"Tahoma" is a Salishan Native American word meaning "snow peak". Tahoma is also the name of a glacier on the southwestern slope of Mount Rainier in the state of Washington.
Builder: Dafoe Works, Bay City, MI
Draft: 12' 3" mean
Displacement: 1,005 tons
Launched: 5 September 1934
Commissioned: 22 October 1934
Decommissioned: 1 July 1953
Disposition: Sold, 17 October 1955
Main Engines: 1 x DeLaval double-reduction geared turbine; 1,500 shp
Main Boilers: 2 x Babcock & Wilcox; 310 psi, 200°F superheat
Propellers: 1 x four-bladed
Maximum Speed: 12.8 knots; 1,350 mile range
Economic: 9.4 knots; 5,079 mile range
Fuel Oil: 41,500 gallons
Complement: 6 officers, 56 men (1934)
1934: 2 x 3"/50; 2 x 6-pounders
1942: 2 x 3"/50; 2 x 20mm/80 (single mount); 2 x depth charge tracks; 4 x "Y" guns; 2 mousetraps.
Sonar: QCJ-3 (1945)
The 165-foot "A" class cutters were based on the 1915 Tallapoosa/Ossipee design. They were designed for light ice-breaking as well, and were constructed with a reinforced belt at the waterline and a cutaway forefoot. They could break up to two feet of ice. They were also the first cutters with geared turbine drives. They were constructed utilizing Public Works Administration construction allotments, a program established to aid the country after the onset of the Great Depression.
Other cutters in the 165-foot (A) class cutters were: Algonquin (WPG-75); Comanche (WPG-76); Escanaba (WPG-77); Mohawk (WPG-78); and Onondaga (WPG-79).
Click here to access an article written in 1935 that describes, in great detail, a 165-foot "A" Class cutter and her crew. The author, D. E. ("Gim") Hobelman, was given free access to the Escanaba and he describes her from stem to stern. His comments are equally applicable to the other cutters in Escanaba's class.
The second cutter named Tahoma was built at Bay City, Michigan, by the Defoe Shipbuilding Company. Completed in 1934, the steel-hulled cutter operated on the Great Lakes between 1934 and 1941, attached to the 9th Coast Guard District. She was homeported at Cleveland, Ohio. Soon after entering commissioned service, she was called out from the Cleveland station to rescue the SS Badger State, a 1,118-ton motor-ship valued at $300,000. She had lost her propeller in Lake Erie during a storm, and was towed safely into Buffalo, New York.
As the United States moved closer to full participation in World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order on 1 November 1941 transferring the Coast Guard from the Treasury Department to the Navy. Accordingly, Tahoma was reclassified as a gunboat, designated WPG-80, and assigned to escort of convoy duties with the Atlantic Fleet, primarily escorting vessels between Allied bases in Greenland, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the northeast coast of the U.S.
On 31 July 1942, the Tahoma left Casco Bay, escorting four trawlers for Sydney, Nova Scotia, arriving 4 August. On 5 August 1942, she got underway escorting the seven vessel convoy SG-4 from Sydney to Greenland with four other escorts. The convoy arrived at Bluie West One on 30 August and at Ivigtut on the 13th. On 5 September 1942 the Tahoma stood out of Skov Fjord entrance awaiting a convoy from Bluie West One to Sydney. The convoy arrived at Sydney on 12 September. On 14 September the Tahoma, as part of Task Unit 24.8.2 was at Sydney, as Commander D. C. McNeil, USCG, took over command of the Task Unit. On the 17th she departed escorting a five vessel convoy SG-8 with the USS Rapidan. On the 19th she lost contact with the convoy and was out of contact on the 20th. She rejoined on the 21st with the cutters Mojave and Comanche, joining off Arsuk Fjord, later departing with two vessels for a position off the coast at 66° 00' N x 49° 48' W. On 29 September 1942 she began escorting a convoy to Sydney, arriving on 3 October 1942. On 8 October she began escorting convoy SG-10, consisting of nine vessels, to Greenland.
On 15 October, what remained of convoy SG-10 from Sidney, after being badly split due to faulty instructions, was taken by the Tahoma into Kungnat Bay from Arsuk Fjord entrance. On the 16th she stood out of Knungnat Bay, escorting two vessels to join others, forming a three vessel convoy to Hudson Straits, arriving on the 19th. On 31 October the Tahoma and four other escorts began escorting convoy GS-12 for St. John's and Argentia, arriving 7 November 1942. On 14 November she departed for St. John's and on the 17th was en route to Kungnat Bay, escorting SG-13, arriving on the 23rd. She departed for Argentia on 25 November, escorting convoy GS-14, arriving on the 30th. On 8 December 1942 she left Argentia, escorting a vessel to St. John's and on the 12th departed, escorting the five vessel convoy SG-15 with three other escorts for Greenland, arriving Kungnat Bay on 19 December. On 21 December she began escorting the five vessel convoy GS-16 for St. John' s, arriving 26 December and at Argentia on the 27th for repairs.
