGC Hamilton then arrived and helped to control the
situation. The vessel was finally taken into Puerto Quetzal,
Guatemala, where the migrants were taken into custody by INS agents.
The master of the vessel was arrested.
- 2013-CGC Mackinaw, loaded with
more than 1,200 Christmas trees as 2013's “Christmas Ship,” arrived at
Navy Pier for a two-day event re-enacting an annual Chicago tradition
dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
- 2013-Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, commenced
Operation Taconite for the winter season. The annual
operation was designed to prevent developing ice from hindering
commercial navigation in the ports of Duluth, Minnesota, Superior,
Wisconsin and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Operation Fall Retrieve, the
annual operation to remove aids to navigation on the Great Lakes in
preparation for the winter icing of the lakes, concluded soon after the
start of 2013's Operation Taconite. Coast Guard Sector Detroit
prepared to launch Operation Coal Shovel, the annual ice-breaking
operation in the eastern Great Lakes region.
- 1793-The first Revenue Cutter Service court martial occurred on this
date aboard the cutter Massachusetts. The offender, Third
Mate Sylvanus Coleman of Nantucket, was summarily dismissed from the
service for "speaking disrespectfully of his superior officers in
public company. . . .insulting Captain John Foster Williams [the
commanding officer] on board, and before company. . . .for keeping bad
women on board the cutter in Boston and setting a bad example to the
men by ordering them to bring the women on board at night and carrying
them ashore in the morning. . . ." and for writing an order in
the name of the commanding officer.
- 1830-President Andrew Jackson announced an ambitious plan to add a
large number of lighthouses to the federal system, with a total of 51
more lighthouse keepers. In explanation, he supported the
practice of offsetting the costs of keeping aids to navigation on the
coasts, lakes and harbors "to render the navigation thereof safe
and easy" since "whatever gives facility and security to
navigation cheapens imports; and all who consume them are alike
interested in whatever produces this effect. The consumer in the
most inland State derives the same advantage . . . that he does who
lives in a maritime State."
- 1941-The Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on
Pearl Harbor and surrounding Army Air Force airfields in Hawaii.
Stationed in Honolulu were the Coast Guard's 327-foot cutter Taney, the
190-foot buoy tender Kukui, two 125-foot patrol craft, Reliance
and Tiger, two 78-foot patrol boats and several smaller craft.
At the time of the attack, Taney lay at Pier Six in Honolulu
Harbor, Reliance and the unarmed Kukui both lay at Pier
Four and Tiger was on patrol along the western shore of Oahu.
All were performing normal duties for a peacetime Sunday. After
the attack commenced Tiger
conducted anti-submarine sweeps outside of Pearl Harbor and Taney
opened fire on Japanese aircraft that appeared over Honolulu Harbor.
- 1968- CGC White Alder sank after
colliding with M/V Helena near White Castle, Louisiana. Seventeen Coast
Guard personnel were killed.
- On 7 December 1973 the first female enlistees were sworn into the
regular U.S. Coast Guard: Y1/c Wanda May Parr and Y2c Margaret A.
Blackman, at a ceremony held in Yorktown, VA. On that date as well CWO
Alice T. Jefferson became the first woman commissioned officer to be
sworn into the regular U.S. Coast Guard. Jefferson was sworn in by
Admiral Chester Bender, Commandant, at a ceremony held at Coast Guard
- 1988- The Coast Guard hosted an international summit between Soviet
President Mikhail Gorbachev, President Ronald Reagan, and
President-elect and then-Vice President George H. W. Bush on Governors
Island on 7 December 1988. The summit occurred after Gorbachev
had addressed the United Nations. In planning his trip to the UN,
Gorbachev requested a meeting with Reagan and the White House selected the Coast Guard base
at Governors Island as a meeting site since it was a secure military
installation in the middle of New York harbor and just minutes away
from the United Nations. The leaders met for lunch at the
LANTAREA commander's [VADM James Irwin] home. The summit was
characterized as "just a luncheon" and the meeting was the
last time President Reagan and Gorbachev would meet during Reagan's
- 2014-CGC Kukui returned from a 46-day law enforcement patrol
where they exercised bilateral agreements and enforced fisheries
regulations across the Pacific. The 50-person crew participated in
several significant regional operations to further enhance U.S. and
international efforts in the protection of the ecologically and
economically valuable fish stocks of the Pacific Ocean and participated
in a number of multi-national operations, including Operation Kuru Kuru,
which was a multinational operation orchestrated by the Pacific Islands Forum
Fisheries Agency. Kukui exercised the Tongan
bilateral agreement by embarking a Tongan ship rider to patrol that
nation's EEZ. Kukui crewmembers spent patrol time searching for
potential EEZ incursions by vessels not transmitting their location or
status in accordance with applicable fisheries regulations. Another leg of their patrol included
domestic fisheries boardings in the American Samoa EEZ and high seas
boardings under the authorities established by the Western Central
Pacific Fisheries Commission.
