Fern, 1942 (WLR-304)

Jan. 4, 2021

Fern, 1942

WAGL / WLR-304

Any of numerous flowerless, seedless vascular plants having roots, stems, and fronds and reproducing by spores.

Builder:  Peterson & Haecker Ltd., Blair, Nebraska

Commissioned: 19 November 1942

Decommissioned: 1 September 1971

Length:  114' 6"

Beam:  31'

Draft: 8' 3"

Displacement: 440 tons

Propulsion:  3 Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines; 960 BHP; triple propellers


     Max: 10.7 knots
     Economic: 9.5 knots; 3,800 mile range

Deck Gear: 

Complement: 23

Armament:  None

Electronics: None


In May 1942 the Coast Guard engineering division was ordered to outline a contract for an icebreaking river tender to be in service on the upper Mississippi River complex by the end of the year.  The Fern's final design and the design of her "Amsterdam" ice plow were executed by Peterson & Haecker, Ltd., of Blair, Nebraska.  The Fern was contracted within two weeks and delivered in November before the freeze-up.  She was patterned on a conventional river towboat.  Icebreaking was achieved by means of a detachable Amsterdam-type ice plow that was attached to her bow.  The Fern normally employed a barge, usually CGB-36.

The Fern was assigned to Burlington, Iowa as of 1 November 1944 and was assigned to service river aids to navigation, conduct search and rescue, and break ice when called upon.  From 1 December 1945 until 9 September 1947 she was stationed at St. Louis, Missouri.  From 10 September 1947 until 25 February 1952 she was stationed at Cincinnati, Ohio.  From 26 February 1952 until 1 September 1971 she was stationed at Dubuque, Iowa.

In late April of 1965 she assisted with flood relief near LaCrosse, Wisconsin.  She was decommissioned on 1 September 1971 and was sold, along with her ice plow, on 19 June 1971.


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.

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