On 1 March 1943, the Tahoma reported for duty with Task Unit 24.8.2 and on the 5th while at gun practice with the cutters Storis, Modoc and Algonquin, in the bay, she received a report of a submarine in the area from a patrol plane, which commenced directing the unit to the position. The unit searched the area for the remainder of the day with negative results, continuing until daylight of the 6th, when it stood for St. John's. On the 8th the unit, plus three escorts, departed St. John's as escorts for the four vessel convoy SG-21. On the 14th the Modoc and Tahoma escorted two of the ships to Kungnat Bay, while the reminder continued to Narsarssuak.
On March 18, 1943, the Tahoma and four other escorts departed Greenland with the two ship convoy SG-21, the Storis and Modoc splitting off on the 39th to go to the assistance of the SS Svend Foyne, which had collided with an ice berg. Later the Storis returned to the convoy as the cutters Algonquin, Aivik, and Frederick Lee departed for the disabled vessel. The Tahoma continued to Argentia. On 20 April 1943 she began escorting convoy XSG-23 to Greenland, entering the ice field on the 21st to break ice for the convoy. Ordered to escort the SS Eagle to Greenland, the Tahoma received air coverage but lost contact with the Eagle due to low visibility, regaining it on the 24th. On the 28th proceeding through increasing heavy ice, she hove to until daylight and moored at Narsarssuak on 29 April.
On 20 May 1943, the Tahoma was underway with the cutter Northland and four other escorts en route St. John's as escort to convoy GS-23, arriving there on the 26th and continuing on to Boston, via Argentia, where she arrived on 2 June 1943. She departed Boston on the 10th, escorting the USS Pontiac with the Modoc and USS SC-704, arriving Argentia on the 14th. Arriving St. John's on the 22nd, she departed same day escorting convoy SG-26 to Gronne Dal where she arrived on 29 June. On 1 July 1943 she departed Gronne Dal with four other escorts of convoy GS-25, arriving St. John's on the 5th and Argentia on the 6th. Leaving Argentia on the 9th, with four other escorts, she arrived St. John's on the 10th and departed on the 15th for Gronne Dal with six other escorts and convoy SG-28, standing into Kungnat Bay on the 20th to assist the USAT Fairfax, which was aground. The Fairfax was floated by the Mohawk and Tahoma. On the 22nd, the Tahoma, with six escorts began escorting convoy GS-26 for Hudson Straits and Argentia, three escorts and two vessels departing for Hudson Straits on the 24th and one vessel proceeding to Botwood independently on the 27th. The rest of the convoy arrived at Argentia on 31 July 1943.
On 1 August 1943, the Tahoma with the Mohawk was en route to Sydney, Nova Scotia, and St. John's, arriving on the 5th. On the 12th she departed St. John's escorting convoy SG-29 with seven other escorts. On the 18th six ships departed for Hudson Straits and the Tahoma with three other escorts and the rest of the convoy moored in Kungnat Bay on the 21st. On the 24th she departed, escorting convoy GS-27 with three other escorts for St. John's, where she moored on the 30th. On 9 September 1943, she began escorting the 15 vessel convoy SG-30 with four other escorts to Greenland. On the 11th the Algonquin dropped a full pattern of 11 charges on a contact. The convoy split into two groups on the 13th, the Tahoma and two escorts taking the Greenland section to Gronne Dal on the14th. On 16 September the Tahoma departed with the Modoc, escorting a two vessel convoy to St. John's, proceeding with the Modoc to Argentia on the 27th. She then underwent a refit.
On 19 November 1943, the Tahoma left Gronne Dal escorting the three vessel convoy GS-36 with two other escorts to St. John's, arriving on 24 November 1943. On the 26th the seven vessel convoy YD #1 departed St. John's for Boston. Two vessels detached and proceeded independently for Halifax on the 30th and the balance reached Boston on 1 December 1943. On 10 December the one vessel convoy CG-36 with the Tahoma and two other escorts, left Boston, the SS Nevada and SS Mui Hock (Norwegian) to join on base course. On arrival at St. John's, learned that the two vessels had apparently left and were proceeding to destination unescorted. The convoy entered Narsak Reach, Greenland, on 15 December 1943. The Storis departed to search for the missing Nevada. On 25 December the Tahoma departed Gronne Dal for St. John's with three other escorts, escorting convoy GS-39.
