Archive for the 'Coast Guard' Category

Aug 4

Founders of the U. S. Coast Guard

Thursday, August 4, 2011 1:00 AM

August 4, 1790

Creation of U. S. Revenue Marine


In March 1976, Proceedings published a brief article by Truman R. Strobridge and Bernard C. Nalty about the discovery of correspondence between Alexander Hamilton, credited with the creation of the Revenue Marine, and Colonel Sharp Delaney, a Customs collector at the time. This correspondence, regarding the use of ships to enforce the new Customs laws of the Constitution, suggests that Hamilton may not have been solely responsible for the conception of the service that is today known as the U. S. Coast Guard. As Strobridge and Nalty write:

No one denies that today’s Coast Guard is descended from Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton’s U. S. Revenue Marine, but letters discovered in 1962 at the Philadelphia Customs House raise questions about other aspects of the story. Did the Revenue Marine originate at Philadelphia or at Newburyport, Massachusetts, where the first revenue cutter was built? Was its founder Alexander Hamilton or Colonel Sharp Delany, an Irish-born veteran of the Revolution who in 1789 became the first Collector of Customs at the Pennsylvania city?

About two months after Delany took office, but while he was absent because of illness, a circular letter arrived from Secretary Hamilton. The question of revenue cutters was already on the cabinet officer’s mind, for he asked “to have your ideas of the expediency of employing them in your quarter, and (if any appear to you necessary) of the number and kind you deem requisite, their armament and probable expense.” If any cutters “have been in use under State Regulations,” Hamilton continued, “I desire they may be continued and that I may be advised with accuracy of the nature of their establishment.” Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 6

Operation Neptune, 6 June 1944

Monday, June 6, 2011 12:01 AM

Operation Neptune—the naval component of the 6 June 1944 invasion of Normandy, France—comprised thousands of warships, auxiliaries, and landing craft. Britain, Canada, and the United States, as well as the navies-in-exile of France, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Greece, supplied 1,213 warships to provide shore bombardment firepower for the troops going ashore, guard the transports, and conduct minesweeping and antisubmarine patrols on the flanks of the invasion corridor. These navies also provided 4,126 amphibious craft, including more than 3,500 specialized landing craft which provided the crucial troop-carrying capacity to land thousands of men, vehicles, and artillery during the invasion.

On 5 June 1944 the ships and craft began gathering in assembly areas southeast of the Isle of Wight. From there, many passed through channels that had been swept through the German defensive minefields and moved into their respective waiting areas before dawn on 6 June. Hundreds of antisubmarine escorts and patrol planes protected the flanks of these assault convoys. Between 0530 and 0550, the Allied gunfire support task groups began bombarding prearranged targets along the beaches at Normandy.

In the American sector, the landing at Utah beach began at 0630 and, despite occurring slightly south of the target area, proceeded according to plan as the U.S. 4th Division advanced rapidly toward its initial objectives. At Omaha beach, where the landings began at 0635, underwater obstacles bottled up many of the amphibious craft and the congestion provided easy targets for German gunners. It took a combination of short-range destroyer gunnery support, aerial bombardment, and desperate infantry assaults to break the German defenses. It was not until noon that the U.S. 1st and 29th Divisions crossed the beach line in force.

The British sector proceeded more smoothly. Rough seas and higher-than-expected tides hindered the clearance of beach obstacles, but excellent naval gunfire support suppressed German defensive fire at Sword and Juno beaches. The landings there, which began at 0730 and 0735, respectively, proceeded apace and the British 3d and Canadian 3d Divisions moved inland by early afternoon. At Gold beach, where the 50th Division landed at 0725, the beach obstacles were more numerous than expected and many landing craft were lost. This hindered the buildup of forces ashore and it wasn’t until nightfall that the beach was secured.

After overrunning the German beach defenses, the Allies rapidly expanded the individual beachheads, and the workhorse amphibious craft quickly reinforced the lodgment with new troops, munitions, and supplies. Superior Allied naval and shore-based artillery then helped defeat the initial German counterattacks at the same time that Allied dominance of the air hindered the transportation of German reinforcements to the region. By 25 July the Allies were strong enough to launch Operation Cobra and begin the liberation of France.

