“Queen of the Fleet” decommissions

CGC Acushnet

JUNEAU, Alaska – Acushnet arrives in Juneau Friday, Feb. 19, 2010 for a port visit before returning to their homeport of Ketchikan. The crew conducted 43 boardings of commercial vessels and assisted fishermen on the vessel Butterfly as it was taking on water south of Kodiak. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Walter Shinn.

The “Queen of the Fleet” is a long, proud tradition honoring the Coast Guard’s oldest ship. Four years ago, this title was given to Coast Guard Cutter Acushnet and after a long and adventurous 67 years of service, the time had come for the 213-foot cutter to be decommissioned.

CGC Acushnet

KETCHIKAN, Alaska – The 67-year-old Cutter Acushnet, the Coast Guard’s “Queen of the Fleet”, is dress ship for the cutter’s decommissioning ceremony at Base Support Unit Ketchikan Friday, March 11, 2011. The gold hull numbering distinguishes it as the oldest commissioned vessel in the Coast Guard. Coast Guard photo by PA2 Walter Shinn.

Entering service in February 1944 as the U.S. Navy rescue and salvage ship USS Shackle, Acushnet was transferred to the Coast Guard in 1946. The cutter became a standard fixture along America’s coastline providing aid to mariners along the East, West and Gulf coasts. For the past 13 years Acushnet has been homeported in Ketchikan, Alaska, where it conducted fisheries law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental protection and homeland security in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.

“It has been an honor to serve as the last commanding officer aboard the Acushnet, a ship with an exceptionally long history of service to the United States that began in World War II and extended up to the present day,” said Capt. Mark Frankford. “Indeed, this cutter’s proud history served as a continuing source of inspiration to the crew and me as we worked to execute our missions to the highest standard to be worthy successors of the hundreds of Coast Guardsmen and Navy Sailors who walked Acushnet’s decks before us.”

Upon Acushnet’s decommissioning, the respected “Queen of the Fleet” title was passed to the 100-foot inland construction tender Coast Guard Cutter Smilax, which was commissioned in November 1944.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the Smilax, Acushnet, Storis or Fir, the truth of the matter is it’s the crews that breathes life into the ships,” said Chief Warrant Officer Scott McAloon, Smilax commanding officer. “It all comes back to good people doing the right thing to keep the ships in good condition.”

Stay tuned in April for more as Smilax, homeported in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, continues the time-honored tradition and receives its distinctive gold hull numbering.

CGC Acushnet crew

KETCHIKAN, Alaska – Crewmembers from the CGC Acushnet stand in formation during the cutter’s decommissioning ceremony Friday, March 11, 2011. Coast Guard photo by PA2 Walter Shinn.

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