The Tahoma arrived at St. John's on 1 January 1944, and on the 3rd departed for Boston with convoy YD #2, arriving on the 8th. There she remained until 7 February 1944, when she departed for Casco Bay, Maine. She departed on the 16th with Algonquin en route to Argentia where she moored on the 19th, remaining through 2 March. On that date she rendezvoused with convoy GS-42 en route to Boston, relieving the Mohawk, encountering a force 10 to 11 NW gale en route and reducing speed, she arrived at Boston without the convoy on 7 March 1944, for availability until the 25th. On that day she departed with three other escorts for Argentia, arriving on the 29th. On the 30th she began escorting convoy SG-40 to Greenland with six other escorts, mooring at Bluie West Seven on 7 April 1944. On the 12th she anchored at Bluie West One, returning to Bluie Seven on the 13th. She proceeded to Navy 26 on the 28th and to Gronne Dal on 30 April 1944.
For the rest of World War II the Tahoma was on ice and weather patrol. She alternated with the Algonquin, Mohawk, and Frederick Lee in patrolling Weather Station "Charlie," reporting on ice and weather conditions and acting as plane guard on this station midway between Greenland and Iceland. Due to a major casualty to her main engine on 3 October 1944 she returned to Gronne Dal. On 6 November 6, 1944, she escorted convoy GS-56, which consisted of the Northland, towed by the USS Curb and additionally escorted by the Storis as far as Argentia and proceeded to Boston independently, on 14 November, for 30 days availability. After several weeks at Casco Bay she returned to Boston on 9 January 9, 1945.
Departing Boston escorting the USS Laramie, with three other escorts on 15 January 15, 1945, the Tahoma reached St. John's on the 20th when she detached and began escorting convoy SG-58 to Julianehaab, Greenland, detaching and proceeding to Gronne Dal on the 25th. She continued to patrol Weather Station "No. 6," being relieved by the Comanche and Northland periodically until 28 April1945. On 12 May 1945, she began escorting convoy GS-67, consisting of SS Julius Thomsen, arriving Boston on the 25th, for 30 days availability. After 10 days training at Casco Bay she proceeded to Reykjavik, Iceland, via Argentia and St. John's. On August 8, 19145, she proceeded to air-sea rescue patrol station at 62° 45' N x 29° 00' W, returning to Reykjavik on 15 August 1945 for 5 days availability. At the end of August she was at Reykjavik awaiting orders to carry out her post war peacetime duties.
The remainder of her naval service was spent in serving on weather and ice patrol duties between Greenland and Iceland and plane guard operations in the same waters. In the latter service, she alternated with the Coast Guard cutters Frederick Lee, Algonquin, and Mohawk into 1945. At the time of the Japanese surrender in mid-August 1945, Tahoma was at sea on a plane guard station. Released from duty with the Atlantic Fleet on 30 September 1945, Tahoma was returned to the Coast Guard for a resumption of peacetime service. She was then assigned the homeport of Grand Haven, Michigan.
With the peace-time demobilization of the Coast Guard, many cutters were decommissioned due to a lack of personnel to man them and a lack of funding for upkeep and operation. Headquarters then decided that the 165(A)-Class cutters were considered as prime candidates for decommissioning. Tahoma was then declared in a "Decommissioned for Storage" status on 24 October 1947 and placed in mothballs in Cleveland, Ohio.
As the Cold War commenced, and prior to the advent of intercontinental ballistic missiles, there was concern that the Soviet Union might attempt to sail a vessel into a US port armed with a nuclear weapon. In response to this concern, the Coast Guard began a trial program, under the auspices of the Port Security Division, whereby a cutter, known as an "examination" vessel, would be stationed at the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay. There all incoming vessels were requested to supply their identity, cargo, homeport, and last port of call. They would then receive clearance from the cutter to proceed.
Tahoma was re-designated as the examination vessel (her hull designation was changed to "WAGE") on 1 May 1952. Her hull was painted in international orange (another source noted that the color was "canary yellow") and the word "GUARD" was painted on both sides of her hull in black, while her superstructure remained white. She then took up station outside of the Chesapeake Bay after being recommissioned on 16 July 1952. Her crew size was augmented with special boarding teams and more radio and radar operators.
Tahoma was released from guard duty on 30 May 1953. That duty then fell to the Coast Guard shore stations near the entrance of the bay. Tahoma was decommissioned on 5 June 1953 and stored at Curtis Bay, Maryland. She was sold for scrap on 17 October 1955 to the Bethlehem Steel Company.
The Coast Guard at War V: Transports and Escorts. Part I [Escorts], (Washington, DC: U.S. Coast Guard, 1 March 1949), pp. 95-98.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. VII, p. 12.
"The New Coast Guard Cutters." Marine Engineering and Shipping Review 40 (1935), pp. 130-133.
Robert Scheina, U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1982), pp. 21-24.
"Tahoma" Cutter File, Coast Guard Historian's Office.