Reliance, 1927

Nov. 2, 2020

Reliance, 1927

WSC 150

The act of relying: one that can be depended on.

TYPE/RIG/CLASS: Active Class Patrol Boat

BUILDER: American Brown Boveri Electric Corp., Camden, NJ

COST: $63,173 each

COMMISSIONED: 26 April 1927

LAUNCHED: 18 April 1927

DECOMMISSIONED: 8 August 1947 and sold 16 June 1948; possibly used as a fishing vessel in Alaskan waters(?)


PROPULSION: 2 x 6-cylinder, 300 hp engines

LENGTH: 125 feet

BEAM: 23 feet, 6 inches

DRAFT: 7 feet, 6 inches

COMPLEMENT: 3 officers, 17 men

ARMAMENT: 1 3"/27 (1927); in WWII two dc racks were added

Class History:

This class of vessels was one of the most useful and long- lasting in Coast Guard service with 16 cutters still in use in the 1960’s. The last to be decommissioned from active service was the Morris in 1970; the last in actual service was the Cuyahoga, which sank after an accidental collision in 1978. They were designed for trailing the "mother ships" along the outer line of patrol during Prohibition.  They were constructed at a cost of $63,173 each. They gained a reputation for durability that was only enhanced by their re-engining in the late 1930’s; their original 6-cylinder diesels were replaced by significantly more powerful 8-cylinder units that used the original engine beds and gave the vessels 3 additional knots.  All served in World War II, but two, the Jackson and Bedloe, were lost in a storm in 1944.  Ten were refitted as buoy tenders during the war and reverted to patrol work afterward.


USCGC Reliance, built for the Coast Guard as an Active-class patrol boat by American Brown Boveri Electrical Corp., Camden, N.J., was launched 4 April 1927 and commissioned 26 April at Camden.  Through October 1928, she was assigned patrol and rescue operations in the area of New York City.  During this time she served as an occasional unit of the floating equipment utilized by the Coast Guard in its battle against the seagoing rumrunners.

Upon transfer from New York City in 1928, Reliance assumed patrol operations in lower New York Bay, operating out of Stapleton, Borough of Richmond, N.Y., through May 1933.  Her permanent station was transferred to Norfolk, Va., 22 May and she performed patrol and rescue operations in the Tidewater area until late 1935. She then shifted station to Honolulu, Hawaii, where she was operating at the outbreak of World War II.   She was rearmed for combat operations in December, 1940.  Executive Order 8929 of 1 November 1941 transferred the Coast Guard to the Navy. 

During the war she sailed out of Pearl Harbor.  She depth charged a submarine contact in the spring of 1944 off Johnston Island.  On 3 July 1944, the submarine USS S-28, in accordance with orders from COMDESPAC, got underway from the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, to conduct a week's normal operations. During the day on July 3, S-28 acted as a target for anti-submarine warfare vessels until about 1700 local time. At that time she made two practice torpedo approaches on the Reliance. On July 4 S-28 again carried out sonar exercises as on the previous day, and at 1730 again undertook a practice approach on Reliance.

At 1730 S-28 dived about four miles distant from Reliance.  At about 1805 Reliance made sound contact with S-28 at a range of 1700 yards.  The range decreased to about 1500 yards and then steadily increased, as the bearing drifted aft. Although sound contact was temporarily lost by Reliance at 3,000 yards, she picked up the submarine again at 3,300 yards.  At 1820, with range 4,700 yards, Reliance permanently lost sound contact with S-28.  At no time during the approach or the ensuing sound search were distress signals from S-28 seen or heard, nor was any sound heard which indicated an explosion in S-28.

When by 1830, S-28 had not surfaced or sent any signals, Reliance retraced her course and tried to establish communication with her.  Although previous tests had showed that no difficulty would be experienced in exchanging messages by sound gear at ranges up to 2,000 yards, Reliance was unable to contact S-28.  The Coast Guard cutter called in other vessels from Pearl Harbor at 2000, and a thorough search of the area was instituted, lasting until the afternoon of July 6, 1944.  A slick, which was unmistakably made by diesel oil, was the only sign of S-28.  The Court of Inquiry which investigated the sinking determined that S-28 sank shortly after 1820 on July 4, 1944 in 1400 fathoms of water.  Because of the depth of the water, salvage operations were impossible.  The cause of the sinking was never determined.

Reliance returned to the Treasury Department 1 January 1946 and transferred to Cordova, AK and served the Coast Guard until she decommissioned 8 August 1947. She was sold 16 June 1948.


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.