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Cutter Accidents

Please note that the following list was first compiled by the Cutter Operations Division in 1990; other entries have been added and/or updated via information provided by other sources, including former crewmen.



[Original damage assessment as per Cutter Operations Division 1990 report--if the accident listed is from that report]

Air Partridge

Nov 1947 Towing collision Moderate

Air Peacock

Nov 1947 Towing collision Moderate

Air Tanger

Nov 1947 Towing collision Moderate


19 Jan 1949 Collision Major, 13 Dead

White Holly

27 Aug 1949 Collision Minor


28 Mar 1950 Grounded Total loss

Macoma (2nd)

08 May 1952 Grounded Minor


11 July 1953 Holed on rock Moderate


10 Feb 1955 Grounded Minor

1955 -- "Storis ran aground in the Wrangell Narrows, near Petersburg, Alaska.  She was then sent to Seattle for major repairs."
Iris 19 Oct 1957 Struck submerged object Moderate
Iroquois 06 Mar 1958 (incorrect date; see below) Grounded Major

"The [above] report was in error.  Actual date the
Iroquois grounded was 29 June 1954."


15 Oct 1958 Grounded Minor


04 Dec 1959 Collision Minor

General Greene

07 Mar 1960 Grounded Moderate

1960 --
Acushnet & General Greene: "On 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."

1960 -- 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.


09 Nov 1961 Collision Moderate

1962: "Spar sank to her main deck in Narragansett Bay in 1962 after striking the bottom just north of Prudence Island, Rhode Island."

1962 -- "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."


31 Jan 1963 Collision Moderate

1963 -- Tamaroa: "In March 1963 the Tamaroa sank while in dry-dock at Bushey's Red Hook, Brooklyn.   She was raised, repaired, and returned to service."


10 Apr 1964 Grounded Moderate


10 May 1965 Fire Moderate

Point Glass

26 May 1965 Collision Minor


15 Jul 1965 Grounded Minor

Cape Carter

19 Jul 1965 Collision Moderate


24 Aug 1965 Grounded Moderate


01 Sep 1965 Collision Minor
Point Thatcher 04 Oct 1966 Struck submerged object Major


15 Jul 1966 Grounded Minor


20 Jan 1967 Fire Moderate

1967 -- Yakutat:
"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."

1967 -- Staten Island: "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."


Jan 1967 Collision Major


10 Jan 1968 Collision Moderate


10 Jan 1968 Collision Moderate

24 Mar 1968 Explosion Moderate
Bittersweet 12 Apr 1968 Struck submerged object Moderate


08 Oct 1968 Grounded Major
Loganberry 03 Dec 1968 Struck submerged object Total loss [incorrect--raised & repaired]

White Alder

07 Dec 1968 Collision Sank, Total Loss, 17 Dead

1969 -- Evergreen: "In 1969 the Evergreen had a major engine room fire."

1969 --
Staten Island: "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 phosphorus rings to cut through the deck, to attack the fire.  I do not believe there were any major injuries, but the fire did quite a bit of damage."


Jan 1969 Motor burnt out Adrift, minor

Point Verde

13 Jan 1969 Fire Minor


12 Mar 1969 Collision Minor


15 Aug 1969 Grounded Minor

07 Sep 1969 Holed by ice Moderate

1970 --
Edisto: "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.  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."


12 Jun 1970 Collision Minor

Point Brower

13 Jul 1970 Capsized Moderate


24 Jul 1970 Collision Minor

1971 --
Staten Island: "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 dry-dock repairs."

1971 --
Morgenthau: "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 -- Sherman: "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."


29 Jan 1971 Grounded Minor


03 Aug 1971 Grounded Minor

1971 --
Castle Rock: "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."


24 May 1972 Collision Major
Minnetonka 20 Jun 1972 Heater Explosion Moderate


Jun 1972 Collision Substantial

1972 --
Minnetonka: "On 20 June 1972, on board the Minnetonka, a water heater in the CPO mess exploded, killing one crewman."

