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History

During June 1976, CGC MELLON towed USCGC POLAR STAR to her Seattle homeport after the POLAR STAR suffered an engineering casualty that caused her to lose propulsion near Hawaii. On October 11, 1976, CGC MELLON participated in Alaska Day Festivities during which over 2000 people toured CGC MELLON and the crew participated in the annual parade.

On November 18, 1976 at the end of yet another Alaskan patrol, CGC MELLON received a distress call from the motor vessel CARNELIAN I. The CARNELIAN I was located 100 miles North of Oahu. CGC MELLON rushed to the scene, where Coast Guard aircraft had attempted to drop survival gear to the foundering vessel. On scene weather conditions were terrible with low visibility, high winds and rough seas. The vessel sank rapidly. Demonstrating consummate seamanship, CGC MELLON was able to recover 16 of 33 crewmen who were clinging to logs and debris in the storm-tossed seas.

CGC MELLON was again awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for operations conducted between 28 June 1975 to 2 February 1976. Her efforts to track and report the identity of vessels that were illegally discharging oil into the ocean were praised highly in the citation.

On March 6, 1977 CGC MELLON spotted a volcanic eruption just a few hours old on Seguam Island in the Aleutian chain. In January 1977, CGC MELLON became the first vessel to use the probe refueling at sea rig. Later in 1977, women were first assigned to CGC MELLON. That same year, CGC MELLON was featured in a Hollywood motion picture, "The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark," which starred Genevieve Bujold.

In 1980, CGC MELLON assisted in the rescue of 520 passengers and crewmembers from the burning luxury liner PRINSENDAM. The PRINSENDAM was a 427 foot long cruiser liner built in 1973. The liner was transiting through Gulf of Alaska waters, approximately 120 miles south of Yakutat, AK, at midnight on October 4, 1980, when fire broke out in the engine room. The vessel’s master declared the fire out of control one hour later and the PRINSENDAM sent a distress call requesting immediate assistance. The Coast Guard’s rescue coordination center in Juneau, AK, received the message and began to organize a rescue effort. Aircraft were immediately sortied to the scene, including an HH-3 helicopter and a C-130 turbo prop maritime patrol aircraft. At the time, CGC MELLON was on patrol near Vancouver, BC, a distance of 550 nautical miles from PRINSENDAM. CGC MELLON and other cutters diverted to assist. The 1000-foot supertanker, WILLIAMSBURGH, also diverted to render assistance.

The master of the PRINSENDAM ordered the vessel abandoned at approximately 0630. The crew and passengers of the cruise liner filled the lifeboats with only 15 passengers and 25 crewmembers remaining on the PRINSENDAM. WILLIAMSBURGH arrived at 0745 and immediately passengers and crew were transferred from the lifeboats into the helicopter and then to the deck of the supertanker. The remaining crew and passengers from the surrounding lifeboats were transferred to the WILLIAMSBURGH. Sometime in the mid-afternoon the USCGC BOUTWELL arrived to assist. Those in critical condition were transferred to the USCGC BOUTWELL and taken to Sitka, Alaska for treatment. CGC MELLON arrived around 1830 that night and dispatched a team to provide medical assistance onboard the WILLIAMSBURGH. At around 2100, 20 passengers and 2 Air Force aviator technicians were still reported missing in one of the PRINSENDAM’s lifeboats. The Coast Guard Command in Juneau directed the USCGC BOUTWELL and an HC-130 Hercules to search for the missing lifeboat. At around 0100 the next morning, some 18 hours after the ordeal had begun, the BOUTWELL spotted a flare from the lifeboat. Shortly thereafter, the lifeboat’s passengers were recovered and the rescue was over with no deaths or serious injuries and all passengers and crew from the PRINSENDAM accounted for.

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Last Modified 12/31/2013