- 1904-An Executive Order extended the jurisdiction of the Lighthouse
Service to the noncontiguous territory of the Midway Islands.
- 1941-Coast Guardsmen seized all nine Finnish vessels that were
in U.S. ports and placed them in "protective
custody" to "prevent the commission of any acts of
sabotage" on orders from the Navy Department. Twenty-four
hours later the Coast Guard removed the crews from each of the
vessels. This action was ordered soon after the break in
diplomatic relations between Great Britain and Finland. The
following Finish vessels were seized: SS Olivia, at Boston,
Massachusetts; SS Kurikka, SS Jourtanes, and SS Saimaa
at New York, New York; SS Advance, at Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; SS Aagot and SS Marisa Thorden at
Baltimore; SS Aurora, at Newport News, Virginia; and SS Delaware,
at Galveston, Texas.
- 1983- Four cutters arrived off of the island of
Grenada to replace U.S. Navy surface forces conducting surveillance
operations after the U.S. invaded the island earlier that year. The
cutters involved were Cape Gull, Cape Fox, Cape Shoalwater,
and the Sagebrush.
2004-The 738-foot freighter Selendang Ayu
grounded and broke in two December 8, 2004, offshore of Spray Cape,
Unalaska. Fighting extremely adverse conditions, helicopter crews from
Kodiak and the CGC Alex Haley, working with the crew of Haley, rescued all but six
of the sailors. AST3 Aaron Bean earned the Meritorious Service
Medal and AMT3 Gregory Gibbons the Distinguished Flying Cross.
During the rescue high waves caused the crash of a Coast Guard HH-60J.
- 1899-A Treasury Order entrusted the Bureau of Navigation "with
the duty of examining and disposing of petitions for the remission of
fines, penalties, and forfeitures under the laws relating to
navigation, vessels, steamboat-inspection, and passengers."
- 1959- At the request of the Russian Embassy, the crew of a US Coast
Guard UF-1 amphibious aircraft removed an ill Russian seaman from the
merchant ship Jana in the Bering Sea. The plane, with an
interpreter and a doctor aboard, landed in a blinding snow storm at
Dutch Harbor, where the patient was transferred to a hospital.
- 1981-The icebreaker CGC Westwind departed her homeport of
Milwaukee for the Caribbean. She was assigned to relieve a
high-endurance cutter on a counter-drug patrol.
- 1996- Two Coast Guard HH-60 helicopters with support from an HC-130,
all from AIRSTA Elizabeth City, rescued the seven crewmembers of the
67-year old schooner Alexandria when she went down in a fierce
storm 50 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras.
- 1905-"To evaluate its use in lighthouse work, radio equipment
was installed experimentally on Nantucket Lightship in August of 1901.
On December 10, 1905, while riding out a severe gale, Lightship No.
58 on the Nantucket Shoals Station sprang a serious leak. There
being no recognized radio distress signal at that time, the operator
could only repeatedly spell out the word "help". Although no
reply was received Newport Navy station (radio) intercepted the call
and passed it on to the proper authorities. The lightship tender Azalea
was dispatched to the assistance of Lightship No. 58, and upon
arrival at the scene passed a towline. The long tow to a safe harbor
began, but after a few hours it was quite evident that Lightship
No. 58 was sinking. Azalea took off her crew of thirteen
men only minutes before she sank. This pioneer use of radio had indeed
proved Its worth in rescue operations."
- 1941-Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.
- 1981-A Coast Guard HH-52A landed on CGC Dependable's flight
deck, marking the 5,000th helicopter landing on board the cutter.
According to Coast Guard aviation records, this was the most helicopter landings
ever recorded on board a cutter. The landing occurred off Dauphin
Island in the Gulf of Mexico.
