View Full Version : The United States Coast Guard

07-13-2007, 02:13 AM
The Coast Guard’s role during the invasion has often been overlooked. Nevertheless, the service deserves more than a nod of appreciation from those who now enjoy the fruits of the Allied victory. The Coast Guard manned 99 vessels for Operation NEPTUNE (the amphibious phase of Operation OVERLORD) and lost more vessels that day than at any
time during its history. Sixty of these were 83-foot cutters. The rescue flotilla patrolled off the five American and British beaches, saving more than 400 Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen on D-Day alone, and by the time the unit was decommissioned, they had pulled 1,438 from the English Channel.
On D-Day at UTAH Beach, the Coast Guard-manned attack transport Bayfield served as the flagship for Assault Force “U”. Two other Coast Guard-manned attack transports and twelve LCIs transported troops to the beach during the initial landings at UTAH. Ten cutters from Rescue Flotilla One patrolled in support of this landing force. At OMAHA Beach, two Coast Guard-manned attack transports and twelve LCIs landed troops. Twenty cutters worked rescue at OMAHA Beach. U.S. Coast Guard support to British, Canadian, and French forces attacking GOLD, JUNO, and SWORD beaches included 29 cutters from Rescue Flotilla One and four LSTs. During the months following the invasion, Coast Guard vessels remained off the coast of Normandy to transport reinforcements and supplies from Great Britain.

I knew the CG are part of the US Armed Forces, and I knew they did a fair bit in Vietnam. But didn't know they did this sort of stuff in WW2.

Fm http://www.vcorps.army.mil/History/dday_60th_anniv/Normandy%20Pamphlet..pdf

It has been copied from a printed booklet so the pages are everywhere but a good read, non the less.

07-13-2007, 02:39 PM
The Coast Guard has a battle history going back to 1790.

07-13-2007, 03:11 PM
I knew the CG are part of the US Armed Forces, and I knew they did a fair bit in Vietnam. But didn't know they did this sort of stuff in WW2.

Fm http://www.vcorps.army.mil/History/dday_60th_anniv/Normandy%20Pamphlet..pdf

It has been copied from a printed booklet so the pages are everywhere but a good read, non the less.

The Coast Guard has always had a bit of an odd chain of command. They are considered military personnel under the United Code of Military Justice and not civil law despite being under federal civil agencies. In peace time they, were previously under the Department of Transportation and now, are under the Dept. of Homeland Security. But in wartime, their mission changes and they fall under the US Navy and perform various functions.

Among other things in WWII, coast guardsmen were amongst the first Americans to fight Germans on land, as they secured German weather stations in Greenland...

07-14-2007, 01:53 AM
few random facts on the USCG and icebreakers.

Before 1940 teh USCG didn't have any icebreakers, although they did have some British built Arctic vessels these were not icebreakers.

As war became imminent, there was increased urgency in the study of icebreakers. In 1941, shortly after Hitler invaded Russia, arrangements were made for the Soviet icebreaker Krassin to be transferred temporarily to the U.S. The planned eight month loan was cut short at less than four, but long enough for the Coast Guard to study her thoroughly. She was about 10,000 tons and 10,000 horsepower, with reciprocating steam engines driving three screws (presumably one of them forward). Though she had been built in 1917 and had much wood in her construction, many of her features were later found in American icebreakers.

Wartime exigencies prevented the Coast Guard from extended use of three vessels: Northwind, Southwind, and Westwind. The first was immediately transferred to the Soviet Union under Lend Lease; the latter two served in the U.S. the winter of 1944 and then followed Northwind to the USSR. The three were returned to the U.S. in the early 1950s: the Westwind to the Coast Guard in 1951; the Northwind and Southwind to the Navy in in 1951 and 1950 respectively. The two navy ships were turned over to the Coast Guard in 1966.

Greenland waters provided the arena for the Coast Guard icebreakers' most visible contribution to the war effort. On April 9, 1941, President Roosevelt pledged U.S. support to Denmark in resisting any Nazi attempt to take the island. The security of the Western Hemisphere depended in part on preventing it from falling into enemy hands, as both escort and emergency vessels for the Atlantic convoys were based there. Consequently the Coast Guard became a major part of the Greenland Patrol, operating some 24 vessels in her waters, about eleven of which were equipped for icebreaking. Among these were the veteran Northland, the 165 foot Modoc and Comanche (with their reinforced bows), the wooden icebreaker North Star, three 110 foot cutters, three 180 footers, the Storis, and finally, the old Bear (now part of the Navy, she was operated by Coast Guard personnel.) The new Eastwind and Southwind were also on duty in Greenland waters during the last winter of the war.

