Spruce, 1923 (WAGL-246)

Nov. 23, 2021

Spruce, 1923

ex-General Garland N. Whistler

Any of various coniferous evergreen trees of the genus Picea, having needlelike foliage, drooping cones, and soft wood often used for paper pulp.

Builder: Fabricated Shipbuilding Corporation and Coddington Engineering Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Length: 172'

Beam: 32'

Draft: 11' 6"

Displacement: 1,130 tons

Cost: $540,000; conversion cost was $48,371

Commissioned: 1919 (U.S. Army); 1923 (USLHS)

Decommissioned: 28 June 1946

Disposition: unknown

Machinery: 2 Allis Chalmers compound, inverted, reciprocating steam engines; 2 Page & Burton watertube boilers; 1,000 SHP; twin propellers.

Performance & Endurance:

        Max: 11.0 knots
        Cruising: 10.0 knots; 1,800 mile range

Deck Gear: 20-ton capacity boom

Complement: 32

Armament: None; WWII ?

Electronics: RCA Model AR-1401 radio-compass.

Class History:    

The Spruce was a Speedwell-class mine planter originally built for the U.S. Army in 1918 and 1919.  Six were transferred to the U.S. Lighthouse Service at no cost in 1922.  The original intent was for these vessels to serve a dual purpose: mine-planter in case of a war, and lighthouse tender during peacetime.  Unfortunately, this conversion proved to be impracticable and too expensive and they were modified exclusively for service as tenders at a cost of between $41,022 to $110,963.  Each had a turtleback forecastle installed and their anchors were mounted high to prevent the ship from being hung up on a buoy she was servicing.  A steel main deck was added forward; new windows were installed in the pilothouse, and a new refrigerating plant was added.  All vessels were then commissioned from 1923 to 1927 with new names.

Tender History:  

The Spruce was assigned to the 3rd Lighthouse District and was based out of Staten Island, New York.  At the start of World War II she was transferred to the 10th Naval District and was based out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, after having armament added the Brooklyn Navy Yard in September, 1942.  She tended aids to navigation and also carried out escort-of-convoy duties.

She was decommissioned on 28 June 1946 and was listed with the Coast Guard's Surplus Property Section "as available for disposal."  She was stored at Charleston, South Carolina.  Her ultimate fate is unknown.


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

Douglas Peterson.  United States Lighthouse Service Tenders, 1840-1939. Annapolis: Eastwind Publishing, 2000.

Robert Scheina.  U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II.  Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1982.