Sauk, 1944 (WYTM 99)

Oct. 30, 2020

Sauk, 1944


A Native American people formerly inhabiting parts of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa, with a present-day population mainly in Oklahoma.  Sauk resistance to removal from their Illinois lands ended in 1832 with the Black Hawk War.

Builder: Ira S. Bushey & Sons, Brooklyn, New York

Length: 110'

Beam: 26' 5"

Draft: 11' 6"

Displacement: 384 tons (fl)

Cost: $622,677

Commissioned: 25 May 1944

Decommissioned: 30 April 1985

Disposition: Sold

Machinery: 1 x electric motor driven by 2 Elliot Electric Company generators driven by 2 Ingersoll Rand 8-cylinder diesels; single propeller.

Electronics: SO-2 radar (1945)

Firefighting Equipment: 2 fire monitors (1,500 gpm pumping capacity); P250 pumps

Complement: 16

Armament: 2 x 20mm/80 (single-mount; 1944)

Class History:

These 110-foot tugs were contracted for on 8 June 1941.  Their design was based on an earlier 110-foot Calumet-class design which had entered commissioned service beginning in 1934.  The newer design simply incorporated changes needed for operations in Greenland waters, including light icebreaking, as well as better fire-fighting capabilities.


The Sauk was launched on 10 September 1943 and she was commissioned on 25 May 1944.  She was assigned to the Third District and was based out of New York harbor where her missions included search and rescue, firefighting, towing assistance, light ice breaking, and law enforcement, including customs' boardings of merchant vessels entering New York Harbor.

On 4 January 1962 she struck a rock while in the Hudson River and sank.  She was refloated, repaired, and returned to service.  On 2 July 1964 she delivered an incubator to the M/V Maasdan in New York harbor.  She transferred to Gloucester City, New Jersey in 1965 where she remained based until 1968.  She transferred to Governors Island in 1968, where she remained home-ported until her decommissioning.  In addition to carrying out her normal missions, each winter she would alternate with sister cutters Mahoning and Manitou in breaking ice on the Hudson River from New York City to Albany, with each cutter operating for a week at a time.  

On 12 December 1968 she assisted following a fire on the British M/V Manchester Miller in New York harbor.  In December 1969 she directed traffic during the salvage of the tanker Princess Bay, which was aground in Hell Gate.  On 11 February 1970 while towing a sludge barge for the state of New Jersey, the barge struck a railroad bridge at Perth Amboy.

During a city-wide strick by tugboat operators and longshoremen in New York City that began on 1 April 1979, Mayor Ed Koch of New York asked for federal assistance.  The Secretary of Transportation, Brock Adams, at the behest of President Jimmy Carter, ordered the Commandant, ADM John B. Hayes, to direct the commanding officer of the Third Coast Guard District, VADM Robert I. Price, "to cooperate with Mayor Koch in the movement of sanitation barges within the harbor."  Beginning on 7 May 1979,  the Sauk, along with the cutters Manitou and Red Beech, began moving 16 garbage scows from a Staten Island landfill site to refuse pick-up points in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.  Although the Group received an anonymous bomb threat that proved to be a hoax, the movement of garbage was carried out without incident into the month of June.  The cutters were relieved by the CGC Snohomish in June.

On 3 March 1980 she helped fight a fire at the Weehawken Pier and on 17 June 1980 on the Hudson River, along with small craft, fought a fire on the tug Hudson River #4.  The Sauk was decommissioned on 30 April 1985 and was sold.


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

Robert Scheina.  U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II.  Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1982.

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