Cutter Accidents

Please note that the following table was transcribed from a document originally generated by the Cutter Operations Division in 1990 (see below for updates and corrections to the original document):


Air Partridge Nov 1947 Towing collision Moderate
Air Peacock Nov 1947 Towing collision Moderate
Air Tanger Nov 1947 Towing collision Moderate
Eastwind 19 Jan 1949 Collision Major, 13 Dead
White Holly 27 Aug 1949 Collision Minor
Macoma 28 Mar 1950 Grounded Total loss
Macoma (2nd) 08 May 1952 Grounded Minor
Sweetbriar 11 July 1953 Holed on rock Moderate
Linden 10 Feb 1955 Grounded Minor
Iris 19 Oct 1957 Struck submerged object Moderate
Iroquois 06 Mar 1958*** (incorrect date; see below) Grounded Major
Ironwood 15 Oct 1958 Grounded Minor
Mallow 04 Dec 1959 Collision Minor
General Greene 07 Mar 1960 Grounded Moderate
Gentian 09 Nov 1961 Collision Moderate
Papaw 31 Jan 1963 Collision Moderate
Mesquite 10 Apr 1964 Grounded Moderate
Ingham 10 May 1965 Fire Moderate
Point Glass 26 May 1965 Collision Minor
Fir 15 Jul 1965 Grounded Minor
Cape Carter 19 Jul 1965 Collision Moderate
Owasco 24 Aug 1965 Grounded Moderate
Walnut 01 Sep 1965 Collision Minor
Point Thatcher 04 Oct 1966 Struck submerged object Major
Arbutus 15 Jul 1966 Grounded Minor
Chautauqua 20 Jan 1967 Fire Moderate
Eagle Jan 1967 Collision Major
Resolute 10 Jan 1968 Collision Moderate
Avoyel 10 Jan 1968 Collision Moderate
Barataria 24 Mar 1968 Explosion Moderate
Bittersweet 12 Apr 1968 Struck submerged object Moderate
Sauk 08 Oct 1968 Grounded Major
Loganberry 03 Dec 1968 Struck submerged object Total loss [incorrect--raised & repaired]
White Alder 07 Dec 1968 Collision Sank, 17 Dead
Escanaba Jan 1969 Motor burnt out Adrift, minor
Point Verde 13 Jan 1969 Fire Minor
Acacia 12 Mar 1969 Collision Minor
Southwind 15 Aug 1969 Grounded Minor
Storis 07 Sep 1969 Holed by ice Moderate
Courier 12 Jun 1970 Collision Minor
Point Brower 13 Jul 1970 Capsized Moderate
Kukui 24 Jul 1970 Collision Minor
Spar 29 Jan 1971 Grounded Minor
Duane 03 Aug 1971 Grounded Minor
Hornbeam 24 May 1972 Collision Major
Minnetonka 20 Jun 1972 Heater Explosion Moderate
Eagle Jun 1972 Collision Substantial
Edisto 05 Oct 1972 Collision Major
Jarvis 15 Nov 1972 Grounded Major
Sweetgum 13 April 1973 Grounded Minor
Clover 26 May 1975 Grounded Moderate
Basswood 18 Oct 1975 Grounded Minor
Ingham 04 Jun 1974 Collision Minor
Mariposa 21 Nov 1976 Grounded Moderate
Duane 25 Jul 1977 Shaft Damaged Minor
Dallas 10 Aug 1977 Flooding Moderate
Westwind 13 Dec 1977 Grounding Minor
Basswood 24 Jan 1978 Grounding Moderate
Sagebrush 02 May 1978 Grounding Moderate
Sedge 14 Aug 1978 Collision Moderate
Confidence 14 Aug 1978 Collision Moderate
Mahoning 12 Sep 1978 Collision Minor
Cuyahoga 20 Oct 1978 Collision Total Loss, 11 Dead
Westwind 01 Feb 1979 Collision Minor
Citrus 27 Feb 1979 Struck submerged object Major
Blackthorn 28 Jan 1980 Collision Sank, 23 dead
Iris 24 Apr 1980 Fire Minor
Jarvis 07 Oct 1980 Collision Moderate
Durable 04 Dec 1980 Fire Minor
Polar Sea 28 Jan 1982 Grounded*****(Actually collision--see below) Moderate
Gallatin 18 Jul 1982 Grounded Minor
Snohomish 13 Jan 1984 Struck submerged object Moderate
Dallas 24 Jun 1984 Grounded Moderate
White Sage 15 Dec 1985 Collision Moderate
Chase 08 May 1985 Fire Minor
Point Franklin 15 Dec 1986 Grounded Minor
Point Steele 31 Mar 1987 Grounded (?) Minor
Vigorous 1 Jun 1989 Fire Minor
Mesquite 04 Dec 1989 Grounded Total loss
Naushon 05 Dec 1989 Grounded Minor
Sledge 09 Jan 1990 Grounded Moderate
Planetree 25 Jan 1990 Grounded Undetermined



(the following list was compiled from various sources, primarily from emails received from former crew, and was not part of the table transcribed above):

  • ***The [above] report was in error.  Actual date the Iroquois grounded was 29 June 1954.