- 1993- Secretary of Transportation Andrew H. Card, Jr., awarded the
military members of the Coast Guard the Humanitarian Service Medal and
the civilian employees the Coast Guard Public Service Commendation for
their services during the Haitian migrant crisis from October 1991
through November 1992. During that period, a flotilla of over 27
Coast Guard cutters rescued 35,000 Haitian migrants from hundreds of
overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels.
- 1881-Six men landed from a boat on Race Point, Cape Cod, and were
soon after found, wet, chilled, and much exhausted, by the
patrolman from Station No. 6, Second District. He learned that they
were the captain and crew of the Canadian schooner J .A. Hatfield
that had been sunk in a collision with an unknown bark the previous night. The patrolman conducted them to the light keeper's dwelling
- 2014-CGC Mellon returned to
Seattle following a seven-week deployment in the Eastern
Pacific Ocean after interdicting nearly 700 pounds of cocaine seized
from seagoing drug smugglers. The drugs, recovered during a single bust off the coast of
Central America, were worth an estimated street value of $18.6 million. Three suspects were detained
during the operation. The more than 150-person crew of Mellon left Seattle on 25 October
to conduct anti-narcotics and search and rescue missions along the
coast of Mexico and Central America. Their efforts resulted in six law
enforcement boardings and the disruption of an additional 1,900 pounds
of cocaine shipments headed for the U.S. Just as Mellon began its journey homeward on 24 November 2014, the
cutter was diverted to lead search and rescue operations in the case of
a missing U.S. sailor. The sailing vessel Seven Sisters was found capsized off the
coast of Mexico with no crew present after the vessel was reported as
overdue to the port of Acapulco. Over the course of nearly a week, Mellon launched its attached
MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and crew up to four times a day and covered
more than 26,000 square miles of ocean while searching for the lost
sailor. Extra lookout watches were set
aboard the cutter in hopes of finding him, but the case was suspended
after the search efforts proved unsuccessful. Another search and rescue operation involved a few unlikely
survivors. About 300 miles off the coast of Guatemala, Mellon’s crew
spotted four sea turtles and a dolphin entangled in more than 100 feet
of abandoned fishing line. A small crew launched one of the small boats
to rescue the animals and remove the debris from the water. After nearly
an hour of cutting the animals free, they were released and appeared to
- 1876-The first ever examination for Revenue Cutter cadets was held in Washington,
- 1965-Division 13, Coast Guard Squadron One (RONONE) was established
for service in Vietnam.
- 1994-CGC Munro responded to a mayday from the
Greek-registered 798-foot container ship Hyundai Seattle
approximately 550 nautical miles south of Adak, Alaska. The
freighter reported an engine room fire that left the ship dead in the
water. An HH-65 attached to the cutter hoisted all 27 crewmen to
safety before the freighter
- 1965-The Treasury Department received "official
word" to commence a project to build a number of LORAN stations
throughout Southeast Asia in support of the escalating U.S. efforts
in the Vietnam War. The LORAN project was code-named "Tight
- 2014-Coast Guard search and rescue crews
were relieved by Republic of Korea assets in their
search for 26 crewmembers from the fishing vessel 501 Oryong that
capsized 30 November 2014, near Chukotka, Russia, in the Bering Sea.
The Coast Guard completed more than
24 searches covering more than 4,576 square miles utilizing two
cutters, two helicopters, and multiple airplanes. Coast Guard crews
will continue to partner with the Republic of Korea to provide
search and rescue planning support. Two Republic of Korea Navy P-3 Orion
aircraft joined the search for survivors on 6 December 2014. The
Republic of Korea vessel Sam-Bong arrived at the 501 Oryong's last
known position and began their investigation. The Coast Guard offered to assist the
Kamchatka Border Guard Directorate and the Republic of Korea with
their search for survivors and deployed the following assets: CGCs
Munro, Alex Haley, HC-130s from Air Station Kodiak and two SAR
planners from Juneau deployed to Anchorage to work with South Korean
Navy P-3 aircrews. The Republic of Korea reported the
501 Oryong, with 60 crewmembers, was hauling in its catch when a
wave hit and flooded the vessel's storage chambers with seawater.
Good Samaritans rescued eight
crewmembers, but one died of complications, 26 bodies were
recovered, and 26 crewmembers were reported missing.
- 1846-Revenue Captain Alexander Fraser protested in a report to
Congress against "unjust imputations" made against the
Service for its involvement in the failure of the first steam cutters.
He also requested the authority to employ medical aid on cutters and
to provide pensions for personnel disabled in service.
