Boom Defense, Everything Old is New Again

A little footnote on the War in Ukraine. This is from Covert Shores “Attack On Kerch Bridge: Initial Geolocation Of Damage.” A section at the bottom of the post is a look at increased Russian activity after the attack on the bridge.

Take a look at the detail picture of the harbor, above, top, near the center, second from the right. The thin wavy line is a boom or net accross the entrence to Sevastopol harbor.

Steel floats for anti-submarine nets, 1953

Anti-submarine nets were common during WWII, and booms go back to at least the American Revolution if not to antiquity. This may be in response to Ukraine’s apparent use of unmanned surface vessels. I have seen some barriers deployed around aircraft carriers moored at North Island in San Diego.

What does this have to do with the Coast Guard? Buoy tenders were commonly used as Net Tenders during WWII, opening and closing the anti-submarine nets.

Armed unmanned surface and subsurface vehicles are providing a new reason to deploy nets and barriers. We may see a return of these systems.

“Lantern room lifted off Scituate Lighthouse as $2 million restoration begins” –The Patriot Ledger

The top of  the Scituate Lighthouse is removed to make way for a replacement Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022.

Photo by Gregg Derr/The Patriot Ledger

Report of an historic lighthouse preservation effort from The Patriot Ledger.

The lantern room of the Scituate Lighthouse was removed Thursday morning after preservation experts discovered the iron columns connecting the room to the tower are severely corroded…The lantern room of the 211-year-old lighthouse will be completely rebuilt through a $2 million project paid for by the Scituate Community Preservation Fund. The work includes putting in a new frame, new window frames, new copper cladding and glazing.

The Very First US Naval Helicopters and Their Coast Guard Pilot

CDR Frank Erickson, USCG, the first US Naval Aviation helicopter pilot.

I am sharing a post written by Coast Guard Aviator, Capt. Sean M. Cross, that appeared on his Facebook Page. Captain Cross’s Facebook page provides daily stories about Coast Guard aviation history. I have a bit of a personal connection, because his dad, former Vice Commandant, VAdm. Terry M. Cross, USCG (ret.), served with me, on my first active duty station, USCGC McCulloch. Even then, it was clear he was a standout.

TODAY IN COAST GUARD AVIATION HISTORY – 03 SEPTEMBER 1943: On 3 September, the U.S. Navy Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics requested that Coast Guard CDR Frank Erickson, who was assigned to the Sikorsky Factory in Bridgeport, CT, prepare a weekly report for the Bureau outlining the progress made on various model helicopters, estimates of completion, trial and delivery dates; and in addition, such other technical information determined from time to time which had or may have a bearing on present or future operations of this type aircraft.
[Some excerpts from “1943: Coast Guard Assigned the Sea-going Development of the Helicopter” on the Coast Guard Aviation History website] This arrangement came about because U.S. Navy CDR Charles Booth, the naval aviator in the initial helicopter training class at Sikorsky, was involved in moving the Navy’s flight test facility from NAS Anacostia to the Naval Test Center at Patuxent River, Maryland and as a result had not followed through on his qualification. Erickson thus remained the only naval aviator qualified in the helicopter. Hence, in the summer of 1943 Erickson had taken charge of the Navy’s helicopter development program.
Erickson submitted his first report on 18 September. It noted that the YR-4s for the joint evaluation program were on schedule. The two British helicopters had been completed but had not yet been delivered because of rotor problems. He further stated the problems were being addressed. On 25 September a YR-4A was released to the British. On October 16, 1943 – the U.S. Navy accepted its first helicopter, a Sikorsky YR-4B, Navy designation XHNS-1, BuNo 46445, at Bridgeport, Connecticut. However, and this is rich, Coast Guard LCDR Frank Erickson, CGA ’31 flew the one-hour acceptance test flight because the Navy had no helicopter pilots. I will admit – they were pretty busy fighting WWII and winning.
Regardless, the Navy celebrates 16 October as the Birthday of Navy Helicopter Aviation^^^. CDR Charles T. Booth, USN, went to Bridgeport to qualify as a helicopter pilot and to fly the XHNS-1 to the Naval Air Test Center (NATC), NAS Patuxent River, MD. CDR Booth was the first U.S. Navy Officer to become qualified to fly helicopters.
With the acceptance of two additional helicopters at the end of October 1943, the Sikorsky facilities became very crowded. Erickson sought to transfer all operation to Coast Guard Air Station Brooklyn at Floyd Bennett Field. The Chief of Naval Operations approved and designated the Coast Guard Air Station Brooklyn as the Helicopter Training and Development Base. On 20 November, LCDR John Miller, USN and LTJG Stewart Graham, USCG completed flight training. Graham received Coast Guard Helicopter Pilot Designation Number Two.
[NOTE: the Coast Guard celebrates this anniversary on 15 June 1943 when LCDR Erickson was designated Coast Guard Helicopter Pilot #1 at the Sikorsky Aircraft plant]

“Coast Guard, other agencies to remove 2 abandoned vessels from Columbia River in Portland, Ore.” –One of Them Is a Former US Coast Guard Cutter

The Active-class cutter USCGC Alert (WMEC-127) moored on the Columbia River, by Hayden Island in Portland, Oregon. Seen on 14 August 2019. Photo from Wikipedia by godsfriendchuck.