  • 1955: CGC Storis ran aground in the Wrangell Narrows, near Petersburg, Alaska.  She was then sent to Seattle for major repairs.
  • The CGC Spar ran aground, punching a small hole in her hull in the forward magazine.  Spar was ordered to sail to the Baltimore, MD, shipyard for repairs.  The hole was bout the size of 1 or 2 fingers (a lot of us inserted our fingers while the Buoy Tender was up on the ways!) as well as a dent in the hull!
  • 7 March 1960 the Acushnet collided with the General Greene when the Acushnet attempted to rescue and prevent the General Greene from going aground.  This caused a four foot gash on her port side and a hole under her bow caused by its own anchor coming through her hull after the anchor had been lowered to prevent the Acushnet from going aground while trying to get rescue lines to the General Greene.
  • The WAL 505 Relief sank after the SS Green Bay rammed her while the former was on station on 24 June 1960 at the entrance of Ambrose Channel.
  • The Spar sank to her main deck in Narragansett Bay in 1962 after striking the bottom just north of Prudence Island, Rhode Island.
  • The Winnebago went aground on Tripod Reef in the west corridor at the entrance of Pearl Harbor at 2310 hours on 26 March 1962.  This was ". . . due to a navigation error by a junior officer.  With the assistance of U.S. Navy tugs, she was eventually refloated and returned to service."
  • In March 1963 the Tamaroa sank while in drydock at Bushey's Red Hook, Brooklyn.   She was raised, repaired, and returned to service.
  • "[Confidence; WMEC-619]. . .while on maneuvers in the Gulf of Alaska near Kodiak we attempted to set an HH-52A down on our flight deck during rough seas.  Two seamen secured one of the choppers rails and as the ship rolled the pilot attempted to pull up and flipped over the side of the ship and landed upside down in the water.  Inflatable rafts were used to keep her afloat and the Citrus came out to help a Navy ship raise her.  No damage to the Connie but the 52A was a mess."
  • In the summer of 1967 the Staten Island "bounced on the bottom while traveling west from Prudhoe Bay after completing a survey of the area. . .The swells were five foot at the time and soundings for that area were extremely scarce.  The charts for that area were still listed as 'classified.'  The damage sustained was not major."
  • "On July 6, 1967, USCGC Yakutat WHEC-380 collided with the USN tanker Cimarron during refueling in the waters off Viet Nam, split 14 frames, returned to Subic Bay for repairs."
  • "In 1969 the Evergreen had a major engine room fire."
  • In 1969 a fire broke out in the transformer vault area amidships, near the EM shop, on board the Staten Island while moored in Seattle.  "The compartment was locked and the duty EM did not have a key.  The fire spread into the cork insulation on the hull.  This created a smoky mess.  The Seattle Fire Department had to use phosphors rings to cut through the deck, to attack the fire.  I do not believe there were any major injuries, but he fire did quite a bit of damage."
  • "I served aboard the Edisto on Deepfreeze 69-70, it should be noted that while breaking pack ice we broke our rudder shaft and also lost our port screw's fairwater [sic].  We were then sent to a floating drydock [for] roughly a month in Wellington, N.Z., and had the rudder stock flown in from Seattle."
  • "The Cape Fairweather was hit by a rogue wave that damaged the starboard side of the superstructure, blew out a porthole and smashed the glass in another porthole."
  • "1971 Operation Market Time: While in a yard period at [Singapore] a sea chest valve on board the CGC Castle Rock was improperly reinstalled, which effectively flooded an entire engine room.  Two months for repairs."
  • "In early 1971 the Staten Island struck a submerged uncharted rock.   Sustained substantial hull and keel damage.  Sailed with pumps running to Melbourne, Australia for emergency repairs, then home to Seattle for drydock repairs."