- 1854-Congress authorized the appointment of the first lifeboat station
keepers at $200 per year each and superintendents for Long Island and
New Jersey serving under Secretary of Treasury who "may also
establish such stations at such lighthouses, as, in his judgment, he
shall deem best."
- 1911-On 14 December 1911 President William Howard Taft proclaimed
the Convention entered into between the United States, Great Britain,
Japan and Russia for the preservation of the fur seal and the sea otter.
As this treaty prohibited entirely the killing of seals, and sea otters,
on the part of the four nations concerned, in the North Pacific Ocean
and Bering Sea, it was necessary that the movements of the Revenue
Cutter fleet that enforced the agreement "correspond generally" to the
progress of the seal herd in its annual northern migration. During
the 1912 season the following cutters were assigned: Rush, Manning,
McCulloch and Tahoma. This was the first regular
patrol in enforcement of the regulations issued pursuant to the
International Convention proclaimed on 14 December 1911. Prior to
that date Revenue Cutter vessels enforced the regulations of the Paris
Tribunal of arbitration decreed 15 August 1893 for the preservation of
the fur seal. The patrol of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea
was first inaugurated in 1895 for the enforcement of the provisions of
the Act of Congress approved 6 April 1894. The cutters Rush,
Bear, Corwin, Grant and Perry were the first cutters
assigned to carry out this patrol which commenced in 1895.
- 1996: The 735-foot M/V Bright Field collided with the New
Orleans Riverwalk, causing substantial damage and injuring over 100
people. Coast Guard forces responded.
- 1835-The superintendent of the lighthouse system wrote to Winslow
Lewis, "I perceive by a Mobile paper which I received this
morning that the Mobile Point light has been fitted by you as a
revolving light" similar to the nearby Pensacola lighthouse.
"I am very sorry that you have done so." Lewis was a
contractor who -- almost by himself -- virtually controlled the
administration of the lighthouse system. The incident helped
cause a Congressional investigation that ultimately created a modern
lighthouse system in this country.
- 1839-Near Gloucester, Massachusetts, a storm from the southeast
caught and dragged ashore or drove to sea over fifty vessels. An
eyewitness wrote: "From one of the beach to the other, nothing
could be seen but pieces of broken wrecks; planks and spars...ropes
and sails...flour, fish, lumber...soaked and broken..." The
local fishermen manned two boats, the Custom House boat and the newly
launched Revenue Cutter Van Buren and "fearlessly risked
their lives for the safety of their fellow creatures" and brought
many safely to shore.
- 1943-Coast Guardsmen participated in the landings made on Arawe
Peninsula, New Britain.
- 1944-Coast Guardsmen participated in the landings made on Mindoro,
- 1976: The Liberian-flagged 644-foot tanker Argo Merchant,
with 7.5 million gallons of oil on board, grounded on a shoal 28 miles
southeast of Nantucket. Coast Guard helicopters from AIRSTA Cape Cod
rescued her 38-man crew. CGCs Sherman and Vigilant
responded, along with other vessels, but heavy weather prevented the
containment of the spill. The tanker broke in two on 21
- 1831-Secretary of the Treasury John McLane ordered Revenue cutters to
conduct "winter cruises." The USRC Gallatin
became the first cutter "directly authorized by the government to
assist mariners in distress."
- 1960- A United Airlines DC-8 with 83 passengers on board collided
with a TWA Super Constellation carrying 42 in the New York City area.
Coast Guard helicopters, working with the aircraft of the Army, Navy
and New York Police Department, transported the injured passengers
from the Constellation's wreck on Staten Island to a nearby hospital.
Coast Guard vessels also searched the New York harbor area. The
debris they picked up was used by the Civil Aeronautics Board in its
determination of the cause of the mishap.
- 1897-The Overland Expedition, consisting of three officers from the
Revenue Cutter Service, departed from the cutter Bear off
Nunivak Island to rescue 300 whalers trapped in the ice at Point
Barrow, Alaska. The rescuers were First Lieutenant D. H. Jarvis,
Second Lieutenant E. P. Bertholf (later commandant), and Surgeon S.
J. Call. The rescuers had to travel over 1,000 miles overland to
reach the whalers.
- 1903-Life-Saving Service personnel from Kill Devil Hills Life-Saving
Station helped carry materials to the launch site for the first
successful heavier-than-air aircraft flight by the Wright Brothers at
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and then assisted the brothers in their
flights that day. The life-savers were John T. Daniels, W.S. Dough and
- 1942-CGC Natsek, part of the Greenland Patrol, disappeared
in Belle Isle Strait while on patrol. There were no survivors among
her 24-man crew. It was thought
that she capsized due to severe icing.
