White Bush, 1947

July 15, 2020

White Bush, 1947

WAGL / WLM 542; YF-339

A low shrub with many branches.

Builder:  Basalt Rock Company, Napa Company

Commissioned: 1944 (USN); 1 November 1947

Decommissioned: 16 September 1985

Length:  132' 10"

Beam:  30'

Draft:  8' 9" max

Displacement: 600 tons

Propulsion:  Diesel electric; 2 x direct-reversible 06 Union diesels; 600 BHP; twin propellers; 3 rudders (as launched); 2 x Caterpillar D-353-E diesel engines (1974)


     Max: 10.5 knots (1948)
     Economic: 7.5 knots; 2,830 mile range (1948)

Deck Gear: MARCO (Marine Construction & Design) hydraulic boom with a 15-ton topping lift, 10-ton main purchase and 4-ton relief purchase.  Hydraulic powered winch.

Complement:  1 warrant, 20 crewmen (1948)

Armament:  None

Electronics: A/N SPS-52 radar; 


White Bush was the former Navy lighter, YF-339.  The Coast Guard acquired a total of eight of these former Navy YF-257-class lighters between 1947-1948 for conversion to coastal buoy tenders.  They were needed to complement the larger seagoing buoy tenders in servicing short-range-aids-to-navigation, typically those placed in coastal waters and harbors.  

They were built entirely of steel and were originally designed to carry ammunition and cargo from shore to deep-draft vessels anchored off-shore.  These lighters were well suited for a variety of coastal tasks because their hull design incorporated a shallow draft with a solid engineering plant.  All of these 133-foot lighters had sufficient cargo space for storing equipment and an open deck and boom for handling large objects.  They proved to be capable and useful buoy tenders.  Each was named for a plant, shrub or tree, prefixed by "White."


YF-339 was built by the Basalt Rock Company, in Napa, California along with 10 other vessels of the same class.  She was commissioned in 1944 and was used by the Navy as an ammunition carrier, mine layer and general freighter until 1947 when she was decommissioned and transferred to the Coast Guard on 11 August 1947.  On 1 November 1947 she was formally commissioned as a Coast Guard cutter and was christened White Bush and given the hull designation WAGL-542.  She was then sent to the Coast Guard Yard for to be fitted out as a buoy tender.   Her deck arrangement was converted to include a large derrick to handle buoys and her upper deck was extended.

She was assigned to the 13th Coast Guard District and was home-ported in Astoria, Oregon where she was assigned to service aids to navigation and conduct law enforcement and search and rescue patrols when necessary.  Her primary area of responsibility included Grays Harbor, Washington to Coos Bay, Oregon and she serviced aids to navigation on the Columbia River as well.  Her assignment included servicing 76 lighted buoys, 26 unlighted buoys, 60 lights, and 29 daybeacons.  

On 4 August 1951 she assisted following a collision between the M/Vs Adventure and Tullahoma near Astoria.  On 20 December 1951 she helped fight a fire on the M/V Erria off Tongue Point.  On 26 December 1951 she assisted the F/V Susan.  On 7 May 1952 she repaired a cable to Tillamook Rock.  On 23 September 1954 she repaired a cable to Destruction Island.  From 8 to 9 June 1961 she assisted with flood relief in the Vancouver-Longview area.  While starting out to sea across the Columbia River Bar on 4 December 1963 she encountered three consecutive swells approximately twenty feet high and nearly cresting.  The White Bush stopped her main engines but the "seas rocked and worked her heavily," causing some structural damage.  She returned to her berth to await repairs.   In August 1965 she fought a fire on the dredge MacLeod at Vancouver.

In 1972 she had pollution abatement equipment installed at the Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company in Seattle, Washington.  In 1974 she underwent a modernization where her original diesel engines were replaced with new Caterpillar D-353-E diesel engines which had a full load RMP of 1225, driving the shafts at 400 RPM through twin disc reduction gears.  She also had new General Motors 4-71 diesel generators installed and her galley, messing, berthing and living spaces were renovated.   On 1 October 1975 she helped fight a dock fire in the Astoria waterfront area.

In 1977 the final phase of her updating and modernization was completed with the removal of her old pilothouse and the installation of a "new, modern, spacious," pilothouse.  In May of 1977, she was assigned to fisheries enforcement duty off the coast of Oregon that consisted of enforcing government regulations concerning catch limits, gear restrictions and other orders pertaining to the annual salmon catch for both commercial and sport fishermen.

She was decommissioned on 16 September 1985.


Cutter History File.  USCG Historian's Office, USCG HQ, Washington, D.C.

Robert Scheina.  U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946-1990.  Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990.

U. S. Department of the Interior.  National Park Service. U.S. Coast Guard 133-Foot Buoy Tenders.  HAER booklet.  Washington, DC: National Park Service, February, 2004.  [HAER no. DC-57; Todd Croteau, HAER Industrial Archeologist (project leader); Jet Low, HAER Photographer; Mark Porter, NCSHPO Consultant (historian), and Candace Clifford, booklet design.]