What a mess…

After nearly 45 years of service to the nation, Coast Guard Cutter Dallas is being decommissioned. From performing naval gunfire support missions off Vietnam to being the command ship during the 1980 Mariel Boatlift, Dallas has truly seen it all. As Dallas is decommissioned, a new fleet of national security cutters are coming on the line to protect and serve our nation. They stand at the ready to perform homeland security missions at sea, just as Dallas did for decades. This is the first post in a series honoring Dallas as it pulls into homeport for the last time.

The chief's logbook aboard Coast Guard Cutter Dallas. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

The chief’s logbook aboard Coast Guard Cutter Dallas. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

The chief’s mess. A place of pride, tradition and reverence. Those who have not entered the ranks of the senior enlisted know very little of the happenings that take place behind that door with the anchor. One of the many traditions of any good chief’s mess is to maintain a chief petty officer’s logbook. The words in the logbook are typically for the chiefs’ eyes only, but with Coast Guard Cutter Dallas making its final patrol before being decommissioned, the mess has agreed to open the vault for the Compass readership.

Below are excerpts from the logbook dating back as far as 1967, the year Dallas was commissioned. They provide a unique view of not only the ship’s mechanical condition and daily operations, but also life as a sailor aboard Dallas through the eyes of the chiefs.

There are dozens of welcome aboard and farewell entries, paragraphs about drug busts and search and rescue cases and notes expressing concern for shipmates having personal troubles. But as you will see, not all the posts are of a serious nature. After all, we are talking about chiefs here.

Read on for log entries from the first 20 years of the cutter’s history and check back with us next week as we share entries from the final years aboard Dallas.

Oct. 26, 1967

Greetings! To all whose eyes may fall upon these pages, we, the original Chief Petty Officers of Dallas, welcome you. Today at 1000 at the Naval Support Activity in New Orleans, La., we commissioned her and set sail for Baltimore, Md., by way of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Excitement runs high as we leave the dock and there’s a feeling of wonder throughout. What does the future hold? What ports will see Dallas? How many miles will pass under our keel before each of us is replaced? These answers, perhaps, will be found somewhere in this log. I think that I might add, without fear of contradiction, that we are all proud to be an original crewmember of Dallas!!

E.W. Brown, HMCPAV

July 4, 1968

This day started out with tragedy for Dallas! At approx. 0030 our commanding officer, Capt. Jay P. Dayton, was struck down with a heart attack and fell to his death. Captain Dayton had a long and distinguished career, having served 27 years active service in the U.S. Coast Guard. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, a daughter and a son. Farewell to a Shipmate!! Alas, life must go on and duty calls. Underway on 8 July 68 at 1800 for Ocean Station Delta.

E.W. Brown, HMCPAV

July 13, 1968

Another first for the “Mighty D.” We relieved the CGC Hamilton W-715, thus becoming the 378’ to relieve a 378’.

A photograph of the log entry about Coast Guard Cutter Dallas relieving Gallatin, the first time one 378 relieved another. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

A photograph of the log entry about Coast Guard Cutter Dallas relieving Hamilton, the first time one 378 relieved another. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Sept, 30, 1976

Today will not be another first, but a last. After today our tradition of wearing the khaki uniform by the C.P.O.’s will not be authorized. Might mention that myself and Chief Newton are two diehards, due to the fact that we are wearing our khaki uniforms for the last time as a Coast Guard uniform. Very regretful for all future C.P.O.’s.

MKC E.M. Jones

March 21, 1977

Terminated ASWEX early due to SAR off Cape Hatteras. Aboard the M/T Claude Conway, seems someone decided to do hot work and the resulting explosion tore her in half and killed eleven people. Tis rather eerie to see a 712-foot vessel split in half and know you go to sea for a living.

YNC Keethy

March 25, 1977

Used the bow section of M/T Claude Conway for target practice most of the day and are almost out of 5” ammo. Hope we don’t go to war…

YNC Keethy

Sept. 17, 1977 (America’s Cup)

Another day of watching grass grow. Americans won again by a HUGE time factor. Wonder if Australians know how to sail at all.

