This Day in U.S. Coast Guard History – December 7

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

1793-The first Revenue Cutter Service court martial occurred on this date aboard the cutter Massachusetts.  The offender, Third Mate Sylvanus Coleman of Nantucket, was summarily dismissed from the service for "speaking disrespectfully of his superior officers in public company. . . .insulting Captain John Foster Williams [the commanding officer] on board, and before company. . . .for keeping bad women on board the cutter in Boston and setting a bad example to the men by ordering them to bring the women on board at night and carrying them ashore in the morning. . . ." and for writing an order in the name of the commanding officer.

1830-President Andrew Jackson announced an ambitious plan to add a large number of lighthouses to the federal system, with a total of 51 more lighthouse keepers.  In explanation, he supported the practice of offsetting the costs of keeping aids to navigation on the coasts, lakes and harbors "to render the navigation thereof safe and easy" since "whatever gives facility and security to navigation cheapens imports; and all who consume them are alike interested in whatever produces this effect.  The consumer in the most inland State derives the same advantage . . . that he does who lives in a maritime State."

1941-The Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise aerial attack on Pearl Harbor and surrounding Army Air Force airfields in Hawaii.   Stationed in Honolulu were the 327-foot cutter Taney, the 190-foot buoy tender Kukui, two 125-foot patrol craft, Reliance and Tiger, two 78-foot patrol boats and several smaller craft.  At the time of the attack, Taney lay at pier six in Honolulu Harbor, Reliance and the unarmed Kukui both lay at pier four and Tiger was on patrol along the western shore of Oahu. All were performing the normal duties for a peacetime Sunday.  Tiger conducted anti-submarine sweeps outside of Pearl Harbor and Taney opened fire on Japanese aircraft that appeared over Honolulu Harbor during the attack.

1968- The cutter White Alder sank after colliding with the M/V Helena near White Castle, Louisiana.  Seventeen Coast Guard personnel were killed.

1988- The Coast Guard hosted an international summit between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, President Ronald Reagan, and President-elect and then-Vice President George H. W. Bush on Governors Island on 7 December 1988 after Gorbachev had addressed the United Nations.  In planning his trip to the UN, Gorbachev requested a meeting with Reagan.  Reagan was in final weeks of his presidential term and his advisors felt it important that the visit remain low profile, so a large-scale summit or state visit to the White House was not in the cards.  Yet, a short and informal meeting between the heads of state and newly elected President George Bush was possible.  The White House selected the Coast Guard base at Governors Island as a meeting site since it was a secure military installation in the middle of New York harbor and just minutes away from the United Nations.  The leaders met for lunch at the LANTAREA commander's [VADM James Irwin] home.  The summit was characterized as "just a luncheon" and the meeting was the last time President Reagan and Gorbachev would meet during Reagan's remaining term.

(Source: USCG Historian’s Office)

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