This Day in Coast Guard History – Dec. 15

Monday, December 14, 2009

1835-The superintendent of the lighthouse system wrote to Winslow Lewis, "I perceive by a Mobile paper which I received this morning that the Mobile Point light has been fitted by you as a revolving light" similar to the nearby Pensacola lighthouse.  "I am very sorry that you have don so." Lewis was a contractor who -- almost by himself -- virtually controlled the administration of the lighthouse system.  The incident helped cause a Congressional investigation that ultimately created a modern lighthouse system in this country.

1839-Near Gloucester, Massachusetts, a storm from the southeast caught and dragged ashore or drove to sea over fifty vessels.  An eyewitness wrote: "From one of the beach to the other, nothing could be seen but pieces of broken wrecks; planks and spars...ropes and sails...flour, fish, lumber...soaked and broken..."  The local fishermen manned two boats, the Custom House boat and the newly launched Revenue Cutter Van Buren and "fearlessly risked their lives for the safety of their fellow creatures" and brought many safely to shore.

1943-Coast Guardsmen participated in the landings made on Arawe Peninsula, New Britain.

1944-Coast Guardsmen participated in the landings made on Mindoro, Philippine Islands.

1976: The Liberian-flagged 644-foot tanker Argo Merchant, with 7.5 million gallons of oil on board, grounded on a shoal 28 miles southeast of Nantucket.  Coast Guard helicopters from AIRSTA Cape Cod rescued her 38-man crew.  The cutters Sherman and Vigilant responded, along with other vessels, but heavy weather prevented the containment of the spill.  The tanker broke in two on 21 December.

(Source: USCG Historian’s Office)

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