Under Commander Edward H. "Iceberg" Smith, the Greenland Patrol began in earnest in the summer of 1941, with orders from Chief of Naval Operations "to do a little of everything," as Naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison put it. This included keep convoy routes open, break leads through ice when necessary, search and rescue, escort and patrol duty, run surveys, maintain communications among Greenland and U.S. bases on the island, and report weather and ice conditions. Above and beyond these, the Coast Guard was to search out and destroy German weather and radio stations and keep supplies coming to isolated Eskimo and Danish communities.

The first American naval capture of the war was carried out by the cutter Northland in September, 1941 - three months before Pearl Harbor. In a surprise night raid, a German radio camp was seized, with three operators, their codes, plans and the vessel on which they infiltrated the island. Again, in 1944, the Northland destroyed another enemy radio shack, and, after a chase through thickening ice packs, forced the surrender of a German trawler crew. The German commander's sword became a decoration on the icebreaker's wardroom wall.

In October of the same year, another radio station was discovered and eliminated by the crew of the Eastwind, after a night plowing through ice. The captured Germans had come from the freighter transport Externsteine, which had become frozen in the ice near where the cutter had begun her previous night's sortie. In one of the most unusual captures of the war, both Eastwind and Southwind shelled the vessel and she surrendered.

A few heroics aside, most of the Coast Guard's Greenland Patrol duties were monotonous, onerous, and accomplished without fanfare. However, their contribution to the Battle of the Atlantic was far from an insignificant one.


More here too

07-14-2007, 11:43 AM
My brothers were both in the Coast Guard...

They used to get into arguments with Naval and Army personnel over the typical "coasties are pussies" thing, and they'd get called "life guards" or something. My one brother, stationed in Florida during the late 1980s, would retort something like: "How many times have you been locked and loaded with an M-16A1, or a 12-gauge shotgun, covering a drug dealer in a cigarette-boat that was hiding a MAC-10?" They'd usually shut up.

My brother's station had also taken sniper fire, one of his buddies was run off the road (probably because he had a USCG sticker on his car), and the USCG was not popular with local fisherman who carried small quantities of drugs to supplement their meager incomes...

07-14-2007, 01:25 PM
I knew the CG are part of the US Armed Forces, and I knew they did a fair bit in Vietnam. But didn't know they did this sort of stuff in WW2.


07-15-2007, 02:29 AM
You paint a lovely picture of where your brothers work there Nick, sniper fire and road rage :s

07-15-2007, 05:58 AM
The full list of publications on US Coast Guard activities during WW2 can be found at:

The U.S. Coast Guard in World War II (http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/)

* Ships of the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II (http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ships/ships-cg.html)
All U.S. Coast Guard vessel types. Listing ships by type and class, with descriptions and links to pages for individual ships--giving profile, characteristics, history, and photographs of the ship.
* Coast Guard-Manned Naval Vessels in World War II (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/h_cgnvy.html)
* United States Coast Guard Home Page (http://www.uscg.mil/)
* From the U.S. Coast Guard Historian:
o The Coast Guard at War (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/h_CGatwar.html)
o Coast Guard Units in Hawaii on December 7, 1941 (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/PearlHarbor.html)
o The Coast Guard's Role in Hawaii During the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941! (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/PearlHarborNarrative.html)
o The Coast Guard and the North Atlantic Campaign in World War II (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/h_AtlWar.html)
o The Coast Guard and the Pacific War in World War II (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/h_pacwar.html)
o Douglas Munro, the Coast Guard and the Guadalcanal Campaign (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/Munro.html)
o The Coast Guard and the Greenland Patrol (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/h_greenld.html)
o Coast Guard Captains of the Port (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/h_cptprt.html)
o The U.S. Coast Guard at Normandy (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/h_normandy.html)
o The Coast Guard & the Women's Reserve in World War II (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/h_wmnres.html)
o Beach Patrol and Corsair Fleet (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/h_beachpatrol.html)

(1000ydstare and AllHailCesar have already posted a couple of the publication links)

07-16-2007, 10:32 AM
Here is a good site re: USCG.