Mar 11

Operation Market Time Begins in Vietnam

Friday, March 11, 2011 1:38 AM

March, 11th 1965

Operation Market Time was established after the Vung Ro incident to blockade the vast South Vietnam coastline against North Vietnamese trawlers that could carry several tons of arms and ammunition in their hulls. The ships would maneuver out in the South China Sea, waiting for the cover of darkness to make high-speed runs to the South Vietnam coastline. If successful, the ships would off load their cargoes to waiting Viet Cong or North Vietnamese forces.

The discovery in February 1965, of a 130-foot junk off-loading enemy supplies in Vung Ro Bay brought about the decision to order the Coast Guard patrol vessels to Vietnam. In this particular case, the camouflaged junk had infiltrated with enough arms and supplies to outfit an entire enemy battalion. There were reasons to believe that similar landings were being made at other points along the coast.

Example of a round up

Commander R. L. Schreadley, U. S. Navy, pointed out in “Sea Lords” (Proceedings, August 1970),

“By almost all measurable criteria the task forces (Market Time, Game Warden, and Mobile Riverine) had achieved a high degree of effectiveness (by the fall of 1968). There had been no known attempts to infiltrate large shipments of men or arms into South Vietnam by sea since the Tet offensive earlier in the year. Possibly, small intra-coastal transhipments may still have occurred, but if they did, it was at a high cost to the enemy because of the intensive and well co-ordinated Market Time air and sea patrols. These patrols had forced the enemy to reorient his entire logistics system and to organize and construct networks of infiltration routes in the Demilitarized Zone, in Laos, and in Cambodia.”

In his article “Skimmer Ops” (Proceedings July 1977) Lieutenant J. F. Ebersole, U. S. Coast Guard remarks in the words of one Market Time Swift boat (PCF) skipper,

“If we hadn’t done our job so well, they wouldn’t have had to build the Ho Chi Minh Trail.”

Swift boat

Feb 18

Navy TV – The Story of the Pea Island Lifesavers

Friday, February 18, 2011 6:10 PM

Watch the story of the legendary Pea Island Life Savers, an all-black lifesaving crew that accomplished one of the most daring rescues in the annals of the Life Saving Service in 1896, saving the entire crew of the three-masted schooner E.S. Newman, for which they were posthumously awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal by the Coast Guard. See it here on NavyTV.

Jan 3

Frank Erickson and the First Helicopter Rescue

Monday, January 3, 2011 12:01 AM

 CDR Frank A. Erickson, USCG, struggled to keep his Sikorsky HNS-1 helicopter in the air as high winds drove blinding snow squalls and sleet into him. A fierce storm swept the Atlantic coast and forced authorities to ground aircraft and close airfields, however, Erickson persevered because men’s lives depended upon him.

Captain Frank A. Erickson, USCG

Devastating explosions ripped USS Turner (DD 648) apart as she lay anchored off Ambrose Light near Lower New York Bay, during the morning watch on 3 January 1944. The fires cooked-off ammunition and despite the crew’s gallant attempts to save their ship, she sank within hours. Rescuers brought survivors to the nearby hospital at Sandy Hook, and the wounded urgently needed blood plasma.

Erickson took off from Floyd Bennett Field in New York and fought gusting winds that tore through the corridors of downtown Manhattan. Reaching Battery Park, he picked up two cases of the precious fluid, and with the cargo lashed to the helicopter’s floats, he then delivered the plasma in the first helicopter lifesaving operation. The intrepid pilot afterward observed that the “weather conditions were such that this flight could not have been made in any other type of aircraft.”

Born near Portland, Oregon, Erickson enlisted in the Navy and became a midshipman before he resigned and enlisted in the Coast Guard. He received an appointment to the Coast Guard Academy and commissioned as an ensign in 1931. After service on board cutters before World War II, he transferred to Honolulu and witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Erickson subsequently became instrumental in the early development of helicopters and pioneered some of the techniques that the Navy and Coast Guard adapted, before he retired at the rank of Captain to Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1954.

