Androscoggin, 1946 (WPG/WHEC-68)
Call Sign: NRUR
The Androscoggin was named for Lake Androscoggin, Maine.
Builder: Western Pipe & Steel Co., San Pedro, CA
Commissioned: 26 September 1946
Decommissioned: 27 February 1973; sold 7 October 1974 for scrap
Length: 254’oa; 245’bp
Navigation Draft: 17’3” max (1966)
Beam: 43’1” max
Displacement: 1,978 fl (1966); 1,342 light (1966)
Main Engines: 1 Westinghouse electric motor driven by a turbine. SHP: 4,000 total (1945)
Performance, Maximum Sustained: 17.0 kts, 6,157-mi radius (1966)
Performance, Economic:10.0 kts., 10,376-mi radius (1966)
Fuel Capacity: 141,755 gal (Oil, 95%)
Complement: 10 officers, 3 warrants, 130 men (1966)
Electronics: Detection Radar: SPS-23, SPS-29, Mk 26, Mk 27 (1966)
Sonar: SQS-1 (1966)
Armament: 1 x 5”/38 Mk 12m Mod 6; 1 x Mk 52 Mod 3 director; 1 x 26-4 fire control radar; 1 x Mk 10 Mod 1 A/S projector; 2 x Mk 32 ASW TT
"The bow and the stern for each other yearn, and the lack of interval shows…”
Myths have long shadowed the design history of the 255-foot class. These cutters were to have been much larger ships, and two theories persist as to why they were shortened. The first is that these cutters were built to replace the ships given to Great Britain under lend lease, and Congress stipulated that the Coast Guard had to build these replacement cutters to the same size and character as those provided to the British. The second is that their length was determined by the maximum length that could pass through the locks of the Welland Canal from the Great Lakes to the St. Lawrence River. The Great Lakes shipbuilding industry brought pressure on Congress to ensure that it had the potential to bid on the contract. The first theory seems to be correct, but the second cannot be ruled out.
The Coast Guard had prepared a design for a 316-foot cutter that was to have been an austere 327. This design was cut down into the 255-foot ship. To accomplish this, everything was squeezed down and automated to a degree not before achieved in a turbo-electric-driven ship.
The machinery design of the 255s was compact and innovative, but overly complex. It had pilothouse control, variable-rate (10 to 1) burners, and automatic synchronizing between the turbo-generator and the motor. Westinghouse engineers developed a system of synchronization and a variable-frequency drive for main-propulsion auxiliary equipment, which kept the pumps and other items at about two-thirds the power required for constant-frequency operation. The combined boiler room/engine room was a break with tradition.
The turbo-alternators for ship-service power exhausted at 20 psi gauge pressure instead of into a condenser. This steam was used all over the ship before finally going to a condenser. Space, heating, galley, cooking, laundry, freshwater evaporation, fuel, and feed-water heating were all taken from the 20 psi backpressure line.
The 255-foot class was an ice-going design. Ice operations had been assigned to the Coast Guard early in the war, and almost all new construction was either ice-going or ice-breaking. The hull was designed with constant flare at the waterline for ice-going. The structure was longitudinally framed with heavy web frames and an ice belt of heavy plating, and it had extra transverse framing above and below the design waterline. Enormous amounts of weight were removed through the use of electric welding. The 250-foot cutters’ weights were used for estimating purposes. Tapered bulkhead stiffeners cut from 12” I-beams went from the main deck (4’ depth of web) to the bottom (8” depth of web). As weight was cut out of the hull structure, electronics and ordnance were increased, but at much greater heights. This top weight required ballasting the fuel tanks with seawater to maintain stability both for wind and damaged conditions.
The superstructure of the 255s was originally divided into two islands in order to accommodate an aircraft amidships, but this requirement was dropped before any of the units became operational. Construction of this class received a low priority, and none of the cutters served in the war. Following completion of the preliminary design by the Coast Guard, the work was assigned to George G, Sharp of New York to prepare the contract design.
The number of units – 13 of them – had an interesting origin. Three were to have been replacements for over-aged cutters, the Ossipee, Tallapoosa, and Unalga; ten units were to be replacements for the 250-foot class transferred to Great Britain under lend-lease. For economy, all 13 units were built to the same design.
CGC Androscoggin was built by the Western Pipe & Steel Company of San Pedro, California. She was commissioned on 26 September 1946. She was stationed at Boston, MA, in 1947 and 1948. She was used primarily on ocean station duty in the North Atlantic. From 1948 to 3 July 1949, she was stationed at New York. She was decommissioned and stored at the Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, Maryland, from 31 October 1949 to 8 May 1950. On 8 May 1950, she received the crew from cutter Mocoma, was recommissioned, and stationed at Miami Beach, FL, until 27 February 1973.
She was used primarily for law enforcement and search and rescue operations, but also served several ocean station tours. On 29 and 30 May 1952, she towed a disabled Navy PBM aircraft from 60 miles southeast of Miami to Miami, Florida. In 1956, she served on Campeche Patrol. In April and May 1956, she was assigned special duty relating to LORAN and visited Ecuador, Jamaica, Colombia, and Panama. In July 1956, she served on the annual reserve cruise to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. From 17 April to 4 July 1959, she shared International Ice Patrol duty with the Acushnet. She sailed to Reykjavik, Iceland, in January 1960 on a special mission. In November 1961, she took part in a special mission involving the USAF and Air National Guard relating to the Berlin crisis.
She received the Navy Expeditionary Medal for participating in the “Cuban operation,” more commonly known as the Cuban blockade, in 1962. Also in 1962, Androscoggin served as Coast Guard school ship at the Navy’s Fleet Sonar School, Key West. In late August 1965, she evacuated Cuban refugees from Cay Sal to Key West. On 10 January 1966, she rescued the crew from the sinking M/V Lampsis and unsuccessfully attempted to save the vessel. On 3 February 1966, she stood by the distressed M/V Aroin until commercial tug arrived. On 19 February 1966, she rescued three Cuban refugees from Anguila Cay and transported them to Miami. On 25 May 1966, she embarked 12 Cuban refugees from Cay Lobos and transported them to Key West.
When returning from an Echo patrol, she was dispatched to Nassau to take part in the filming of the movie "Assault on a Queen," starring Frank Sinatra. In the final segments of the film, Androscoggin, through the miracle of special effects, saves the day by ramming and sinking a renegade submarine, thereby thwarting Sinatra's dastardly plan to rob HMS Queen Mary on the high seas.** Androscoggin was assigned to Coast Guard Squadron Three, Vietnam, from 4 December 1967 to 4 August 1968. On 1 March 1968, she assisted in the destruction of an enemy steel trawler in a gun battle at the mouth of the Song Cau River. In May 1968, she rescued 27 Vietnamese from the South China Sea. In 1969, she assisted the Dutch M/V Alida Gothern. On 19 February 1970, she stood by the disabled M/V Stellanova until commercial tug arrived. On 29 April 1970, she provided medical assistance to USS Dahlgren off Bermuda. She was decommissioned on 27 February 1973.
**Our thanks to former-Androscoggin crewman John Burmester for pointing this out.
Robert L. Scheina, U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1981), pp. 1-3.
Robert L. Scheina, U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946-1990 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1990), pp. 18-26.
255' Cutter Sailors' Page, hosted by 255' cutter historian Doak Walker, RMC, USCG (Ret.): 255wpg.11.net.com/
(We gratefully acknowledge the work by RMC Doak Walker in preserving the history of the Coast Guard's 255-foot cutter fleet).)
Cutter File, Coast Guard Historian's Office. Ship's Characteristics Card.