WPG-181 (ex-Governor Cobb)
Builder: Delaware River Company, Chester, Pennsylvania
Length: 300' 8"
Displacement: 3,500 tons
Commissioned: 20 July 1943 (USCG)
Decommissioned: 31 January 1946
Disposition: Sold, 6 March 1947
Machinery: 3 Parsons LP impulse turbine, center turbine high pressure, outboard turbines, low pressure; 6 Scotch boilers, 5,000 SHP; triple screws
Performance & Endurance:
Max: 15.7 knots
Cruising: 14.7 knots; 3,300 mile range
Economic: 9.5 knots; 4,370 mile range
Complement: 9 officers, 114 enlisted
Armament: 2 x 5"/38 (single); 6 x 20mm/80 (single); depth charge tracks; 4 "Y" guns; 2 mousetraps.
Electronics: SA & SL detection radars; QCL-8 sonar
Aircraft: None permanently assigned, operated with both HNS-1 and HOS-1 helicopters
The Governor Cobb was the first turbine-propelled commercial ship built in the United States. Eastern Steamship Company awarded the contract to W & A Fletcher Company of Hoboken, New Jersey. The Fletcher Yard constructed the turbines under license from Parsons of England. Fletcher sublet the hull contract to the Chester, Pennsylvania yard. She entered commercial service with the Eastern Steamship Company of Baltimore in 1906.
During World War I she served as a training ship under the U.S. Shipping Board. She was then leased to P & O Steamship Company for Key West - to - Havana service. In 1937 she was sold to Romance Line but failed inspection by the Bureau of Navigation and Steamboat Inspection and she was then laid up. She was taken over by the War Shipping Administration on 5 June 1942 at Philadelphia. She was assigned to the EASTSEAFRON and stationed at New York.
She was acquired by the Coast Guard from the War Shipping Administration. The Cobb underwent conversion to a helicopter landing ship by the General Ship Repair Company of Baltimore. Modifications included cutting down the superstructure and a 38-foot by 63-foot flight deck was added aft. After major modifications and the addition of armor, the Coast Guard commissioned the cutter on 20 July 1943. The cutter measured 289 feet in length, 54 feet in width and had a draft of 18 feet. She carried two 5-inch 38 caliber guns, two 3-inch 50 caliber guns, six 20mm anti-aircraft guns and several depth charge arrangements. After conversion, the 37-year-old ship had the double distinction of being the first turbine-driven ship built in the United States and the first helicopter carrier.
Due to the cutter's aging engines and weak framing, it was constantly in need of repair and its tanks leaked. In fact, all but nine of the first 115 days of service were spent at a Navy yard receiving repairs. The Cobb also began to be used by the Coast Guard for training. In January 1944, the cutter was ordered to Groton, Connecticut, for sound and radar training. The machinery and hull were in such disrepair that it could only be considered for limited duty. In April, headquarters weighed assigning the cutter to New York to work with the helicopter landings aboard ships.
The cutter was equipped with a special landing deck with a net around it. The first flight off the cutter occurred on June 29, 1944. For the rest of the war, the cutter was involved in limited operations, not more than one week out of each month.
She was decommissioned on 31 January 1946 and was sold on 6 March 1947.
Cutter History File. USCG Historian's Office, USCG HQ, Washington, D.C.
Robert Scheina. U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1982.