USCGC Cuyahoga (WIX-157)


USCGC Cuyahoga (WIX-157)

Class History

The Active Class Patrol Boats were one of the most useful and long lasting in the service. 33 ships were built with 16 cutters still in use in the 1960’s. The last to be decommissioned was the USCGC|Morris|WSC-147 in 1970; the last in service was the USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2, sunk in 1978. They were designed for the outer line of patrol during prohibition, trailing mother ships. They gained a reputation for durability only enhanced by their re-engining in the late 1930’s; their original 6-cylinder diesels were replaced by significantly more powerful 8-cylinder GE 268-A engines, each with 800 bhp that used the original engine beds and gave the vessels 3 additional knots. All served in World War II, and two, the USCGC|Jackson and USCGC|Bedloe, were lost in the Great Atlantic Hurricane in 1944. Ten were refitted as buoy tenders during the war and reverted to patrol work afterward.cite web
title =CUYAHOGA, 1927 WIX / WMEC / WSC-157
work =
publisher = US Coast Guard, Training Center Yorktown
date =12 July 2007
url =http://www.uscg.mil/tcyorktown/Info/cuyhistspecs.shtm
format =shtm
doi =
accessdate = 2007-11-17
] [Citation
title =USCGC McLane (WSC 146)
place=Seattle, Washington,
pages=6
publisher =USCG Integrated Support Command Worklife (Retiree Council)
year =2006
location =Seattle, Washington,
volume =Volume 6
edition =Issue 4
url =http://www.cgretirenw.org/fileupload/uploads/Winter_2006.pdf
isbn =
]

ervice History

US Coast Guard (WSC-157)

The USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157 was built by American Brown Boveri, launched 27 January 1927 and commissioned 3 March 1927 at Camden, New Jersey. After commissioning, she saw duty in the Atlantic enforcing prohibition, intercepting rumrunners.

US Navy (AG-2)

On 29 May 1933 USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2 arrived at the Washington Navy Yard and commissioned in the US Navy on 1 April 1935 as AG-2, a tender for the Presidential Yacht USS|Potomac|AG-25.

US Coast Guard (WIX-157)

She returned to Coast Guard jurisdiction on 17 May 1941 and recommissioned by the Coast Guard at the Washington Navy Yard on that day. She arrived at her new permanent station at Baltimore, Maryland 20 May 1941.

On 17 January 1942 her permanent station was changed from Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia, where she reported to Commander Defense Area Group for duty. During World War II the USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2 was on escort duty attached to Commander Eastern Sea Frontier and Commander Caribbean Sea Frontier. From October 1942 to June 1945 she spent the majority of her time in the Caribbean Sea, usually escorting vessels between Guantanamo Bay, Trinidad and Paramaribo. During the war the USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2 was armed with one 3"/23 caliber anti­aircraft gun and two depth charge racks.

After the war, the USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2 operated out of Norfolk until May 1946 when she, along with the "Calypso", was placed "In Commission-Reserve" status due to personnel shortages. In April 1947 the USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2 was transferred from Norfolk to the United States Coast Guard Yard‎ at Curtis Bay, Maryland and worked with the Field Testing and Development Unit except for occasional engineering and other operational activities.

From 1957 to 1959 she was assigned to New London, Connecticut for training officer candidates. Later in 1959 arrived at Yorktown, Virginia where she continued to provide training for officer candidates.

Collision and Sinking

On October 20, 1978, the USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2 was the oldest commissioned vessel in Coast Guard service and was conducting a night-time training cruise during clear weather. She was heading north at 12 knots in the Chesapeake Bay off Smith Point Light near the mouth of the Potomac River. At 8:45pm, Officer Candidate Officer of the Deck Earl Fairchild reported sighting a light on the northern horizon. The Commanding Officer, Chief Warrant Officer Donald K. Robinson confirmed this observation and after evaluating the radar contact misidentified the contact as a small vessel, likely a fishing boat turning into the Potomac River at 15,700 yards. In fact, it was the 521 foot Argentinian bulk freighter, "M/V Santa Cruz II" , loaded with 19,000 tons of coal, bound for San Nicolas, Argentina traveling south at over 14 knots.cite book
last =Shomette
first =Donald
authorlink =
title =Shipwrecks on the Chesapeake
publisher =Tidewater Publishers
date =1982
location =Centreville, Maryland
pages =228-237
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 0-87-033-283-X
]

The pilot of the "Santa Cruz", John P. Hamill identified the USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2, and neither he nor the ship's Captain Abdelardo Albornoz were concerned as the two ships appeared to be passing port-to-port. When the two vessels were 1,200 yards apart the USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2 turned west, into the path of the "Santa Cruz", to enter the Potomac River. Hamill immediately sounded the "Santa Cruz"'s whistle signaling that he would maintain course and speed and that the cutter should return to its original course. After waiting 30 seconds without any response from the USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2, Hamill sounded a danger warning of five short blasts.

Robinson still believed the vessel was a small fishing boat and that it was also turning into the Potomac River, sounded his whistle in acknowledgement and turned further west. Robinson realized that he was about to collide with a freighter and ordered "all engines stop," then "full reverse". At 9:07pm, the bulbous underwater bow of the "Santa Cruz" tore through "Cuyahoga's" midship, 40 feet from the stern, rolling her over at a 50 degree angle. Robinson had reversed back into the path of the "Santa Cruz".

The USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2 sank within two minutes of the collision in 58 feet of water. The cutter's 14-foot utility boat had popped free of the sinking vessel and Boatswains Mate Roger Wild put the injured survivors in the boat. The un-injured clung to the sides of the boat until the freighter had returned to pick up survivors. 11 onboard the USCGC |Cuyahoga|WIX-157|2 were lost, 18 survived.

On October 29, two U.S. Navy floating cranes were brought to the scene and the ship was raised and towed to Portsmouth, Virginia where the hole was patched. On November 26, it was decided to scuttle the ship of the Virginia Capes. The vessel was towed 15 miles offshore and sunk as an artificial fishing reef where she sits upright in 100 feet of water. [cite web
title =USCGC CUYAHOGA (WIX 157) Memorial
publisher =US Coast Guard, Training Center Yorktown
date = 31 October 2007
url =http://www.uscg.mil/tcyorktown/Info/cuyahoga.shtm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-11-17
]

The Marine Casualty Report, number USCG 16732 / 92368 and dated July 31, 1979, concluded:quotation
"The Commandant has determined that the proximate cause of the casualty was that the commanding officer of the USCGC CUYAHOGA failed to properly identify the navigation lights displayed by the M/V SANTA CRUZ II. As a result he did not comprehend that the vessels were in a meeting situation, and altered the CUYAHOGA's course to port taking his vessel into the path of the SANTA CRUZ II." [Citation
author-link =US Coast Guard
title =Marine Casualty Report, number USCG 16732 / 92368
date = 1979-07-31
year = 1979
]

References


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