  • "In 1971 the Morgenthau suffered major damage to its keel and losing both propellers and the sonar dome while on patrol in Vietnam.  She was towed back to Subic Bay for repairs."
  • "1971 the CGC Sherman while underway departing Boston Harbor for an ocean station had one turbine explode which blew a hole in the side of her hull."
  • "On 20 June 1972, on board the Minnetonka, a water heater in the CPO mess exploded, killing one crewman."
  • "While on Deep Freeze '75, while escorting the USNS Pvt John R Towle through the ice pack, the Burton Island hit a pressure ridge, stopped, the Towle didn't.  Left a second notch in the stern.  Damage was later repaired in Long Beach, CA."
  • "June 4th or 6th of 1976 when the Ingham arriving Boston rammed the dock almost head on.  Required immediate shipyard availability to repair the eight-foot gash in her bow.  Repairs to the minor? damage were completed and she steamed under a full head of power to catch up with Eagle and the rest of the squadron."
  • "1977 fire on board the CGC Midgett: On 3 March 1977 a rack light in a forward berthing area on the 2nd deck caught fire to a pillow and spread quickly throughout the berthing.  The fire lasted for over an hour and took the life of one MKC.  He died of smoke inhalation."
  • "In 1977 the Unimak suffered a major fire and she remained out of commission for a year."
  • "CGC Scioto sank. . .in the 79-80 time frame.  I have a picture someone gave me back in 99 of nothing showing but the searchlight above the water.  The man who gave me the picture said it was hit by an ice flow on the Missouri River near its homeport at the time near Leavenworth and refloated a year later."  (as per BMC Brian Gentry)
  • "On 4 July 1979 the Mary Ann, a suspected drug smuggling vessel, collided with the Ingham."
  • "The Hawser ran aground in the early 1980's while exiting the Great Egg Inlet."
  • *****"The Polar Sea entry for 28 Jan 1982 was incorrect. The USNS Yukon collided with the Polar Sea while the latter was escorting the Yukon north out of McMurdo Sound.  The Polar Sea was stopped by ice when the Yukon collided with her, causing moderate damage." 

    The third mate of the Yukon corrected the last statement: "Concerning your list of USCG cutter accidents - I was third mate aboard the tanker USNS Yukon when it collided with the stuck Polar Sea in January of 1982. It is rather misleading to imply the Yukon collided with the Polar Sea. The Polar Sea switched off its turbines and decided to operate solely on diesels to save fuel, as they stated the ice was getting thinner. They relayed this to our vessel. Then the ice started to thicken and the Polar Sea requested we maintain a closer cpa as the ice was closing in. Shortly after we closed up, per their request, they went up on the ice and got stuck because it had thickened up again. We went immediately full astern on the Yukon, but due to the narrow channel we were unable to miss the Polar Sea. We shifted the helm at the last minute to minimize the damage to both vessels. This accident was caused by the Polar Sea trying to save fuel, not a simple tanker hitting them. I think that should be made clear in your archives. I was on watch at the time of the incident."
  • "During her last Antarctic trip (1983), the Eastwind collided with the edge of an iceberg.  Hot water was used to melt the edge jammed into the ship's hull.  She was temporarily patched and made Sydney.  There she was more permanently repaired to make the trip back to Mobile, Al, which she accomplished in 1984.  There was no loss of life."
  • "The USCGC Polar Sea had a fire in an auxiliary engine space early to mid-July 1984 while in drydock at Todd Shipyard, Seattle, Washington.  There were no significant personnel injuries."
  • "On 1 January 1984 the Westwind sustained major hull damage in the Weddel Sea on a Deep Freeze cruise."  LT Clarence Bonner provided more details: "The Westwind was caught in a pressure ridge, which ripped a 6ft high, 140ft gash down her side, above the waterline.  The crew patched it with rubber sheeting until they could get out of the ice, then with plywood, and limped into South America for steel repairs.  I was an RM2 at her homeport of Mobile at the time and recall the message traffic well, and had friends on her."
  • "[In the 1984-1986 timeframe the CGC Planetree] struck a submerged object in Glacier Bay Alaska while working a temp buoy.  Then on the way back out they struck it again, but this time opened up the bottom, which flooded the sewage compartment and main hold.  CGC Woodrush was asked for all pumps available to be dropped off by an HH-3F.  The Woodrush was also tasked with getting underway and mooring up beside the Planetree to be the food service and bathroom service while patching was completed.  Then CGC Planetree headed for Ketchikan, Alaska with the CGC Woodrush following in case something was to happen.  I was on the CGC Woodrush at the time."
