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12 January 1949      
File: 607                   

Address reply to
Commanding Officer
Pier 18, Stapleton, SINY

From:  Commanding Officer, SEBAGO (WPG-42)
To:      The Commandant (ENE)
Via:     Commander, 3rd CG District (eme)

Subj.   Excessive rolling; installation gyro stabilizers, recommendation for

1.     Whenever two or more officers or men attached to the 255 foot class meet, or visit Headquarters or the YARD, the topic of vehement conversation invariably becomes that concerning the excessive rolling of these vessels.  In discussions at Headquarters and elsewhere, but particularly at Headquarters, the undersigned officer has found that one of the following reactions is most generally encountered, viz: (a) Contemptuous amusement, (b) Short-lived sympathy, (c) A shrug - "What can I do about it?", (d) Incredulity, (e) Outright disbelief.  One Headquarter's officer recently simply cut short the discussion by saying, "It floats doesn't it?" apparently refusing to carry this thought to its logical conclusion that so also do corks, barges, buoys, apples - indeed, any substance whose specific gravity is less than that of water, most of which would hardly be considered as vessels on weather patrol station in the North Atlantic Ocean.

2.     The undersigned officer has put in well over twelve years of sea duty all in the Atlantic and Arctic, aboard practically every class of vessel employed by the Coast Guard.  He, along with many others who had not seen duty aboard OWASCO class cutters, took the assertions (concerning the rolling) of those personnel attached to them with a grain of salt.  Now, after more than four months aboard the SEBAGO with two patrols on Station Charlie, this officer is convinced that the case has been understated.  This vessel rolls more deeply and with a more irritating, nasty, lurching motion than any other vessel in which he has served.  The vessel is so tender she seems to abhor being on an even keel.  She will roll up to 5 or more at a pier.  At sea she is never still or comfortable, unless underway at good speed in a relatively calm sea.  Her rolling is out of all proportion to the weather and sea conditions.  After a few weeks at sea, it becomes an obsession in attempting to settle her down even for meals.

3.     It is difficult for those ashore or attached to reasonably steady vessels to visualize the effects of a continuous lurching and staggering roll for a period of five consecutive weeks.  One never "gets used to it."  Every movable article is always tied down, and even so, occasionally carelessness leads to breakage and loss.  All the little simple things one does ashore without a second thought assume proportions consuming major effort: typing, taking inventories, filling out reports, eating, cooking (!), trying to relax or sleep, going to the toilet with water in the bowl slopping and spraying over one, taking a shower, computing weather data with slide rules, clipboards, etc., etc., slipping and skidding about.  Always it is necessary to hold on, with hands, knees, body.  Even moving about the ship from one hand hold to another is an effort that frequently seems not worth it. 

4.     It is of course obvious that the equipment, machinery, and electronic gear suffer, not only through being subjected to continuous abnormal strain, but also due to some lackadaisical watch-standing.  Lack of proper maintenance, and much accidental damage.  There is a tangible loss in efficiency in all hands due in part to the above mentioned reasons, and in part to the "oh hell with it!" attitude which inevitably is the result of rationalizing one's mental outlook in an inescapably distasteful position.  Add to this the continual loss of men (and not necessarily first-hitchers) who take their discharge rather than reenlist for more OWASCO class duty, and one sees a steady lowering of efficiency and accuracy.

5.     In addition to the above, this officer feels, although it would be difficult to prove statistically, that through lowered resistance to colds and other infections, as well as continuously half-seasick men, due to a distinct lack of proper rest and food intake, further large reductions in efficiency and accuracy must be reckoned.

6.     In view of the possibility that very little data exists concerning the behavior of the 255 foot class, the undersigned officer kept a faithful log of the rolling of the SEBAGO together with weather data for an entire patrol.  Pertinent parts are transcribed herewith:

Dec 12 Dec 14 Dec 20 Dec 20 Dec 20 Dec 25 Dec 25 Dec 25 1949: Jan 2 Jan 3 Jan 3 Jan 5 Jan 5 Jan 6
Date Time GTC Place  Course True Speed-knots Wind-knots Sea Roll-degrees
1948-Dec 11 2000 Ambrose LV 088 16 SXE 5 0 5
1400 Georges Bank 058 16 EXS5 0 5
1000 Placentia Bay 043 15 W 45-50 NW 4 30-40
1200 Station Charlie 050 13 SW 35 SW 4 10-25
2000 Station Charlie 050 13 SW 20 SW 4 15-30
2400 Station Charlie 140 0 SE 20 SW 2 20-35
1100 Station Charlie 280 5 SW 30 SW 4 lurching 30-35
1400 Station Charlie 090 0 SW 30 SW 4 lurching 20-30
2000 Station Charlie 040 0 SW 22 SW 4 15 occ. 20-35
1900 Station Charlie 090 0 SW 40 SW 4 lurching snap 15-20
1100 Station Charlie 090 0 WXN 30 Confused 4 Monotonous lurching 15-20
1400 Station Charlie 090 0 WSW 20 Confused 4 Same roll, 15-20
1100 Station Charlie 290 5 NW 20 WNW 2-1 Tiring snap & lurch 20-30
1400 Station Charlie 090 0 WXN 15-20 WNW 2 Monotonous insistent lurching 15-30
2000 Station Charlie 090 0 SW 20 NW 1 Peevishly & erratically 15-25

     The period of the roll throughout averaged 10 seconds, increasing to about 14 seconds only when all ballast was pumped prior to entering Argentia.

7.     In view of the unquestionably excessive rolling of this class cutter, it is earnestly recommended that gyro-stabilizers be installed as a class alteration.  It is felt that, whatever the cost, the Coast Guard would save actual dollars and cents in increased efficiency and accuracy of personnel, fewer major repairs and shore maintenance, and, of equal importance, salvaging trained men who are presently looking to discharge and less fatiguing if less remunerative occupations.

8.     In view of the diversified opinions concerning the rolling of OWASCO class cutters, and with the hope of getting most of these opinions and ideas in writing before the responsible officers at Headquarters, this letter was read for comment by all officers on board the SEBAGO.  Their comments and ideas, some of which are not in concurrence with the recommendation for installation of a gyro-stabilizer, are enclosed.  The undersigned officer agrees with practically all remarks, believing that these ships are the most inhuman ever utilized by the Coast Guard.

                                                                                                E. A. Coffin, Jr.




Last Modified 1/12/2016