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.”


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 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.


The June 1936 simultaneous commissioning of Campbell, Duane, Ingham and Taney at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: 327-foot Secretary Class Cutters “the ships that wouldn’t die”

The Secretary-class cutters proved very dependable, versatile and long-lived warships. They became the backbone of the Coast Guard’s high-endurance cutter fleet after World War II and served as maritime workhorses performing all of the missions demanded of high seas cutters.


Petty Officer Second Class Paul F. Floge, a Coast Guard reservist with Coast Guard Port Security Unit 311 out of San Pedro, Calif., provides security with a .50 caliber machine gun on the Khawr al Amaya oil terminal off the coast of Iraq. Flodge, who works full time for the Los Angeles Police Department, is one of many reservists called to active duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Coast Guard demonstrated the importance of a naval force experienced in shallow-water operations, maritime interdiction operations, port security and aids to navigation work. The port security units performed their port security duties efficiently in spite of their units being divided between three separate port facilities and two oil terminals. Patrol boats operated for countless hours without maintenance in waters too shallow for Navy assets and served as the Coalition fleet’s workhorses in boarding, escort and force protection duties. OIF was just one of the many combat operations fought by the Coast Guard since 1790 and its heroes are among the many members of the long blue line.


Painting commissioned of Revenue Cutter McCulloch when it first set sail in 1897. U.S. Coast Guard Academy collection.

The Long Blue Line: McCulloch — fighting cutter of Manila Bay

During the ship’s 20-year career, McCulloch performed the missions of search and rescue, ice operations, law enforcement, environmental protection, humanitarian relief and maritime defense. The ship recorded many firsts, such as the first cutter to steam through the Mediterranean and Red seas, transit the Suez Canal, and visit the Far East by way of the Indian Ocean. In addition, its West Coast cruising territory extended from the Arctic and Alaska to southern California. Cutter McCulloch and the men who sailed it remain a part of the legend and the lore of the long blue line.


In 2009, members of LEDET 409 detained suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden as part of Combined Task Force 151. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: LEDETs – 35 years of law enforcement missions

Since 1982, LEDETs have evolved from a counterdrug unit under local Coast Guard command, to one of the service’s modern Deployable Specialized Forces with a global area of responsibility. Over the course of their history, the LEDETs’ role has expanded to carry out a variety of maritime interdiction missions, including counter-piracy, military combat operations, alien migration interdiction, military force protection, counter terrorism, homeland security, and humanitarian response. The LEDETs and their law enforcement mission form one more link in the long blue line.


Maritime Security and Response Team members deployed in a special rigid-hull inflatable patrol boat. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: MSSTs and MSRTs—forged in the crucible of 9/11

With the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the War on Terror set in motion dramatic changes to the Coast Guard. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, U.S. ports, waterways, and coastlines were protected primarily by Coast Guard boat stations and cutters. Immediately following September 11, Coast Guard resources were reallocated to fill the additional maritime security functions required in a post-9/11 environment. A variety of new units, like the MSSTs and MSRTs, emerged as part of the Coast Guard’s greatest organizational transformation since World War II.


The 82-foot patrol boat Point Cypress in camouflage paint scheme in Vietnam. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard joined the fight in Vietnam over 50 years ago

Today, over 50 years after the service joined the fight in Vietnam, we commemorate the Coast Guardsmen who went in harm’s way, several of whom paid with their lives in a land far from home shores. In all, 8,000 Coast Guardsmen served in Vietnam. Their efforts curtailed maritime smuggling and enemy infiltration, saved hundreds of lives, and proved vital to the war effort in Vietnam.


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