Coast Guard Academy, home for 85 years

Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin

U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets in formation. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets in formation. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

In his 1925 annual report, Coast Guard Commandant Rear Adm. Frederick Billard addressed the need for improvement of the Coast Guard Academy’s facilities at Fort Trumbull in New London, Connecticut.

The academy had been at Fort Trumbull, an American Revolutionary War fort for 22 years. Before then, the Revenue Cutter School for Instruction had been in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Curtis Bay, Maryland.

In 1929, Congress allocated $1.75 million to the secretary of the treasury to begin work on a new Coast Guard Academy.

Not willing to lose the academy, the residents of New London, along with Billard’s wife, Clara, a New London-native, fought to keep the cadets in the area. The Coast Guard Academy purchased land on the Thames River and the town of New London donated additional land.

In January 1931, Jean Hamlet, daughter of Rear Adm. Harry G. Hamlet, academy superintendent, broke ground during a ceremony for the new Coast Guard Academy.

In May 1931, Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew W. Mellon, laid the cornerstone of Hamilton Hall.

Hamilton Hall at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Hamilton Hall is named after U.S. Coast Guard founder Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Hamilton Hall at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Hamilton Hall is named after U.S. Coast Guard founder Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The buildings of the new location were named in honor of Coast Guard heroes. Classes were to be held in Hamilton Hall, named after Alexander Hamilton. Cadets would be quartered in Chase Hall, named in honor of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase and the training ship Chase, which had served as cadet housing for several years. The athletic facility was named in honor of Billard.

The cadets moved into Chase Hall on Sept. 20, 1932, officially calling the new Academy “home.”

Satterlee Hall at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Satterlee Hall is named after Capt. Charles Satterlee, Class of 1898, who was the commanding officer the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tampa that sank after a deadly blow from a submarine on Sept. 25, 1918. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Satterlee Hall at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Satterlee Hall is named after Capt. Charles Satterlee, Class of 1898, who was the commanding officer the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tampa that sank after a deadly blow from a submarine on Sept. 25, 1918. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

With the new home came a few more changes to the academy. The length of the program was extended from three years to four, and the program of study was changed to bring the academy up to an Ivy League caliber of academics.

Cadets visit the Henriques Room within Hamilton Hall at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Henriques used to be a library before it was moved to Waesche Hall in 1974. Paintings on the walls of the Henriques Room depict various historical moments in Coast Guard history. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Cadets visit the Henriques Room within Hamilton Hall at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Henriques was a library before it was moved to Waesche Hall in 1974. Paintings on the walls of the Henriques Room depict various historical moments in Coast Guard history. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

From the Class of 1933, in the “Tide Rip:”

The Class of 1933, since the day of its inception in to the Academy, has been, to say the least, singular class. It has run the gauntlet of change in many and varied forms. Witness the changes in academic and executive staff, yea, even unto the superintendent, the initiation of drill periods in earnest, together with an altogether new system of class and Academy government, the substitution of a four-year course for our breathless three, the countless modifications and absolute changes in the regulations, the alteration in academic and cruise routines, the long-awaited transition from our old, well-known, ghost-haunted, Fort Trumbull to a resplendent and oh! so solid new academy, the Depression— ! We could go on, but we hesitate in confusion; we are becoming slightly tongue-tied.

And so, with the above serving partly as an apology and partly as a reason, and with bated breath, we assure you, with racing heart, we officer this hiatus in reasoning, this, our brain? child, TIDE RIPS ’33.

Since the start of the new Coast Guard Academy in 1932, many things changed to bring forward the academy of today.

1941– The academy was given the authority to grant the Bachelor of Science degree in addition to a commission as an ensign in the Coast Guard.

1943– The Coast Guard Academy starts accepting women in officer candidates program. The academy would go on to graduate more than 700 SPAR officers during the war.

1946– The Coast Guard Barque Eagle becomes the training ship at the academy.

1952– The chapel at the academy is completed.

1958– Rear Adm. Frank Leamy initiates the service academy superintendents’ conference.

1962– The academy’s physical education program expands.

1966– The first African-American cadet graduates alongside the first Hispanic and Native American cadets.

1975– The academy is the first federal service academy to admit women.

1980– 14 women graduate with the Class of 1980.

1987– The academy installs the Ship Control and Navigation Training Simulator.

1998– The Leadership Development Center is established.

Collage of various U.S. Coast Guard Academy locations in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

Collage of various U.S. Coast Guard Academy locations in New London, Conn. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

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