Chelan, 1928

Nov. 23, 2020

Chelan, 1928

Later-HMS Lulworth, Y-60

The cutter Chelan was named for Lake Chelan, a narrow lake in north-central Washington in the Cascade Range.  It is the third-deepest freshwater lake in the United States

Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts

Builder's Number: CG-45

Launched: 19 May 1928

Commissioned: 5 September 1928

Decommissioned: Transferred to Great Britain on 2 May 1941

Disposition: Returned by Great Britain on 12 February 1946; sold

Displacement: 2,075 tons

Dimensions: 250' oa (236' bp) x 42' x 12' 11" draft (mean)

Machinery: 1 turbine-driven electric motor (General Electric), 2 boilers, 3,350 shp, 14.8 knots (cruising), 17.5 knots max

Propellers: single, 4 blades

Complement: 97 (1940)

Armament: 1 x 5"/51; 1 x 3"/50; 2 x 6-pdrs (1929)

Cost: $900,000 each (hull & machinery)

"Lake"-Class Design:

The 250-foot class cutters were designed by the Coast Guard and were, in many respects, modernized 240-footers.  Captain Q.B. Newman, USCG, designed its innovative turbine-electric-drive power plant, which developed an amazing 3,350 shp.  These were the first to have alternating current, and a synchronous motor for propulsion.  The whole ship ran off the main turbine.  The auxiliary generators were tied into the main generator electrically, after sufficient speed was attained.  At that point, no steam was required to drive the turbines on the auxiliary generators.  The propulsion plant achieved remarkable efficiency.  The counter stern and plumb bow of the older class had given way to the flared stem and cruiser stern.  These features were an attempt to improve sea qualities over the 240-foot class, particularly to eliminate the heavy shocks common in the North Atlantic Ice Patrol.

Initially this class was made up of ten cutters, all of which were transferred to Great Britain under Lend-Lease in 1941.  They were to be replaced in the USCG inventory by the 255-foot Owasco-class vessels, laid down in 1943. Three vessels were lost while in British service, one was not returned, and the remainder turned back to the Coast Guard in 1946.  Initially, the Coast Guard planned to renovate the Champlain, Itasca, Mocoma, and Tampa and return them to service.  The remaining two vessels, the Chelan and Tahoe, were stripped of parts for use in the restoration of the other four ships.  Due to economic constraints following the war, however, only the Mocoma and Tampa were placed in commission.

Types of Work Done by the Lake-Class Cutters:

Prior to their transfer to Great Britain, most of the cutters performed an equal amount of boarding work, with the exception of Tahoe, whose record of 809 vessels boarded was over twice the group average for the period, and of Itasca, whose 528 boarding were 50 percent above the average.  Shoshone reported two and a half times the average number of vessels reported by the group for infractions of navigation laws, and Tahoe twice the average.  

Sebago led in derelicts destroyed, and Chelan in regattas patrolled.  Cayuga and Mendota did the greatest amount of anti-smuggling patrol work, while Itasca and Mendota led in time devoted to assistance work.  Mendota and Pontchartrain spent over twice the average number of hours in winter cruising, while Shoshone, Itasca, and Chelan did all of the Bering Sea Patrol work done by the group.  Champlain and Chelan led in the International Ice Patrol activity, and Cayuga devoted more time than any of the rest to USCG Academy cadet practice cruises.  Tahoe gave the greatest amount of time of any in the group to icebreaking.

Cutter History:

The new Coast Guard cutter Chelan was built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation of Quincy, Massachusetts.  She as launched on 19 May 1928 and was commissioned on 5 September 1928.  She was assigned to Seattle, Washington but transferred to Boston, Massachusetts in 1937.  Prior to that time she sailed on the Bering Sea Patrol annually in addition to her regular patrol work.

At 1930 on 22 March 1937 Chelan, while engaged in trailing another vessel, received information that the 1,600-ton Norwegian steamer SS Bjerkli was in distress at approximately 40-42 N x 59-00 W.  A fresh northwesterly gale with very rough northwesterly seas was experienced throughout the search and subsequent rescue.  Six other vessels answered the distress call.  The Chelan took frequent direction finder bearings on the Norwegian and located her without difficulty, being the first vessel to arrive on-scene.  When found, the Bjerkli was deep in the water and hove to.  Tarpaulins had been stretched over cargo hatches where the hatch covers had washed away, and the ship was leaking badly with the forward hold and engine room filling up.  Cracked pipe lines precluded the use of pumps.  The master expressed his desire to abandon ship and did so with his own boats, the Chelan standing by close aboard to pick up the crew, meanwhile making a lee and putting out oil.  Sixteen officers and crew were taken aboard at 1530 on 23 March, the assistance of two other vessels, which came up in the meantime, being declined.  The cutter stood by the now abandoned Bjerkli until she sank at 2250.  She then proceeded 660 miles to Boston with the survivors.

The Chelan was assigned to the International Ice Patrol in 1940 and the following year she was transferred to Great Britain under the auspices of Lend-Lease on 2 May 1941.  The Royal Navy renamed her HMS Lulworth and assigned her the signal number of Y-60.   She was returned to the U.S. on 12 February 1946 and was sold on 23 October 1947. 


Cutter files, USCG Historian's Office.

Canney, Donald L. U.S. Coast Guard and Revenue Cutters, 1790-1935. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995).

Scheina, Robert L. U.S. Coast Guard Cutters and Craft in World War II. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1982).

Scheina, Robert L. U.S. Coast Guard Cutters and Craft, 1946-1990. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990).

United States Coast Guard, Research and Statistics Section, Operations Division.  The Accomplishments of the Coast Guard Cutters transferred to the United Kingdom. (Washington, DC: United States Coast Guard, 1941).