Pritchard’s Grumman Duck in the icy waters of Greenland before taking flight on his final rescue mission. (U.S. Coast Guard)

The Long Blue Line: Pritchard and Bottoms – Last of the Coast Guard’s MIAs

Like many selfless Coast Guardsmen, Lt. John Pritchard and Petty Officer First Class Benjamin Bottoms, a radioman, went in harm’s way to save lives only to sacrifice their own. During World War II, the Coast Guard ran the Greenland theatre of operations. It was one of the war’s deadliest battlegrounds, where men fought not only the enemy, but the elements as well.


Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadets Marshall Grant, Ali Re, Terry Jung and Third Class Cadet Linda Duncan receive information from Brett Seymore, a member of the National Park Service, before diving in the water near the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Aug. 1, 2018.

Tears of the Arizona, a corrosion study

Cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy conduct a long-term corrosion study on the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that will help to determine when the submerged hull of the sunken ship might collapse and release oil.


North Arabian Gulf - Coast Guardsmen onboard the U.S. Coast Guard Boutwell chat on the flight deck following refueling operations at sunset March 23, 2003.

The Long Blue Line: PATFORSWA – largest Coast Guard unit outside the US

Naval operations supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom began with the U.S. Navy in the summer of 2002. The Navy drew on its plans for combat operations in Iraq, and in September 2002, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command requested U.S. Coast Guard support for combat operations.


Small boat showing the minimal protection for boat and crew of flak vests and battle helmets. Photo courtesy of Gordon M. Gillies.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard small boat ops in Vietnam

During the Vietnam War, the 82-foot “Point”-Class cutters of Squadron One supported small boat reconnaissance missions. Their missions required the small boats to probe the canals and waterways of South Vietnam. These missions gathered intelligence regarding enemy weapons, troop movements, fortified positions and bunkers. Check out the blog to learn more about these dangerous operations, carried out at night and giving new meaning to the service’s old saying, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.”


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ship Nancy Foster is shown underway. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster

The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have a long history together from tracking storms to helping search for cutters on the ocean floor that never made it home. Our Coast Guard historians continue to work with NOAA to share these historical maritime stories.


Illustration of the Potomac Flotilla attacking Confederate fortifications at Aquia Creek, south of Washington on the Potomac in 1861. Courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command.

The Long Blue Line: Lighthouse tender and warship with the heart of a lion

In the early days of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, tenders were vessels equipped with lifting apparatus to deliver heavy cargo and construction materials to lighthouses. Such was the case with Lighthouse Tender Van Santvoort that was later renamed Coeur de Leon, meaning lion-hearted. The tender supported the construction of the famous Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse and aided in the development of hot air balloon technology.


The RDT&E Program has even advanced into working in space-based technologies with the DHS/Coast Guard Polar Scout Program. Two small satellites or “cubesats” capable of detecting transmissions from emergency position indicating radio beacons will be deployed this fall to evaluate their ability to detect and geolocate distress transmission in an Arctic environment and provide signal information to a special network of ground stations.

Coast Guard RDT&E Program celebrates 50 years

During its 50 years of existence, the RDT&E Program has completed research that has been vital to the successful advancement of Coast Guard missions including search and rescue, aids to navigation, spill response, and port and cybersecurity as well as supporting the acquisition of new assets such as the national security cutter, offshore patrol cutter and unmanned aircraft system capability.


The Life-Saving Service crew that manned the Chicamacomico Station in 1918 when the famous Mirlo rescue took place. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Mirlo Rescue—the Coast Guard’s baptism of fire!

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the British tanker SS Mirlo near Cape Hatteras off North Carolina’s Outer Banks. A German U-boat shot a torpedo at the British ship causing it to explode. Chicamacomico Coast Guard Station in Rodanthe, North Carolina, initiated a rescue operation with station keeper John Allen Midgett at the fore. Midgett and his men improvised the at-sea fire rescue saving 42 British merchant mariners without the loss of a single surfman.


Photograph of USS McKean (APD-5) in camouflage paint scheme. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

The Long Blue Line: Tulagi’s coxswains – the service’s 1st Silver Star recipients

The Navy awarded the Silver Star medal to four U.S. Coast Guard coxswains, Daniel Tarr, William Sparling, Harold Miller and Glen Harris, for landing the first wave of Raiders and delivering vitally needed equipment, ammunition and supplies.


A U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew lands at a softball field at a Coast Guard housing facility in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Sept. 22, 2017. The housing facility was used for Coast Guard personnel to shelter in place for Hurricane Maria and some operations were based there as damages were repaired to the Coast Guard base Sector San Juan, which is adjacent to San Juan harbor in Puerto Rico. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Zach Zubricki.

Surviving Hurricane Maria

The U.S. Coast Guard members who work at Sector San Juan had already been hit with Hurricane Irma but just two weeks later, they had to relocate and hunker down 10 miles away at Bayamon while Hurricane Maria wrought even more destruction to the island of Puerto Rico. Weeks later, those same member worked tirelessly to rebuild and become operational again.


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