White Pine, 1948

July 30, 2020

White Pine, 1948

WAGL 546; WLM 547; YF-448

A timber tree (Pinus strobus) of eastern North America, having needles in clusters of five and durable, easily worked wood.

Builder:  Erie Concrete & Steel Supply Company, Erie, Pennsylvania

Commissioned: 1944 (USN); 3 August 1948 (USCG)

Decommissioned: 29 June 1999

Disposition: Transferred to the Dominican Republic

Length:  132' 10"

Beam:  30'

Draft:  8' 9" max

Propulsion:  Diesel electric; 2 x 600 bhp Union diesels with twin screws

Complement:  1 warrant, 20 crewmen (1948)

Armament:  None


White Pine was the former Navy lighter, YF-448.  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 supplement the larger seagoing buoy tenders which were unable to service short-range-aids-to-navigation 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."


White Pine began her career as YF-448.  Her keel was laid at the Erie Concrete and Supply Company, Erie, Pennsylvania, on 4 June 1943.  Erie Concrete and Steel Supply Company was organized in 1913; the shipyard division was established in June 1941.  The main plant was engaged in the manufacture of steel structures such as warehouses and bridges.  It also acted as a warehouser and fabricator of steel, and a jobber of mill and plumbing supplies.”  The shipyard was located on the Lake Erie waterfront on land leased from the Pennsylvania Railroad about a mile from the main plant.  The shipyard facility consisted of six buildings: an office building, mold loft building, storage building, acetylene storage house, erection shop building, and a warehouse building.  Their first Navy contract was for “three YF type, 500 ton, self propelled, all welded steel lighters.”  Erie subcontracted with the Union Diesel Company in Oakland, California, for the main and auxiliary engines; with the Sperry Gyroscope Company, Brooklyn, New York, for the steering apparatus; and with the McKinnon-Terry Company, Newark, New Jersey, for the windlass.”

Erie Concrete and Supply Company built YEs 444-448 under Contract No. NXs156.  YFs 444, 445, and 446 would later become sister ships White Sage, White Heath, and White Lupine.  YF-448 was launched on 28 August 1943.  Her trials were held on Lake Erie on 26 April 1944, and she was placed in service on 20 May 1944.  YF-448 was delivered to the supply officer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, on 20 June 1944, and commissioned on 11 July 1944, with a single mast and boom hoist.  Assigned to the Fifth Naval District, YF-448 served in the Maintenance Division.

After World War II, the U.S. Coast Guard acquired YF-448 in 1946 and was commissioned into the Coast Guard as White Pine (WAGL 547) on 3 August 1948.  She was the last in her class to receive a commission.  Before commissioning, White Pine was outfitted with a barge pusher on the bow to adapt her for working aids to navigation on the western rivers.

According to her “Ship’'s Characteristics Card” dated August 30, 1965, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter White Pine was 132’-10” in overall length; 132’ in length between perpendiculars; 30’-9 3/4” in extreme beam; 15’-8” in depth of hold; 6’-2” in draft forward fully loaded; and 5’ in draft forward with a light load.  Her one mast was 48’ tall.  The vessel displaced 600 tons and had a maximum speed of 9.2 knots fully loaded.  Her hull, superstructure, decks, bulkheads, and frames were constructed of steel.  Auxiliary boats in 1965 included a fiberglass outboard and three seven-man inflatable lifeboats.  In 1965, she had her original diesel engine built by Union Diesel Engine Company, Oakland, California, with two propellers, 300 horsepower each, and two auxiliary diesel generators. 

White Pine underwent a major renovation at Curtis Bay in Baltimore, Maryland.  These modifications included updated equipment to improve her AtoN capabilities.  Before decommissioning, White Pine’'s length was 133’; beam, 31’; and draft, 8’.  Her displacement tonnage was listed at 606 gross tons and her mast height as 37-112.  She had a lifting capacity of 20,000 pounds, using two hydraulic pumps.  She had twin Caterpillar diesel engines, 375 horsepower each, twin propellers, and Detroit Diesel auxiliary generators.  Cruising capacity was 10 knots.  Her maximum time out to sea was twenty days at 8 knots.  Her compliment of officers and crew was 26.

White Pine was unique in her class for having “spuds,” which are retractable stanchions that enabled her to service aids in areas other tenders would find difficult or hazardous.  Spuds are vertical poles along the ship'’s side that are dropped down to the mud bottom to hold the vessel stationary in waters with strong current or where anchors cannot take hold.  The spuds are retracted when the buoy work is complete.

White Pine began her Coast Guard career in Memphis, Tennessee, where she replaced the Coast Guard cutter Wakerobin.  In addition to servicing aids to navigation, she patrolled the Mississippi River for the Marathon Race in 1960.  In 1961, she assisted with flood relief at Olive Branch, Tennessee.  In late 1961, she was transferred to Curtis Bay, Baltimore, Maryland, where her barge structure was removed to accommodate servicing aids in the Chesapeake Bay.  Her hoist was also replaced with an A-frame arrangement and hydraulic power.  In 1965, White Pine assisted with firefighting on the Columbian M/V Ciudad de Nieva near Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1976, White Pine was sent to Mobile, Alabama, to replace the Coast Guard cutter Blackthorn, which was being transferred to Galveston, Texas.  After first inspection on 23 August 1976, the Chief of Staff noted, “"Welcome to the 8th CG District. The maintenance of the ship and the appearance of the crew is such that the C.O. and the crew can be proud. Your arrival here has set the standard for other ships to strive for.  I wish the White Pine much success in the A/N efforts in which she will be engaged.”"

White Pine’'s area of operation was primarily the Gulf Coast between Gulfport, Mississippi, and St. Marks, Florida, where she serviced 200 lighted and unlighted buoys.  She also participated in search and rescue, salvage work, survey work, and marine law enforcement.  In December 1984, White Pine rescued four persons from a sunken private craft in the Gulf of Mexico. 

White Pine was decommissioned on June 29, 1999, and sold to the Dominican Republic.


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.]