YNC Keethy

Feb. 7, 1978

CGC Dallas (WHEC-716/ BLDG. -716), under cover of darkness and a snowstorm, was wretched free of a 3 month accumulation of coffee grounds and moved by tugs to the Bethlehem Steel Shipyards, Hoboken, N.J. It appears our “ship handlers” saw fit to pass the anchor chain around the bow a couple times. We’ll continue to add to this saga as it develops…

STC Hoye

Nov. 13, 1978

Played softball against the crew. Very tight game. Chiefs lost by a score of 20-3 in the 3rd inning. Crew and officers can beat us in softball, but the chiefs have been kicking butt in bowling!

BMC Carbino

Originally commissioned in 1967 at Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans, La., Coast Guard Dallas is the sixth cutter to bear the name of Alexander J. Dallas, the Secretary of the Treasury under President James Madison. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Originally commissioned in 1967 at Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans, La., Coast Guard Dallas is the sixth cutter to bear the name of Alexander J. Dallas, the Secretary of the Treasury under President James Madison. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Nov. 17, 1978

DCC is gear adrift.

Unsigned

April 17, 1979

VOLCANO ERUPTED at 1710! Ashes got on the ship, scared to death. We are off St. Vincent Island for an evacuation SAR case.

Illegible

June 3, 1979

At 1400 Dallas seized a 70’ shrimp boat loaded with pot. The word is this is the first bust Dallas has ever made. Our prize crew is aboard to sail it to Base San Juan, P.R. The name board (Foxy Lady) was hung over our stern with a chain. Will try to get a picture for this log.

ETC Carmona

March 29, 1980

1800 u/w en route Gitmo (maybe) via Norfolk and St. Croix, V.I. Rumor has it Gitmo might be cancelled due to the Energy Crisis. No fuel. Gas on the outside is $1.29 a gallon some places!

STC

April 25, 1980

We receive orders to proceed to the Fla. Straits to provide rescue and assistance as required to more than 10,000 refugees leaving the utopia that is the People’s Republic of Cuba.

BMC

April 29, 1980

Well, we’ve been here three days and it’s turning out to be a rather big affair. Dallas is On Scene Command. In company are Cutters Dauntless, Diligence, Dependable, Venturous, Ingham, 7 95’/82’s and a whole bunch of UTB’s out of Key West and Marathon.

June 7, 1980

Summary of “Cuban Exodus” 25 April to 6 June

1. After being diverted from Gitmo on liberty weekend to assist in the Cuban Mass Migration into the United States, the following statistics were compiled.

A. Total refugees entering the U.S. – over 110,000

B. Dallas stats

Ensign Jane Hamilton aboard Dallas during the Mariel Boatlift. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Ensign Jane Hamilton aboard Dallas during the Mariel Boatlift. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

1. refugees carried 443

2. tows 34 (total SARs 71)

3. medical assists 59

4. admirals aboard 6 COMDT, Vice COMDT, CCGD7, LANTAREA, CCGD7 Operations, COMPHIBGRU 2

5. reporters aboard 3 ABC, CBS TV with crew, Time Magazine

6. Helos landed 106

7. vertreps 8 (Air Stations worked: Brooklyn, Cape Cod, Cape May, Miami, Borinquin, Clearwater, Corpus Christi, Elizabeth City, Houston and Savannah)

8. Most tows at one time 6

9. Liberty drills 7 liberty calls 5

10. OSC Dallas, ships in company: Acushnet, Chilula, Cherokee, Courageous, Dauntless, Diligence, Dependable, Ingham, Vigorous, Venturous, Valiant, plus 6 95’s, 10 82’s, 10 Navy vessels and numerous small boats.

11. Medals won Humanitarian Service

NOTE! With over 110,000 people arriving in Key West, only 38 confirmed sinkings and 25 confirmed deaths

STC

July 7, 1980

All hands aboard during Cuban Exodus 25 April to 6 June are awarded CG Commendation.

STC

July 24, 1980

Visited by COMDT, DOT and CCGD7 again. Told us what a good job we were doing. He should have been here when we almost boarded a suspicious vessel at 3 a.m. It had a white hull with a red and blue racing stripe…

Unsigned

May 27 1985

Memorial Day – at 1530 Dallas goes DIW and we bury the dead. A retired chief MK gets his ashes buried at sea and the crew musters on the flight deck.

DCC

Aug. 24, 1985

Moored CG yard Baltimore, Md., for teletype installation.

DCC S.

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