- 1942-The Navy credited CGC Ingham with attacking and
sinking the submerged U-626 south of Greenland.
- 1951-President Harry Truman presented the Collier Trophy to the
Coast Guard, the Department of Defense and the "helicopter
industry" in a joint award, citing "outstanding development
and use of rotary-winged aircraft for air rescue operations."
Coast Guard Commandant VADM Merlin O'Neill accepted the trophy for the
- 2014-President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raśl
Castro announced the beginning of a process of normalizing relations
between the two countries. The Coast Guard announced its statement
regarding the Cuba policy changes due to this change the following day, 18 December 2014.
- 1912-The Lighthouse Service
suffered its first gas-powered buoy accident when one exploded
during maintenance. The explosion killed a machinist, John A.
Dunbar, who was a member of the crew of the Lighthouse Tender
- 2014-The Coast Guard issued the following statement
regarding "The Coast Guard on Cuba Policy Changes" announced by
President Barack Obama on 17 December 2014: "Coast Guard missions and operations in the
Southeast remain unchanged. The Coast Guard strongly
discourages attempts to illegally enter the country by
taking to the sea. These trips are extremely dangerous.
Individuals located at sea may be returned to Cuba."
- 1881-While the head keeper and six men of his crew were conducting
drills away from their Gurnet Point, Massachusetts, Life-Saving
Station, the surfman who remained in charge at the station saw a
schooner standing inside of Brown’s Island Shoals. He realized
that unless the vessel was warned she would go aground. So he
rowed out to the schooner in a small boat and piloted her clear.
She proved to be the schooner Milton and had mistaken the
channel entrance to Plymouth Harbor.
- 2014-CGC Decisive returned to its homeport in Pascagoula, Mississippi,
following a six-week patrol in the Caribbean Sea supporting the Joint
Interagency Task Force-South. During the deployment, the 70-member crew of
Decisive was primarily
responsible for conducting counter drug operations in support of U.S.
and international laws. Decisive worked directly with federal and international partners at
JIATF-S and the 7th Coast Guard District to combat transnational organized crime networks operating
in the Caribbean Basin. Decisive's efforts directly contributed to the prevention of more
than 4,100 pounds of contraband from reaching American shores. During
39-day deployment, the cutter's crew also
conducted a professional exchange with members of the Honduran Navy.
These interdictions were part of Operation Martillo, an international
operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land
and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense and the
Department of Homeland Security, as well as Western Hemisphere and
European partner nation agencies, to counter illicit trafficking.
- 2015-CGC Escanaba returned to its homeport in
Boston following a successful 52-day deployment in the
Eastern Pacific Ocean. During the patrol, Escanaba steamed more than
11,200 miles, successfully transited the Panama Canal for the
first time in more than 10 years, and interdicted 1,009 kilograms
of cocaine, two vessels, and five narcotic smuggling suspects.
Escanaba's crew worked in partnership with an MH-65
Dolphin helicopter crew from the Coast Guard's Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, based out of
Jacksonville, Florida, to pursue and conduct boardings of eight
vessels in five cases.
- 1934-Coast Guard pilot CDR Elmer F. Stone set the world record for
amphibian airplane speed. Over a measured three-kilometer course
at Langley Field CDR Stone attained a maximum speed of 196.89 miles an
hour and an average speed of 191.17 while flying a Grumman JF-2 "Duck"
amphibian, besting the previous record set by Alexander P. De Severesky
the previous year.
- 1943-CGC Bodega grounded off the Canal Zone. No lives were
- 1991- On 20 December 1991, the United Nations adopted General
Assembly Resolutions (UNGAs) 44-225, 45-197, and 46-215, thereby
establishing a worldwide moratorium on all high seas drift net fishing
that was to be in effect by 31 December 1992.
- 2013-CGC Alert returned to its homeport of Astoria, Oregon,
following an 81-day deployment. While away Alert covered more than 12,000 miles,
conducting a counter-drug enforcement patrol in the
Eastern Pacific and a rigorous training assessment by the Afloat
Training Group in Everett, Washington. Alert's crew conducted law enforcement operations off
the coast of Central America in early October, 2013. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and a
fast response boat crew conducted multiple at sea boardings from Alert, disrupting more than 4,000 pounds of illegal drug shipments.
