The 83 Footer
Home The 83 Footer History Photo Album Forum Databases Reunions The Iron Sailors Whats New

                                                                         This site has no official connection to the US Coast Guard



Take a Tour

Turn On Your Java To See The Applet
Green Moon

The 83 Footer

The cutter's over all length was 83' 2" and 78' at the waterline with a beam of 16' 2". Displacement was 76 tons and maximum draft was 5' 4'. The hull form was round bildge and singled planked. (Cutters operating above 37 degrees North were ice sheathed.) It had 7 watertight bulkheads (which were made of hefty plywood) and 8 compartments. The fore most compartment was the chain locker which was accessible only from the main deck near the anchor windlass.


Don Gardner, USCG RMCS (Ret) .then an SA, had this to say about the anchor windlass (~1950):
"The anchor windlass was operated by hand winching. On 83312 the Seamen hated this as two of us had to use baseball bat-shaped handles. While one Seaman would winch one way, the other Seaman would winch the other way, giving a fairly even pulling motion on the anchor chain. Two Baldt anchors were used: 75 lbs and 150 lbs. "

 Next came the crew's head with a sink, head and 3 lockers which were use for crew personal gear. There was no running water. Hand pumps were used at the sinks. For hot water one put a pot on the galley stove. No mention of a shower?––there wasn't one!  In the 50's some cutters had an electric pump installed for cold water only.

Captain Ken Frank,   USCG  (Ret.) Had this to say about the crew’s head:" Memories abound, but I’m sure that one area of common interest known to all the [83'] sailors was the crew’s head.  All boat designs have good points and bad, but the eighty-three footer’s crew head, way forward and was unequivocally a floating booby trap.  When the boat was moored the head behaved as expected and all was well, but at sea, especially a rough sea, the problem centered  around a small check valve that was supposed (in theory) to close off the sea inlet until the manual flush pump was activated.  In reality what happened was that as the boat plunged downward, if the hapless mariner lifted the pump handle, even a little, he was immediately propelled skyward by a stream of cold salt water!”

A water tight door connected the head with the forecastle . The forecastle bunks were arranged in 3 tiers (one starboard and 2 port) and 4 high. The bunks were made of pipe with lashed canvas bottoms and a very thin mattress. Additional crew lockers were on the aft bulkhead. In the center of the forecastle a ladder and overhead hatch lead to the forward main deck . A ventilator was located on the starboard side of the hatch. ( after WW II some cutter  ventilators were changed from "scoops" to powered fans).


Aft and on the starboard side was a small compartment for part of the sonar gear–when installed. Also, on the aft bulkhead was the second watertight door which lead to the galley/mess, and OIC’s and EO/XO’s quarters which also contained a ventilator, head, sink, ladder and hatch which lead to the main deck behind the flying bridge.



 The galley had an electric stove, sink, lockers and a household type refrigerator–which was always open. In the mess area was the mess table with bench seats and a radio receiver–and later a TV –which provided entertainment for the crew. During WW II 2 bunks graced the port side of the galley. (Post WW II an oil fired water heater, which provided hot water heat, was located aft near the mess table. (WW II heat was provided by the generators coolant water.) On the port side near the head of the mess table was a ladder and hatch leading to the wheelhouse.

The next compartment contained the 3 gas tanks which held a total of 1,900 gallons. There was no access except by a sealed deck hatch. Next was the engine room compartment with ladder and hatch fore and aft, and 2 ventilators. In addition to the engines and generators detailed below, the engine room had the main electrical power distribution panel, bilge pump, engine/generator starting batteries, small work bench, a small "desk" on the aft bulkhead and a lube oil storage tank. Aft of the engine room was a storage compartment for spares, drinking water tank and a fuel tank for the heating system. Access was provided by a deck hatch and ladder. The last compartment was the lazarette. Access was by a round flush deck hatch. The 2 rudder posts and associated hardware were aft. There were provisions for a small "scoop" ventilator. The two 8 inch main engine water cooled exhaust pipes ran aft from the engine room through the storage compartment and lazarette and exited through the transom just above the waterline.

The wheel house was forward of amidships on the main deck and had a steering wheel, engine controls and compass (these were removed during the ASW Mod on some cutters in the ‘50s to make room for the sonar gear) .  During WW II the wheelhouse had rack for the Raising .45 cal sub-machine guns next to hatch/ladder.  Electronic gear were CG (4? channel) AM radio, aircraft radios (in the 50's an FM CG radio was added), a radar, RDF and after WW II, some cutters had a loran receiver. The loran used a CRT and one looked at "grass"!. There was no depth finder. On the aft-port side bulkhead there was a watertight door which lead to the main deck inside the spray shields. Each spray shield held a search/blinker light. The flying bridge was on a raise platform and open to the elements. A windshield provide the only protection. The flying bridge had a compass, wheel and engine controls. To the rear was the flag signal box and the mast with yardarms, radar dome, towing running lights and deck light. Attached to the mast was the water heater Charlie Noble .


Some of the hardware attached to the main deck were altered or removed with the change of mission. WW II ASW configuration had mouse traps forward, depth charge racks, several ready boxes, and the 20-mm gun aft. The post WW II SAR configuration had the 20-mm gun forward with one ready box,  towing bits  and a taff rail with 180 degrees of sweep. In the early ‘50s an ASW mod was done on some cutters and these cutters essentially reverted back to the WW II configuration.

Main Engines

 Sterling Viking II, Model TCG-8

Made by Sterling Engine Company, Buffalo, New York

 The 83 footer was twin screw cutter.  Each gasoline engine was an in-line eight cylinder, four stroke (cycle) with eight inch bore, nine inch stroke, a displacement of 3619.1 cubic inches, and developed  600 HP @ 1,200 RPM.  The  gear ratio was 1 to 1. Gear shifting (forward-neutral-reverse) was by Panish Controls.  Physical engine dimension (approximate) were:  weight 6 tons, length 12 feet, width three and 3/4 feet and height four feet above engine bed.  There were four cylinder heads (two cylinders per head) each weighing 240 pounds.  Each cylinder had 2 each intake and exhaust valves.  The  12 volt ignition system was quadruple which required two dual distributors, four spark coils and 32 spark plugs (four per cylinder).  Two 12 volt starter motors, with reduction gears, were used to start the engine.  Carburetion was provided by four Zenith updraft carburetors. Each engine held 35 gallons of lube oil. The exhaust pipe diameter was 8 inches. Several 83 footers  were powered by Sterling Viking diesel engines.  It is not known at this time how many.. Known  were the 83486, 83312, 83497  and possibly the 83487.  The 83312 was converted ~1950.


There were two  Kohler four cylinder gasoline engines driving generators. A generator produced 120/240 volts, 60 cycles AC, and  ~ 7,000 watts.  Each had a built in battery charging unit.  

  Fuel and Fuel Consumption

 There were three fuel tanks (port, starboard and amidships) that held a total of 1,900 gallons of gasoline. At full power (1,200 RPM) and 18 ½ knots, fuel consumption was 120 gallons per hour.  Cruising speed at 1.000 RPM was around 12 knots and fuel consumption was 100 GPH.

Main Engine Instruction Manual

Excerpts provided by Ralph Gallant, ENCS, Ret

Left Side



Right Side


Foreword. Subject Index and  Table of Contents




Table of Specifications



Accessories Supplied

Overhaul Standard Clearances



Engine Performance Data