Post WW II  Duty
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Post WWII SAR Duty

In his own words - Fred C. Noble. RD2 83412

I came aboard the 83412 in 1962 as a SNRD. She was stationed at Vallejo, CA. Her duties were SAR in the waters of Suisun Bay and San Pablo Bay between Sacramento and San Francisco, CA. The crew on the 83412 was a great group of guys and the duty was outstanding. We moored at a Naval Reserve Training Center at the foot of Vallejo Blvd, which was within walking distance of downtown Vallejo and across the estuary from Mare Isl. Naval Shipyard. Our mooring neighbors were a Sea Scout utility boat, an Army tug or utility and a decommissioned WW2 diesel submarine ( don't recall the name ).

My duties were varied as was the case with everyone but mainly I was the Radarman, Radioman, Quartermaster, ET and part time boat handler. The skipper was a BMC, we also had an EN1, EN2, BM2, CS3 , SA, FN, FA and myself. While in port we stayed on telephone standby for SAR calls from CG San Francisco. However, every Friday we set out for the weekend usually crewed with 4 or 5 We spent the weekend doing routine boarding inspections and responded to SAR radio calls from CGSF or private boats. When things were quite we tried to find a good Rockfish area and set out some lines for some fresh stripers. I don't know how many thousands of boats there were in the area but it seemed as if they all knew we were around whenever one went aground and needed a tow or some other emergency. It always amazed me to see where our boat could go. Those engines would push us up some water so skinny the depth finder showed no water under our belly and the mud bottom would be flying up in the air at the stern.

We had quite a few missing boats /persons calls several of which resulted in drowning and some of which ended up by us finding the boat at some marina with it's owner & party having a good time at the bar and neglecting to call their families who were worried because they were not back when they were expected. Also had a couple of calls to dock fires. With all that gasoline onboard we usually kept a pretty safe distance or we might have become part of it. One of the most serious calls we responded to one night was for a tug which was capsized by it's tow. By the time we reached the scene the tug had gone down. Two of the crew went overboard and were picked up, however, two other crewmen were in the berthing area and went down with the tug. We located the tug and worked with a couple of divers to retrieve the bodies. The only off shore trips we ever made ( out around the Fallon Islands ) was for a couple of day and night Ditch & Rescue exercises with a CG aircraft. Needless to say with only a Bendix surface radar and an RDF our scores were not that high for tracking and laying that bird down.

I was stationed on her for about 1 year, made RD3 and was transferred to the Rockaway in Staten Island, NY, finished my time in the CG on the "Rock" making RD2 and was discharged in Oct. 1964. I believe sometime in 1963 the 83412 was sailed to Cape May and decommissioned, boy would I have loved to make that trip.

I have a lot of good memories of those days and I don't have a single regret other than I would have loved to spend more time on the 83412.


 In his own words -- John Estep, RD2, 83491

Fresh out of Radarman school in Groton, Conn., I was transferred back to the 8th Coast Guard District in Sept.1956. After a couple weeks at COTP New Orleans, I was further transferred to Grand Isle, LA, aboard the WPB 83491

Life in Grand Isle was something less than I expected, mainly because of the environment. Never had I seen such persistent mosquitoes in my life. They would chase you at top speed until you were either under water or inside the refrigerator. They were so big that one would uncover you while the others would devour you and leave only blood spots on your rack.

So it came as a real pleasure to go back to New Orleans on a 72 hr. pass after my first three weeks under these conditions. But my pleasure was short lived when half way through my 72 hrs, we got word of an approaching storm, later to be named "FLOSSIE". So, my shipmates and I made it back to Grand Isle to start buttoning everything down. An 83-footer is no match for a hurricane, so we were to stay tied up to the dock and ride it out. (In later years I was in some pretty rough waters in the Caribbean.)

