Chokeberry, 1946 (WLI-65304)

Dec. 3, 2020

Chokeberry, 1946


Any of various North American shrubs of the genus Aronia, having bitter-tasting red, black, or purple fruit.

Builder: Dubuque Boat & Boiler Company, Dubuque, Iowa

Length: 65'

Beam: 17'

Draft: 3' 6"

Displacement: 68 tons

Cost: N/A

Launched: 23 May 1946

Commissioned: 30 August 1946

Decommissioned: 31 July 2002

Disposition: Given to the Boston Police Department

Machinery: 1 General Motors diesel engine; 220 BHP; single propeller; the engine was replaced by an new 8-cylinder diesel in 1983; 2 x 40-kilowatt diesel generators.


          Maximum Speed: 10 knots
          Economic/Cruising Speed: 8 knots; 913 mile range

Complement: 5

Electronics: None

Armament: Small arms?

Cutter History:

The Chokeberry was one of three 65-foot tenders built in 1946 by the Dubuque Boat & Boiler Company in Dubuque, Iowa.  They were designed by the Coast Guard as inland buoy tenders and were not named until 1963.  They were designed to service short-range aids to navigation (AtoN) along coastal and inland waterways and keep waterways properly marked.  They were capable of operating in large semi-exposed inland waterways, straits, sounds, inlets, rivers, and bays.  They were also designed to push a 100-foot work barge.

The 65-foot buoy tenders had a white wheel house on a raised stern deck over the engine room, a stubby bow, and a large foredeck for the picking boom and working area.  A large hold for storing buoys and navigational supplies was located under the foredeck.  A small galley, head and berthing area provided overnight accommodations and comfort for the crew for up to five days.  They were capable of handling buoys of up to approximately 11 feet 8 inches in height by 5 feet in width, weighing up to 3,004 pounds.  The tenders were designed to work in up to 4-foot seas.  When they first entered service, they had pneumatic winches, manual vangs (pulleys and ropes), a block and tackles for the buoy boom.  This required three to four additional crew members on the deck to pull the buoys.  Over the years, the pneumatic and "muscle" powered winch were replaced with a hydraulic system in 1998 through 1999.

Over their years of service they underwent other changes as well.  Their steel bridge doors were replaced with stainless steel.  Their compasses were replaced and a more quiet exhaust system was installed.  Air conditioning was added as were newer and larger berths.  Their hulls were replaced due to age.  When launched they only carried their designation and hull number, none were named.  Coast Guard policy changed in the early 1960s and each received a name at that time.

Chokeberry was originally stationed at Chattanooga, Tennessee, and used to tend river aids to navigation and light ice-breaking duties.  She and her sisters were also called upon to carry out other Coast Guard missions such as law enforcement, marine safety, search and rescue, and training and public affairs duties when needed.  On 1 July 1960 she transferred to Sheffield, Alabama.  On 9 June 1962 she transferred to Southport, North Carolina, where she tended aids to navigation from Morehead City to the North Carolina / Virginia state border.  She was transferred yet again on 30 March 1982 to Crisfield, Maryland, where she remained for the rest of her Coast Guard career.

Crewmen noted that buoy work in the inland coastal waters differs from similar work in the western rivers.  In the rivers, buoys may be moved as often as every two weeks to mark the shifting channel or water level.  The buoys mark the edge of the channel.  In the coastal areas, the water level is more consistent.  Coastal channel buoys remain in a consistent location and are charted; river channel buoys are generally not charted.  Coastal rivers also have different weather, tidal influences, and usually choppier water.  Therefore, when the Chokeberry moved out of the western rivers, she shed her barge and had bulwarks installed.

Upon her move to Crisfield in 1982, she began servicing the Chesapeake Bay area rivers, which up to that time had been serviced by a 45-foot tender (CG-45309-D).  This 45-foot tender did not have showers and was not as sea-worthy as the 65-footers.  Although Chokeberry was relatively slow (8 miles per hour), her shall draft of 3 feet, 6 inches allowed her to cut across shallower waters, which made her quicker in some situations.  Her flat hull allowed her to easily slide off the bottom if she ran aground, not an uncommon occurrence in shallow waters affected by the tide.  

She serviced aids to navigation on the Rappahannock, Potomac, Nanticoke, Wicomico, and Choptank river, which were used primarily by fuel and gravel barges.  She maintained 270 lights (pole, board with number, light and power source), 278 day beacons (pole and board with number) and 85 unlit buoys.  On average, she was at sea 12 times a year for one week each time, with one day spent sailing to her destination.  From 1989 through 1999, Chokeberry spent 3,142 hours tending aids to navigation, 94 hours on marine safety duties, 69 hours conducting law enforcement missions, 4 hours on search and rescue, 3 hours breaking ice, and 933 hours on support operations, including training and public affairs work.

Although she was not noted for her speed, Chief William Callahan, her OIC from 1993 to 1996, claimed to hold her speed record of 10.8 knots while heading down the Potomac River on a receding tide.

She was decommissioned on 31 July 2002 and was transferred to the Boston Police Department.

Commanding Officers:

1946-1957: ??
1957-1960: BM1 W. T. Scotton
1960-1963: ??
1963-1966: BM1 L. R. Scarborough
1966-1968: BM1 R. C. Rollension
1968-1972: BMC M. S. Daniels, Jr.
1972-1973: BMC J. C. Craddock
1973-1975: BMC M. S. Rhodes
1975-1978: BM1 I. Pitzing
1978-1980: BM1 J. R. Scullion, Jr.

1980-1981: BMC E. P. Daniels
1981-1982: BM1 G. K. Bohr
1982-1984: BMC J. D. McManis
1984-1988: BMC R. K. Griffing
1988-1990: BMCS W. S. Reynolds
1990-1993: BMCS R. G. Marlow
1993-1996: BMCS W. R. Callahan
1996-1999: BMCS S. B. Hearn
1999-2002: BMC Jerry S. Tarr


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

Historic Context and Statement of Significance: USCGC CHOKEBERRY United States Coast Guard 65-foot Inland Buoy Tender.  May, 2000.

Robert Scheina. U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946 - 1990. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990.