CAPE SMALL, 1953
Builder: Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, MD
Commissioned: 17 July 1953
Decommissioned: 13 April 1987
Disposition: Transferred to Marshall Islands, 10 December 1987
Length: 95’ oa; 90’ wl
Navigation Draft: 6’4”
Beam: 20’ max.
Displacement (tons): 102 fl (A)
Main Engines: 4 Cummins VT-600 diesels; 2 Detroit 16V149 diesels (renovated)
BHP: 2,200; 2,470 (renovated)
Performance, Max. Speed: 20 kts.; 24 kts. (renovated)
Performance, Cruising: 12 kts., 1,418-mi radius (1961)
Fuel Capacity: 3,114 gallons
Complement: 15 (1961)
Radar: SPS-64 (1987)
Sonar: retractable type
Armament: 2 mousetraps, 2 depth charge racks, 2 20mm (twin), 2 .50-cal. machine guns (as completed). 2 12.7mm mg, 2 40mm Mk 64 grenade launchers (1987)
Class history—The 95-foot or Cape class was an outgrowth of a need for shallow-draft anti-submarine-warfare (ASW) craft brought on by the increasing tensions during the years immediately following World War II. During the period of construction, three distinctive sub-classes evolved as the Coast Guard’s mission emphasis shifted from ASW to search and rescue (SAR), The A Type 95-footer was outfitted primarily for ASW. The B Type differed by mounting a 40 mm vice 20 mm gun and being fitted with scramble nets, a towing bit, and a large searchlight – all important SAR tools. The C Type units were constructed without the heavy armament and for economy some of the SAR equipment was also deleted. However, the Coast Guard added these SAR items to both the As and Cs during various refits. A renovation program began in the mid-1970s but was ended, due to increasing expenses and a shortage of funds, after 16 boats had been overhauled.
The 95-footers were designed by the Coast Guard and built at the Coast Guard Yard. Their hulls were made of steel while their superstructures were made of aluminum. This proved to be problematic throughout their service lives due to electrolysis between the dissimilar metals.
These cutters remained unnamed until January of 1964.
The Cape Small was stationed at Hilo, HI, from 1953 to 1987 and was used for law enforcement and SAR. In mid-December 1968, she rescued the pilot of the ditched Piper Cherokee aircraft 9 miles north-northwest of the island of Hawaii. In October 1983, she towed the disabled F/V Wings 300 miles to Hawaii.
Cutter History File. USCG Historian's Office, USCG HQ, Washington, D.C.
Robert Scheina. U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946-1990. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990.