Gary Thomas, executive director of the Foundation for Coast Guard History's individual achievement award for his service on the tiger naming team to help identify relatives of former enlisted Coast Guard heroes.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Cmdr. Bill McKinstry

The Foundation for Coast Guard History presented an individual achievement award to Cmdr. Bill McKinstry for volunteering to serve on the fast response cutter naming tiger team. The team helps identify and locate relatives of former enlisted personnel heroes who were under consideration as possible FRC namesakes.


Picture of the medium endurance cutter Vigilant, homeported in Cape Canaveral, Fla. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Vigilant – distinguished name, OPC namesake

The Coast Guard commissioned the 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter Vigilant (WMEC-617) in 1964, which means it has served this nation nearly 55 years. During those many years, the cutter has performed the missions of maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, homeland security, national defense and international engagement. The Coast Guard will soon build the “Heritage”-Class 360-foot Offshore Patrol Cutters with Vigilant as the 10th in the first flight of OPCs and 11th service vessel to bear this name.


Historians believe this to be a rendering of the cutter Pickering. If so, it is the earliest known rendering of a U.S. revenue cutter. Illustration courtesy of Coast Guard Historian’s Office.

The Long Blue Line: Combat Cutter Pickering—lost 220 years ago, now an OPC namesake

During the Quasi War, U.S. naval authorities considered the Pickering one of their finest combat cutters. Today, 220 years later, Pickering will be recognized and remembered as one of the Coast Guard’s newest class of cutters. The cuttermen of Pickering and their heroic cutter will always remain a part of the long blue line.


Tony Agresta, second from right, plays the trumpet with a band. Photo courtesy of the Agresta family.

A big band coastie and his Italian prisoners go to town in WWII

This is a story of a young seaman during WWII who befriended POWs over Betty Gable movies, played trumpet in the United States Coast Guard orchestra band in Charleston, South Carolina, and spent his later years performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey. It’s not a story well-known, but a story worth knowing.


The Long Blue Line: Buoy Tender White Alder—lost 50 years ago, but not forgotten

On Saturday, December 7, 1968, White Alder was steaming down-bound on the Mississippi River. At approximately 6:30 p.m., it collided with the up-bound motor vessel Helena, a 455-foot Taiwanese freighter. The 133-foot buoy tender sunk in 75 feet of water with three of its crew surviving, the rest entombed in the sunken cutter.


A vintage photograph showing Fessenden after the cutter’s 1883 conversion to an iron hull showing the coal smoke blowing forward from a tailwind. (Historic New England)

The Long Blue Line: William Fessenden—the man and his cutters

In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Maine Senator William Fessenden to be the 26th Secretary of the Treasury. Fessenden was faced with the Federal Government’s insatiable demand for funding for the war effort. With the aid of private Civil War financiers, Fessenden developed successful short-term loans holding generous interest rates that became popular with northerners. Named for this important public servant, Revenue Cutter Fessenden was one of two vessels contracted by the Treasury Department.


A computer rendering of the Coast Guard’s new Offshore Patrol Cutter. Rendering courtesy of Eastern Shipbuilding Group.

The Long Blue Line: Argus – first “Heritage” Class Offshore Patrol Cutter

Named for the 100-eyed giant of Greek mythology known as “the all-seeing one,” Argus was one of the first vessels completed of Alexander Hamilton’s fleet of 10 revenue cutters. Argus will soon be the first of the “Heritage” Class of Offshore Patrol Cutters that will become the mainstay of the Coast Guard’s ocean-going fleet. These cutters are meant to provide multi-mission capabilities similar to the first 10 revenue cutters.


A 1943 photograph showing the commandant, Vice Adm. Russell Waesche, during a tour of wartime Coast Guard forces in the field. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Waesche – the Coast Guard’s wartime leader, second founding father

Adm. Russell Waesche was responsible for the expansion of the service and improved the traditional functions of the Coast Guard during his 10 years as commandant. His administration intensified Coast Guard activity in the Great Lakes and added new missions of the Coast Guard including marine safety, icebreaking, and aids-to-navigation. One could say Waesche’s tenure as Coast Guard commandant was the most productive and successful in Coast Guard history; one could say he was the second founder of the Coast Guard.


The Coast Guard Cutter Dependable underway in the Eastern Pacific Ocean on patrol. The Cutter Dependable's crew returned to their homeport, Virginia Beach, Va., after a two-month patrol of the Eastern Pacific Ocean May 4, 2017. During this patrol, the crew seized over 8,000 pounds of cocaine with an estimated value of $122 million which will be used as evidence to prosecute 19 suspected smugglers. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Dependable.

The Long Blue Line: Cutter Dependable—50 Years of “Credibility Built on Excellence”

Today marks the golden anniversary of the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable’s service in the Coast Guard. Over its distinguished 50 years of service, the cutter and its crews have earned countless honors and awards for law enforcement, living marine resources, search and rescue and humanitarian missions they have conducted.


A Veterans Day rescue and remembrance

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy honors Academy graduates who are considered service heroes. This year, the Academy inducted Lt. Mark Feldman into the Wall of Gallantry for saving the lives of two plane crash survivors near Detroit on Veterans Day in 1986.


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