Just saw this news release and realized they were talking about the former USCGC Alert (WMEC-127). We talked about this ship and its unfortunate post Coast Guard history earlier including a lot of information in the comments.

Since this was what passed for a WMEC when I entered the academy in 1965, you can see why I sometimes see the Webber class FRCs as MECs. The FRCs have more freeboard.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 13th District PA Detachment Astoria

Coast Guard, other agencies to remove 2 abandoned vessels from Columbia River in Portland, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Coast Guard and other agencies have approved a plan Wednesday to remove two abandoned vessels from the Columbia River in Portland.

The vessels Alert, a 125-foot vessel, and Sakarissa, a 100-foot vessel, are currently sunk off Hayden Island. They are adjacent to the Interstate 5 Bridge and a mile upriver from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad bridge.

Due to hull deterioration and oil saturation of the vessels’ interiors, they have been discharging a sheen into the waterway. They also pose a collision hazard for vessels operating outside the navigation channel.

“Even though the Coast Guard oversaw the removal of thousands of gallons of diesel and oily water from these vessels in 2020, they still pose a risk,” said L.t. Lisa Siebert, the Incident Management Division Supervisor at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River – Detachment Portland. “We have worked closely with our State and local partners to develop an integrated plan to remove these vessels and protect the public and the environment.”

This project will be funded in two phases. During the first phase, the Coast Guard plans to use the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF) to raise the vessels and transport them to a facility in order to safely pump any remaining oil waste product from the vessels. During the second phase, the Oregon Department of State Lands, with funding support from Metro, is scheduled to assume custody of the vessels for final disposal.

The Coast Guard was granted authorization to access the OSLTF for $1 million for its phase of the project. There is currently a ceiling amount of $500,000 for each vessel. This amount is determined for the response based on anticipated obligations. Since this is just an estimate, this ceiling is subject to change during the response.

The Coast Guard plans to begin operations in early September, starting with dive assessments to determine the safest way to raise and transport the two vessels. The Coast Guard plans to conduct operations to raise the vessels throughout the month of September. 

“These plans are preliminary and we will continuously assess our plan and make adjustments if needed,” Siebert said. “Throughout this response, the safety of the public and responders will remain our top priority.”

During project activities, the immediate vicinity of the area will be closed to public access.

“I’m incredibly happy our partnerships and hard work resulted in a much-needed plan to remove these vessels,” Siebert said. “This project is truly a team effort and we can’t do it alone.”

Involved in developing the plan were the Coast Guard, Oregon Department of State Lands, Metro, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For the most up-to-date information about this project, follow us on Twitter at @USCGPacificNW.

“Marines Commemorate 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal” –Seapower

Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, edited by M.Minderhoud

The Navy League’s Magazine “Seapower” reports on a ceremony to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the start of the Guadalcanal campaign, held in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Quite properly Vice Admiral Andrew Tiongson, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, was there representing the Coast Guard.

USS Hunter Liggett (APA-14) c1944.jpg

USS Hunter Liggett (APA-14) c. 1943-44

The Coast Guard manned transport USS Hunter Liggett was flagship of Task Force 62.1 which transported the 1st Marine Division, with Maj. Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, USMC, Commander ground forces, embarked. The story of Douglas Munro is well know, but there were other Coast Guard heros there as well. Ultimately the Coast Guard would suffer its largest single loss of personnel in the waters of Guadalcanal, when the Coast Guard manned ammunition ship USS Serpens (AK-97) exploded on January 29, 1945, while anchored off Laguna Beach.

Some stories:

The Long Blue Line: Tulagi’s Coxswains–the services 1st Silver Star recipients

The Long Blue Line: The “Green Hell” of Guadalcanal 80 years ago!

NOB Cactus, Guadalcanal, 1942

Gold Dust Twins: The Two Coast Guardsmen Who Saved Chesty Puller’s Marines on Guadalcanal

(U.S. Coast Guard)

“The Marines were being driven back to the beach and many did not have radios to request assistance. A single “HELP” spelled out in T-shirts on the ridge near the beach sent a loud and clear signal to those looking on.”

“This man is the only US Coast Guard recipient of the Medal of Honor”

Joseph Toahty, Pawnee Warrior Of Guadalcanal

Loss of USS Serpens (AK-97), Jan. 29, 1945

What Ever Happened to the “Six Bitters?”

Port side view of USS Cumberland as a receiving ship, US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, 1938 with former USCG 75 foot patrol boats in the foreground.

Just a small footnote in Coast Guard histroy I stumbled across. Apparently, 51 Coast Guard prohibition era 75 foot “six bitter” patrol boats were sold to the Navy in 1933/34 and at least a few of them ended up at the Naval Academy as training ships for midshipmen.

The link above “U.S.C.G. Patrol Craft Built before WWII (Six-Bitters, WPC, WSC)” “…lists the 317 patrol craft built or acquired by the U.S. Coast Guard from its organization in 1915 through the start of WWII.” I have added the link to my Heritage page.