FLOSSIE began blowing her ugly breath on us about dark Sunday evening and never let up until nearly daylight Monday morning. At her height, she blew at about 115 MPH. The storm surge sent in a tide of about 10 to 15 ft so Grand Isle was totally under water. I was terrified not knowing if the old boat was going to make it or not. A lot of the shrimp boats in the area didn't. It was a sad looking area after FLOSSIE got through. We made it through with some minor damage to the boat, but I can't say the same about the island.

The seawall washed away in several places and left the whole island awash with sea waves. Humble Oil Co. had just finished filling low ground with dredging from off shore to make high ground for their demarcation point for the off-shore oil rigs, with heli-pads and quonset hut warehouses. All that was gone the next morning including the new fill for the low-ground.

There was a house moved across the street, turned around, an set down in another front yard almost as if it were built there, while down the street another was gone completely. The strangest sight of all was of a house with one whole corner blown off, but the bedroom suite was left intact including the pictures on the dresser.

We had boats in the street and cars in the channel. No electric service, no clean water other than what everyone saved in jugs. We spent the rest of the week, along with the compliment of the CGLBS Grand Isle, cleaning up and helping the locals take care of their needs. Needless to say, we made friends for life that week in Grand Isle, La., but the most rewarding part of this adventure was that the storm blew away the mosquitoes for a while.

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St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

In his own words -- John Estep , RD2, 83506 -- Summer, 1958

It was supposed to be semi-isolated duty, two years long, and before I arrived for duty I was a bit apprehensive since I hod no idea what and where"COMGANTS" was. I didn't get much help from anyone else at the district headquarters in New Orleans, from whence I came, either. The transfer was ablessing in disguise, though, since I was aboard the CG-83491 in Grand Isle. La.and had just ridden out a somewhat fierce hurricane, I was glad to leave the dive bombing mosquitoes behind.

Apprehension gave way to elation when I arrived in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, I remember saying. "This can't be the place, but I'll take it." I couldn't believe they called this "Semi-Isolated" duty. What kind of mistake had the Coast Guard made sending me here. I know I'll wake up and it will be Alaska! But 1was pleasantly surprised to find that this was the place they intended me to be.

The CG-83506 was an especially clean and well kept boat. The crew was serious about the task they were here for. Although we ran tropical routine while in port, we were

continuously on 30 minute standby to get under way and had to call in and leave a phone number while we were on liberty. That was somewhat of a downside but we got used to it. We practiced our speed of getting underway regularly and it proved to beneficialmore than once.

One instance in particular in the summer of 1958 we received a call from the Navy at Roosevelt Roads Air Station that one of their jets had flamed out and ditched some 20 miles from our location. We were underway almost immediately heading in the direction of the last known location. My rating being that of a radarman, I was on the scope right from the start. The seas were 3 to 5 feet and that tossed us around a little and it made it a little difficult to pick up small objects in the water with the radar, such as a pilot. The boat was pitching and rolling in the swells so that I couldn't get constant reading of the ocean surface. I told the skipper of the problem and he had all handson visual look-out. An 83-footer doesn't sit very high in the water, so we were having our limitations.

Since I was more responsible for being able to pick up a blip on the water, I felt the need to do something about it, so I asked permission from the skipper to climb the mast so that I could see out a little better. He agreed and up I went. There was a small platform were the old radar unit had been with a light standard sticking up in the middle of it. I sat down there and held on for dear life. After a couple of minutes getting used to the fairly violent swing of the mast I began my lookout duties.

The SAR mission went on for some time and we found several pieces of floating debris but no pilot. We kept getting continuous new locations where the pilot might be had he been able to either eject or get out after impact. There were numerous Navy helicopters in the area also. One of the choppers radioed that he had spotted the pilot and was moving in to make the pickup. We stood by white they picked him up. He was OK, but a little shaken and, of course, wet. We received an all clear from the Navy and I was able to climb down from my lofty perch. I never got a chance to do that lookout duty any more, but I did climb the mast again just to sit up there and look around. It was great duty.