For more about CAPT Frank Erickson, click here.

Jan 1

Truman Executive Order 9666 – Directing the Return of the Coast Guard to the Treasury Department

Saturday, January 1, 2011 12:01 AM

Executive Order 9666 – Directing the Return of the Coast Guard to the Treasury Department

December 28, 1945

 WHEREAS Executive Order No. 8929 of November 1, 1941 (6 F.R. 5581), directed that from that date and until further orders the Coast Guard should operate as a part of the navy, subject to the orders of the Secretary of the Navy; and

WHEREAS the need for the operation of the Coast Guard as a part of the Navy no longer exists, its primary mission in operating as a part of the Navy having been accomplished;

NOW THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and statues of the United States, including Title I of the First War Powers Act, 1941 (55 Stat. 838), and as President of the United States, it is hereby directed that on and after January 1, 1946, the Coast Guard shall operate under the Department of the Treasury; and thereupon all authority, powers, and duties conferred upon or vested in the Secretary of the Navy by any law, proclamation or Executive order affecting the Coast Guard, enacted or promulgated during the period the Coast Guard has been operating as a part of the Navy and now in effect, shall, to the extent that they affect the Coast Guard, vest in and be exercised by the Secretary of the Treasury.

This order is subject to the following exceptions, provisions, and conditions:

1. In the interest of expeditious demobilization and other exigencies of the Naval Service, such Coast Guard vessels, facilities, and personnel as the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of the Navy may mutually agree upon shall continue to operate as a part of the Navy, subject to the orders of the Secretary of the Navy, for such additional time beyond January 1, 1946, as the agreement may provide.

2. The Coast Guard shall continue, for such period as may be mutually agreeable to the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of the Navy, Air-Sea Rescue functions and the maintenance and operation of mid-ocean weather stations and air-sea navigational aids, under the directional control of the Navy; and all vessels, facilities, equipment and supplies required by the Coast Guard in connection with the maintenance and operation of such activities and not required by the Naval Establishment are authorized to be transferred to the jurisdiction of the Department of the Treasury for the use of the Coast Guard.

3. In the initiation, prosecution, and completion of disciplinary action, including remission and mitigation of punishments for any offense committed by any officer or enlisted man of the Coast Guard, the jurisdiction shall depend upon and be in accordance with the laws and regulations of the department having jurisdiction of the person of such offender at the various stages of such action.

4. In effecting the transfer herein prescribed no change shall be made until June 30, 1946, in existing methods of appropriation accounting, or in existing methods of disbursement for the Coast Guard, which shall continue until that date to be performed as heretofore by officers of the Navy or Coast Guard designated under existing regulations for that purpose. The appropriation accounts of the Coast Guard shall be kept on the general ledgers of the Navy Department until June 30, 1946 after which date they shall be transferred to the Treasury Department.

The said Executive Order No. 8929 of November 1, 1941, is hereby revoked.



December 28, 1945

Aug 4

U.S. Coast Guard Art Program

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 2:20 PM

Air Station Savannah by Ken Smith

The Coast Guard Art Program has a corps of volunteer, professional artists who donate their talents to help tell the Coast Guard’s story. 

The artists capture the daily missions the 41,500 men and women of the Coast Guard perform including homeland security, search and rescue, marine environmental protection, drug interdiction, military readiness, and natural resource management. 

The collection also recounts the Coast Guard’s history from the early beginnings of our great nation into World War II, through the perils of Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Today, the collection contains some 1,850 works and is displayed prominently in other majopr government locations such as the Department of Defense and congressional offices.

The Coast Guard is honored to have original artwork available for temporary loan, free of charge for public display at patriotic events, museums, libraries, and many other venues.

For information on the Coast Guard Art Program, please contact Mary Ann Bader by phone at 202-372-4643 or email. Mary.A. Bader[@]

Aug 4

Happy 220th Birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 12:01 AM

Hopefully the next 220 years are as good as the first 220 years. Enjoy this video about the Coast Guard Historian’s office and Coast Guard Museum. Semper Paratus!

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