Additionally, Alert's crew rescued six Ecuadorian fishermen who had
spent a week stranded adrift on the open ocean. The crew participated in several community relations events, while
taking time to resupply the cutter and provide crew rest. While on a
port call in Golfito, Costa Rica, Alert's crew competed against
Costa Rican Coast Guard crewmembers in a soccer tournament. In Puerto
Vallarta, Mexico, Alert's crew helped complete a restoration and
painting project for a local park. After two months of conducting maritime law enforcement and search
and rescue operations, Alert traveled to Everett to complete three weeks
of required training. Every 18 months, Coast Guard cutters undergo
Tailored Ships Training Availability to ensure crew proficiency and
readiness. Experienced Coast Guard and Navy inspectors evaluated Alert's
ability to respond to situations involving weapons proficiency,
seamanship, navigation, damage control, emergency medical treatment and
engineering casualty response. Alert successfully completed 118 drills
and exercises with an impressive overall score of 96-percent, earning
the coveted "Battle E" award for operational excellence in all mission
areas. As per tradition, Alert flew a broom from its port yardarm,
signifying a "clean sweep" of certification in all mission areas.
- 1907-The Commandant, Captain Worth G. Ross, USRCS, by letter,
advised the Chamber of Commerce of Baltimore, Boston and Philadelphia,
the New York Maritime Exchange and the Navy's Chief Bureau of Equipment that wireless telegraph
sets had been installed on the following
Revenue cutters operating on the Atlantic coast and would use the
following call letters: USRC Algonquin: RCA; USRC Gresham: RCG; USRC
Mohawk: RCM; USRC Onondaga: RCO & USRC Seminole: RCS.
- 1936-Executive Order No. 7521 authorized ice breaking operations by the Coast Guard.
- 1960- The tanker Pine Ridge, with 37 crewmen on board,
reported it was breaking in two about 120 miles off Cape Hatteras,
North Carolina. Immediately, the Coast Guard dispatched aircraft
and vessels to the scene and alerted nearby US Navy and merchant
vessels. After the arrival of a Coast Guard UF-2G amphibian
aircraft, the bow section of the Pine Ridge capsized, throwing
some members of the crew overboard; the stern section, however,
remained afloat and upright. Mountainous seas rebuffed every
attempt of the tanker Artemis to rescue the seamen in the
water. Life rafts and emergency equipment, meanwhile, were
airdropped, and the helicopters from the aircraft carrier Valley
Forge successfully removed the 28 survivors from the still
floating stern section. Of the bow section and the 9 missing
crewmen, only debris and lifejackets were found, despite a widespread
air and surface search.
- 1971-The last two cutters of Coast Guard Squadron Three (RONTHREE)
in service in Vietnamese waters during the war,
CGC Cook Inlet (WHEC 384) and CGC Castle Rock (WHEC 383) were
decommissioned and transferred to the South Vietnamese Navy.
- 1819-The Revenue cutter Dallas seized a vessel laden with
lumber that had been unlawfully cut from public land in what was one of the
first, if not the very first, recorded instances of a revenue cutter enforcing an environmental
- 1837-Congress authorized President "to cause any suitable
number of public vessels, adapted to the purpose, to cruise upon the
coast, in the severe portion of the season, and to afford aid to
distressed navigators." This was the first statute authorizing activities in
the field of maritime safety, thus interjecting the national
government into the field of lifesaving for the first time. Although
revenue cutters were specifically mentioned, the performance of this
duty was imposed primarily upon the Revenue Marine Service and quickly
became one of its major activities.
- 1904-Near Oak Island and Fire Island, New York the American schooner
Frank W. McCullough ran aground on Fire Island Bar, 2 miles
from the former station and 4 from the latter, at about 9 am. The Oak
Island crew reached the vessel at 10:30 am and the Fire Island crew a
half hour later. They found her pounding heavily and leaking badly.
They manned the pumps and assisted the crew in throwing overboard the
cargo of lumber; but on the flood tide the sea began to break over the
wreck and the were obliged to give up for fear of being washed
overboard. The Fire Island surfboat filled in the seaway and
foundered. At midnight the sea moderated and all hands, 14 surfmen and
5 of schooner crew, abandoned the wreck in the Oak Island surfboat and
at 2 a.m. reached the shore. The vessel was lost.