  • "The Polar Sea encountered a rogue wave off the coast of Newfoundland in 1985.   An MST3 died of head injuries shortly after tumbling head over heels from one end of the bridge to another several times and crashing head first into the helm console.   An ensign suffered a broken arm."
  • "The Farallon struck a reef off of the Berry Islands in the Bahamas, 1987-1988."
  • "The Chandeleur struck a coral head in June of 1989 in the Bahamas.  It made its way back to Miami on one screw where temporary repairs were effected (replaced the stbd screw).  It then made its way on one screw to the CG yard for repairs.  I believe this resulted in the first strut replacement done on a 110'.  Damage sustained was: cracked stbd fin stabilizer, bent port and stbd screws, bent port shaft, bent port strut, cracked ort rudder."
  • "The outcome of this incident is that Polar Sea is the Coast Guard's only 398-foot cutter.  In late-1985 to 1989 when the Polar Sea was backing out of her berth at Pier 36 to get underway, her Barber Coleman computer propulsion control failed.  This caused all her propulsion diesels to quit, and the cutter had no way to check her sternward momentum.  She careened into the pilings alongside Harbor Island and a moored barge.  That scrape left the Polar Sea with one foot of her stern beat in.  The damage remains to this day and has only been continually painted over.  The outcome of that incident is that all Polar class cutters are required to have two tugs assist each one into and out of its berth in Seattle, no exceptions!"
  • "Point Harris was badly damaged during Hurricane Iniki in Hawaii in 1992.  She was decommissioned and sold."
  • "In 1993 the Boutwell was struck by a rogue wave while in transit to her ALPAT area.   The bridge crew reported green water breaking over the pilot house.  The wave heavily damaged the RHI, stove in a watertight door, carried away a weatherdeck ladder and a P-250 pump and smashed a porthole in the XO's head."
  • "In January 1994 the Polar Star's number 1 auxiliary boiler blew up due to a firebox explosion.  The burner door almost blew clean off as described in the 1999 accident, and the whole upper end of the boiler's air box ripped open causing approx 100,000dollars worth of damage.  Due to the grace of God no one was injured. . .The cause was found to be a contaminated main flame fuel valve.  Anyway the crew quickly extinguished all fires and eased all steam pressure from the affected systems.  The Seattle Fire Department double checked.  The blast had been heard from at least 2 miles away.  My boys did everything right that night.  I departed Polar Star in June of 1994 just days before light offs on the newly rebuilt number 1 boiler."
  • "In February, 1994, the USCGC Spencer (WMEC-905) experienced a fire in an electronics space on the 02 deck forward of the hanger, days before getting underway for an Atlantic fisheries patrol.  The fire was extinguished by duty section personnel and the Boston Fire Department, but not before it gutted the space and burned through an expansion joint and slightly warped the aluminum bulkheads and overhead.  The crew of the Spencer had the space cleaned out and assessed the necessary repairs, enabling the cutter to get underway on time.  Spencer returned to port nine days later to have the repairs performed and equipment replaced, and then resumed the patrol."
  • "In 1995 the Point Evans ran aground near Molikini Crater leaving a 12-foot long six-inch deep indentation in her keel and rather large pieces missing from her prop."
  • "The Firebush ran hard aground in April of 1996 in Bechivan Bay, Alaska.  A M/V attempted to help her off (the M/V ended up running aground herself).  She later floated free of the sand she was stuck on."
  • "The Cowslip collided with the M/V Ever Grade (Panamanian) in the Columbia River on 15 May 1997.  She was repaired and returned to service."
  • "Polar Sea rammed in to the M/V Green Wave while tying up to the ice pier [at McMurdo Base, Ross Island] during her Deep Freeze 1997 deployment [early-February 1997].  The Green Wave claimed $300,000 worth of damage to itself, while the Polar Sea will wear a 10-foot long crease in its port racing stripe to its grave."
  • "In early November 1998 the Polar Star was southbound, near Hawaii, when one of her boilers exploded the inspection door open.  This door nailed a young fireman square in the forehead causing major injuries."   
  • "I was on Polar Star Aug-95 to Aug-98.  Unless the above was a nearly duplicate incident. . . .this actually occurred in July 98 while heading northbound to the Arctic.  I still remember the poor fireman crying out in sickbay after the incident -- he was lucky to have lived.  We had to sit in Kodiak AK for several days to rig a donkey boiler so we could continue up north to the Arctic."

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