Raritan, 1939 (WYTM 93)

Nov. 2, 2020

Raritan, 1939


A branch of the Delaware Indian tribe first found near what today is Youngstown, Ohio.

Builder: Defoe Boat Works, Bay City, Michigan

Length: 110'

Beam: 26' 5"

Draft: 12'

Displacement: 328-tons

Cost: $309,000

Commissioned: 11 April 1939

Decommissioned: 14 May 1988


Machinery:  1 Westinghouse electric motor connected to 2 Westinghouse generators driven by 2 General Motors 8-567A 8-cylinder diesel engines; 1,000 SHP; single propeller

Performance & Endurance:

        Max: 13.0 knots
        Cruising: 10.0 knots; 3,500 mile range (1945); 8.0 knots; 2,000 mile range (1961)

Complement: 16 (1945); 20 (1961)

Armament: Small arms (when launched)

Electronics: SO-8 radar (1945); SPN-11 (1961)


The first cutter named Raritan was one of four 110-foot tugs built for the Coast Guard in the late-1930s.  They were a follow-on to the 110-foot Calumet-class tugs and were capable of breaking ice up to three feet thick.  They were officially referred to in the Coast Guard Description of Cutters document as a "Harbor Cutter."

She was launched at the same time with her sister cutter Naugatuck on 23 March 1939, the first dual launching to ever take place in Bay City, Michigan.  She was commissioned on 11 April 1939.  During World War II she was transferred to Navy control and was assigned to CINCLANT (DESLANT) and was home-ported in Boston.  She was among the first vessels assigned to the newly established South Greenland Patrol.  She escorted convoys to Greenland and back and patrolled in Greenland waters.

During one escort mission in June, 1943, she was sailing from Narsarssauak, Greenland to St. Johns, Newfoundland in company with the U.S. Army transport Fairfax and the cutters Tampa, Mojave, Algonquin, Storis and Escanaba.  On 12 June the convoy encountered a number of icebergs and dense fog.  These conditions continued on the morning of 13 June when observers aboard the Storis spotted an enormous cloud of smoke and flames shooting upward from Escanaba's position.  Raritan and Storis sped to the scene only to discover that the Escanaba had sunk.  After 45 minutes of searching, Raritan sighted and rescued two survivors and recovered a body which they buried at sea the following morning.  None of the other 100 crewmen of Escanaba were found.  The cause of her sinking remains a mystery. 

From December 1942 into 1943 she assisted in building LORAN stations in Greenland.  On 1 September 1945 she was assigned to the 7th Coast Guard District and was based out of Portsmouth, Virginia.  From 1963 to 1972 she served out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  On 20 August 1965 she assisted in the search for debris from a United Airlines crash in Lake Michigan.  From 1973 to 1979 she was stationed at Grand Haven, Michigan.  On 12 January 1973 she helped extinguish a fire aboard the tanker Venus in Little Bay De Noc for which she received a Coast Guard Unit Commendation.  From 1980 to 1988 she was stationed at Governors Island, New York.  On 28 July 1987 she seized the M/V Sarah off Long Beach, New York, for illegal commercial broadcasting from a ship.

She was decommissioned on 14 May 1988.  She was used for spare parts for a number of years after her retirement.


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.