The Beginning and WW II
Walter J. Mcinnis was appointed design agent 6 Dec. 1940 to develop the plans for the 83-foot class. The design was completed 19 Mar 41. The design called for a wood-hull craft; the hull form was the round bilged type, single planked, with a full-length flush main deck, a wheelhouse and side spray shields with a raised, exposed, (and often very wet and cold) steering station aft of the wheelhouse (flying bridge), and was powered by twin Sterling Viking II gasoline engines. Electrical power was supplied by one of two generators powered by 4-cylinder gasoline engines. Three gasoline tanks, amidships, held a total of 1,900 gallons of gasoline. Crews averaged 13. Besides the captain and chief boatswain's mate, there were three motor machinist mates, one fireman, one radar-sonar man, one gunners mate, three boatswain mates, two seamen, and a cook.
Forty units were contracted to Wheeler Shipyard, Inc.. Brooklyn. NY. WW II started before this contract was completed and subsequent contracts for 44. 40, 100 and 6 units were awarded. A total of 230 units were eventually built for the Coast Guard.
The first 136 cutters (83300-83435) were fitted with an Everdur bronze wheelhouse These were prefabricated in Boston, MA and shipped by rail car to the Wheeler Yard. Later units (83436-83529) had plywood wheelhouses because of a shortage of bronze. Those 83-footers operating above Cape Henry. VA. were ice sheathed. All the craft were capable of 20.6 kts full speed at time of delivery, but their performance was degraded by machinery wear as well as the increased displacement from armaments – mouse traps forward, depth charge racks ( amidships and aft), a 20-mm gun aft, ready boxes, radar and sonar (see exceptions above).
Twelve additional units were built for the USN and transferred to Cuba (4), the Dominican Republic (3). Haiti (1). and Venezuela (4). Nineteen Coast Guard units were also transferred to Latin American navies during the war -- the navies of Cuba (8), Colombia (2). Peru (6), and Mexico (3).
During WW II (1941-45) the cutters were used for antisubmarine patrol (Sub- Busters), coastal convoy escort, and search and rescue. At 8.2 knots the cutters had a patrol range of 575 miles.
In the spring 1944, 60 cutters were shipped to Great Britain and became USCG Rescue Flotilla No. 1 -- based at Poole. England.
In Jan 1945. 30 cutters were shipped to COMSERV7THFLEET in the PHILSEAFRON as USCG PTC Flotilla Number One and operated out of Manicani Island, just south of the island of Samar near Leyte -- none of these units had served in Europe and none were returned to the United States -- all were decommissioned in the Philippines and disposed of by the Foreign Liquidation Commission (an organ of the U.S. State Department)
Also, in 1945, 24 additional cutters were shipped to the Pacific to serve in Advance Base Harbor Defense Force (ABHD) (code name LION) at bases in Okinawa and Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, and Saipan and Guam in the Mariana Islands – 4 of these units had served in Europe.
The ultimate use of these 54 cutters was to serve as rescue craft during the expected invasion of Japan.
The CG-83525 hosted a Japanese surrender on board, 4 Sept 1945 at anchor off the SW tip of Tinian. The skipper of 83525 was Lt. (jg) Frank Judson, USCG. The signing that day for the Japanese military garrison of Aguijan Island, off Tinian, was 2nd Lt. Kinichi Yamada and representing the United States was Rear Admiral Marshall R. Greer, USN, COMM Fleet Air Wing 18 based in Tinian. Larry Richter (CG Retired) has done much research (with pictures) on this. See Japanese Surrender of Aguijan Island . Also included is a link to a short, interesting history about the surrender.
The cutters were known to be deployed in 41 ports in North America. The number shown below after the port name is the number of times a different cutter was assigned to that port . A cutter did not necessarily stay in that port in that they were transferred elsewhere (e.g. to England and the Pacific) and another cutter may or may not have taken its place. Also, delivery of new cutters took place between 1941 through 1944. The number does NOT tell how many cutters were assigned to a port at any given time.
NOTE: When a cutter number is listed, a sailor has provided
that information. Ports w/o a number after it were also provided by a
Following WW II most Coast Guard 83-footers that were in the USA were in a decommissioned status. The cutters were coated with a preservative while in storage. Sixty-one cutters were modified (ASW gear removed and 20-mm moved forward) and assigned peace time duties such as SAR, HEP and a few COTP.
Thirty-five of these cutters were deposed of in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. (Sold, sunk, burned, etc.)