- 2014-CGC Legare returned to its
homeport of Portsmouth, Virginia following a 52-day patrol through the Caribbean and into the eastern
Pacific Ocean. During their patrol, Legare's crew transited through the Panama Canal
and coordinated with multiple countries in Central and South America,
along with partner agencies to stem the flow of illegal drugs into the
United States. The unified effort resulted in the interdiction of multiple suspected
drug smugglers and vessels transporting approximately 1200 kilograms, or
approximately 2,645 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated estimated
street value of $40 million.
- 1955- A Coast Guard helicopter was the first rescue unit to reach
a flood disaster scene
in Yuba, California. Its crew hoisted 138 persons
to safety within 12 hours. The first 58 were made possible because of
the light from a small handheld searchlight from positions of peril among
chimneys, television antennas, and trees. In all, the Coast Guard
assisted Federal, state, and local agencies in saving over 500 persons
by helicopters and boats.
- 1944- Allied forces liberated and occupied
Palompon and Leyte in the Philippines.
- 1998- Coast Guard helicopters from Air Station Barbers Point rescued
balloonists Richard Branson, a British billionaire, American millionaire Steve Fossett, and
Per Lindstrand when bad weather forced them to ditch their balloon off
Hawaii during their attempt to be the first balloonists to circle the
- 1943-Landings at Cape Gloucester were conducted
by Coast Guard-manned LSTs 18, 22, 66, 67, 68,
168, 202, 204, and 206. The LST-22
shot down a Japanese "Val" dive bomber while LST-66
was officially credited with downing three enemy aircraft. Two
of her crew were killed by near misses. LST-67 brought
down one Japanese dive bomber while LST-204 shot down two and
the gunners aboard LST-68 claimed another. The LST-202
claimed three enemy planes shot down.
- 2004-Following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra,
a massive tsunami and tremors struck Indonesia and southern Thailand, killing over 104,000 people in Indonesia and
over 5,000 in Thailand. CGC Munro, deployed as part
of Expeditionary Strike Group 5 (ESG-5), along with the other units in
the Group, responded. The cutter shuttled more than 80 tons of
humanitarian relief supplies from Singapore to USS Bonhomme
Richard (LHD-6), also part of ESG-5, for distribution to the
victims of the tsunami.
- 1968-In October 1968, the United States Air Force requested
additional LORAN-C coverage in Southeast Asia and by 27 December 1968
the Coast Guard had received authorization to proceed with the
project. This led to the construction a LORAN station at Tan My,
South Vietnam, that supplemented the other LORAN stations in Southeast
Asia first established in 1966 under an operation code-named Tight
- 1977-The Coast Guard awarded Tacoma Boat-building Company, Inc., of
Tacoma, Washington, a $110,207,245 contract for the detail design and
construction of four 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutters.
- 2012-Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Anchorage
first received contact from the crew of the tug Aiviq, which was towing
MODU Kulluk, a Royal Dutch Shell Company ice-strengthened oil drilling
barge, back to its winter port of Seattle. In extremely heavy seas,
the tow line parted and Aiviq requested Coast Guard assistance. CGC
Alex Haley was diverted from its patrol and, after Aiviq experienced
total engine failure, attempted to take both the rig and Aiviq under
tow. The line parted and fouled Haley’s port propeller, forcing
the cutter to return to Kodiak for repairs. CGCs Hickory and
SPAR were dispatched to provide further assistance while Royal Dutch Shell sent
three additional tugs to the scene. Coast Guard aircraft rescued the
rig’s 18-man crew safely on 29 December and delivered spare engine parts to
Despite these efforts Kulluk went aground at Oceans Bay, Alaska, on 31 December 2012. The rig
was later refloated and towed to Unalaska. No injuries or pollution incidents were
reported and ultimately Kulluk was scrapped.
- 1835-The "Dade Battle" occurred when Seminole Indians
ambushed and killed Major Francis Langhorne Dade and his Army
command while they were on the march on Fort King Road from Fort
Brooke to reinforce the troops at Fort King (Ocala). This battle
was the immediate cause of the Second Seminole War, a war in which
the Revenue Cutter Service played an important role.
- 1857-The light was first illuminated in the Cape Flattery
Lighthouse, located on Tatoosh Island at the entrance to the Straits
of Juan de Fuca, Washington. "Because of Indian trouble it was
necessary to build a blockhouse on Tatoosh Island before even
commencing the construction of the lighthouse. Twenty muskets were
stored in the blockhouse, and then the lighthouse work began."
