Redbud, 1944 (WAGL 398)

Nov. 2, 2020

Redbud, 1944

WAGL 398 
later USNS Redbud, T-AKL-398 

Any of several shrubs or small trees of the genus Cercis, bearing pinkish blossoms that appear before the leaves.

Builder: Marine Iron & Shipbuilding Company, Duluth, Minnesota

Length: 180'

Beam: 37'

Draft: 14'

Displacement: 1,025 tons

Cost: $926,926

Commissioned: 2 May 1944 

Decommissioned: See below

Disposition: See below

Machinery: 1 electric motor connected to 2 Westinghouse generators driven by 2 Cooper-Bessemer diesels; 1,200 SHP; single propeller.

Performance & Endurance:

        Max: 13,0 knots; 8,000 mile range 
        Cruising: 12.0 knots; 12,000 mile range

Complement: 81

Armament: 1 x 3"/50; 4 x 20mm/80; 2 depth charge tracks; 2 x Mousetraps

Electronics: SL-1 radar; QCU sonar (1945)


Redbud was one of 20 "C" class 180-foot buoy tenders that entered service during World War II.  She was assigned to the 7th Naval District and was based out of Miami, Florida, where she serviced aids to navigation.  She was loaned to the Navy on 18 March 1949 and was redesignated as AKL-398 (although the Navy retained her Coast Guard-given name) on 31 March 1949.  The Navy had her converted at Long Beach, California and she was commissioned on 23 July 1949 under the command of LCDR F. E. Clark, USN.

Following shakedown, Redbud departed Long Beach 3 August 1949 and headed for the east coast.  On 18 September she arrived at Boston, whence she continued on to Argentia to join the support force for the construction and maintenance of air bases and early warning installations in the North Atlantic and Arctic areas.  Through the end of the year and into 1950, she operated along the southwestern coast of Greenland, adding more northerly ports and those on the Canadian side of Baffin Bay to her schedule during the warmer months.  Until 28 February 1952, she continued her support of Arctic bases, rehabilitating navigational aids, activating and repairing submarine petroleum lines, and delivering bulk petroleum and general cargo, as a commissioned U.S. Navy ship.  Then decommissioned, she was simultaneously placed in service, assigned to MSTS, and, with a civil-service crew, returned to sealift support for the Northeast Command (SUNEC).

In 1956 Redbud's schedule was altered to include winter (November through March) supply runs to the Texas Towers which alternated with warmer weather (April through October) SUNEC duties.  Maintaining that schedule through the 1960s, her primary mission continued to be her SUNEC missions, and, until 1970, she was usually the first MSTS ship to arrive in the far north to open a new resupply season.  In August 1969 she rescued eight Swiss explorers from their small ice-battered boat which was beset in the ice pack as they attempted to enter the harbor of the Eskimo village of Kulusuk, Greenland.  This rescue of the members of the 1969 East Greenland Expedition of the Academic Alpine Club from Berne, Switzerland, was executed by the Redbud in a 50-knot wind in heavy ice under the command of CAPT Leyman W. Couch, USN.  The Swiss party had left Kulusuk on the east coast of Greenland, 70 miles south of the Arctic Circle, on 24 July 1969 to scale Rytterknegten on Knud Rasmussen Glacier, and were returning to base when they were beset in the ice.  None of the explorers was injured. 

On 10 November 1970 she was returned to the Coast Guard and was struck from the Navy list ten days later.  She was then transferred to the Republic of the Philippines on 1 March 1972 under a grant-in-aid.  She served the Philippines as Kalinga (AG-89).


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

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.  Washington, DC: USGPO.

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.