The Coast Guardsman who lost his life was EM3 Craig J. Surmeier, USCG.


05 Oct 1972 Collision Major


15 Nov 1972 Grounded Major


13 April 1973 Grounded Minor

1974-75 -- Burton Island: "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."


26 May 1975 Grounded Moderate


18 Oct 1975 Grounded Minor


04 Jun 1974 Collision Minor

1976 -- Ingham: "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 -- Unimak: "In 1977 the Unimak suffered a major fire and she remained out of commission for a year."


21 Nov 1976 Grounded Moderate

1977 -- Midgett: "1977 fire on board the CGC
Midgett: On 30 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." 

The Coast Guardsman who lost his life was MKC William D. Gray, USCG.


25 Jul 1977 Shaft Damaged Minor


10 Aug 1977 Flooding Moderate


13 Dec 1977 Grounding Minor


24 Jan 1978 Grounding Moderate


02 May 1978 Grounding Moderate


14 Aug 1978 Collision Moderate


14 Aug 1978 Collision Moderate


12 Sep 1978 Collision Minor


20 Oct 1978 Collision Sank, Total Loss, 11 Dead


01 Feb 1979 Collision Minor
Citrus 27 Feb 1979 Struck submerged object Major

1979 --
Ingham: "On 4 July 1979 the Mary Ann, a suspected drug smuggling vessel, collided with the Ingham."


28 Jan 1980 Collision Sank, Total Loss, 23 dead


24 Apr 1980 Fire Minor

07 Oct 1980 Collision Moderate


04 Dec 1980 Fire Minor
Polar Sea 28 Jan 1982 Grounded(Actually collision--see below) Moderate

"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."


18 Jul 1982 Grounded Minor

1983 --
Eastwind: "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."

1984 --
Westwind: "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."
Snohomish 13 Jan 1984 Struck submerged object Moderate


24 Jun 1984 Grounded Moderate

1984 --
Polar Sea: "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."

1985 -- Polar Sea: "The Polar Sea encountered a rogue wave off the coast of Queen Charlotte Island in the Gulf of Alaska in [October of] 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 Coast Guardsman who lost his life was MST3 Bradley J. Galik, USCG.


08 May 1985 Fire Minor (see below)

Cutter Division originally classified this mishap as "minor" but in fact the fire killed Chase crewman MK3 Nicholas V. Berei, USCG.  The fire caused extensive damage and the cutter had to be towed into port by CGC Chilula for lengthy repairs.

White Sage
15 Dec 1985 Collision Moderate

Point Franklin

15 Dec 1986 Grounded Minor

Point Steele

31 Mar 1987 Grounded (?) Minor

1987 -- Farallon: "The Farallon struck a reef off of the Berry Islands in the Bahamas, 1987-1988."


1 Jun 1989 Fire Minor

1989 --
Chandeleur: "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 port rudder."


04 Dec 1989 Grounded Total loss


05 Dec 1989 Grounded Minor


09 Jan 1990 Grounded Moderate


25 Jan 1990 Grounded Undetermined

1992 -- Point Harris:
"The Point Harris was badly damaged during Hurricane Iniki in Hawaii in 1992
.  She was decommissioned and sold."

1993 -- Boutwell: "In [1992] 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."

 [This incident occurred on 13 December 1992 as per R. M. EdAngelis (Ed.), "Marine Weather Review [-] Casualties," Mariner's Weather Log 37, 2 (Spring, 1993), p. 76.  The Marine Weather Log report stated: "The USCGC Boutwell was on Alaska patrol on the 13th and they were battling 30-ft seas when a 'freak' wave estimated at more than 40 ft crested and broke over the ship, staving in a water tight door and causing other minor damage."]

1994 -- Polar Star: "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."

1994 -- Spencer: "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."

1995 -- Point Evans: "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."

1996 -- Firebush: "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."

1997 --
Cowslip: "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."

1997 -- Polar Star: "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."

1998 -- Polar Star: "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."


  • "[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."

Last Modified 4/26/2016