- 1903-An Executive Order extended the jurisdiction of the Lighthouse
Service to the non-contiguous territory of the Hawaiian Islands.
- 2014-CGC Tahoma returned safely to its homeport of Kittery,
Maine after a 55-day patrol conducting operations and training in the
Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. Tahoma's law enforcement
teams conducted boardings of commercial fishing vessels to inspect
safety gear and enforce marine resource management to ensure sustainable
fisheries in the North Atlantic. On 1 December 2014 Tahoma's crew assisted the disabled
F/V Madison Kate following an engine casualty. Tahoma's crew put
the vessel in tow and safety and transferred it to a Coast Guard Station
Brant Point motor life boat.
- 1897-Congress prohibited the killing of fur seals in the waters of the
North Pacific Ocean. The Revenue Cutter Service was tasked with
enforcing the law.
- 1903-An Executive Order extended the jurisdiction of the Lighthouse
Service to Guantanamo, Cuba.
- 1998- The 578-foot cargo vessel Violetta caught fire in the
Houston ship channel. Twenty-three of her crew were rescued.
CGC Point Spencer spent several days fighting the fire on
board the vessel.
- 1876-The British ship Circassian was destroyed off
Bridgehampton, Long Island, following a successful rescue of 49
persons on December 11 by the Life-Saving Service. During later
salvage operations in a storm the ship drifted out of the sand,
resulting in the loss of 28 of its salvage crew including 12
- 1944-Coast Guard-manned USS FS-367 rescued survivors from USS
Maripopsa at San Jose, Mindoro, Philippine Islands.
- 1958- The 590-foot tanker African Queen ran aground and split
in two 10 miles off Ocean City, Maryland. Within two hours 15
helicopters from the nearby Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps bases
evacuated all 47 crewmen successfully. The Coast Guard Rescue
Coordination Center at New York coordinated the operations.
- 1997- The 493-foot freighter Merchant Patriot began taking on
water in stormy seas. Coast Guard air assets from AIRSTA
Clearwater arrived on scene and, along with Air Force units, rescued
the ship's captain and her 27 crewmen. The vessel, however,
remained afloat and was later towed to Freeport, Bahamas.
- 1881-At 4 a.m. the patrolman from Station No. 34, Fourth District,
New Jersey, discovered a vessel ashore on the south bar at
Townsend’s Inlet, NJ about three miles south of the station and a
mile offshore. He reported at the station at once and the vessel was
boarded by the life-saving crew within an hour and a half. She proved
to be the schooner Joseph F. Baker with a crew of eight
persons. After endeavoring to work the vessel off with her sails, the
keeper made preparations to run an anchor and heave her off. By this
time a wrecking vessel came alongside, and her captain arranged with
the master of Baker to take his vessel off. The life-saving
crew, which had meantime been joined by the keepers of Station 33 and
35, finding they could be of no further service, left the vessel,
taking ashore dispatches for the captain. A steamer towed the vessel
off the bar
- 1891-The Act of 1894 that created the office of Captain
Commandant of the Revenue Cutter Service also had a provision that
created the office of Engineer-in-Chief. Captain Russell John W. Collins, USRCS was the first RCS
Engineer-in-Chief, being appointed to that position on 31 December
- 1952- Sinbad, the canine-mascot of the cutter
during World War II, passed away at his last duty station, the
Barnegat Lifeboat Station, at the ripe old age of 15. He served
on board the cutter throughout World War II and earned his way into
Coast Guard legend with his shipboard and liberty antics. To
date he is the most decorated mascot to have ever served in the Coast
- 1980- The 14 remaining LORAN-A stations closed down at midnight,
ending Loran-A coverage, which began during World War II.
- 1985-Vice President George Bush paid an official visit to the
officers and crew of CGC Steadfast while the cutter was in
Nassau, Bahamas. Accompanied by RADM Richard P. Cueroni,
commander, 7th District and various other U.S. and Bahamian officials,
the vice president officiated at an awards and wreath-laying ceremony
in honor of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System and the
joint U.S. Bahamian operations.
- 2014-Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center
received notification the morning of 31 December 2014 that the tour boat,
with 55 people on board was taking on water in the engine room near
Kihei. A Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Maui was
diverted to the scene where once on scene, two crewmembers from the RBM went aboard the
Nai'a with a P6 pump and a damage control kit and successfully dewatered
the port engine room. The RBM then safely towed the Mahana Nai'a to Pier 47 at