World War I Commemoration: 100 Year Anniversary

Please search the image and resource galleries at the bottom of the page for images, articles, documents and publications detailing the Coast Guard's involvement in World War I

The U. S. Coast Guard & U.S. Lighthouse Service in World War I

Crew of the USCGC TAMPA

    April 6th, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the Coast Guard’s entry into World War I and the Service’s important role in supporting the war effort.  It was on Friday, April 6th, 1917, the day Congress declared war on Germany, that the U.S. Navy’s communications center in Arlington, Virginia, transmitted the code words “Plan One, Acknowledge” to Coast Guard cutters, units and bases initiating the Coast Guard’s transfer from the Treasury Department to the Navy and placing the Service on a wartime footing.

     During the war’s nearly nineteen months, the Coast Guard and Lighthouse Service would lose almost two hundred men and five ships. These ships included two combat losses. On August 6th, 1918, U-140 sank the Diamond Shoals Lightship after her crew transmitted to shore the location of the marauding enemy submarine, but no lives were lost. However, on September 26th, 1918, after completing her convoy escort duty from Gibraltar to Milford Haven, England, Cutter Tampa was torpedoed by UB-91. The cutter sank killing all 131 persons on board, including four U.S. Navy men, sixteen Royal Navy personnel and 111 Coast Guard officers and men. It proved America’s greatest World War I naval loss of life due to combat.

    Nearly 9,000 Coast Guard men and women would participate in the war. This number included over 200 Coast Guard officers, many of whom served as warship commanders, troop ship captains, training camp commandants and naval air station commanders. In all, Coast Guard heroes received two Distinguished Service Medals, eight Gold Life-Saving Medals, almost a dozen foreign honors and nearly fifty Navy Cross Medals, dozens more than were awarded to Coast Guardsmen in World War II.


Department of Homeland Security World War I Centennial Poster Series

The U.S. Coast Guard during the First World War

Department of Homeland Security and the First World War

World War I Image Gallery
USRC Perry off Unalaska
Revenue Cutters assigned to the Bering Sea Patrol in October, 1908, tied up at Unalaska.
Officers of the Bering Sea Patrol fleet, 27 September 1908.
The officers and crew of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Rush, 1 November 1908.
Revenue Cutters of the 1908 Bering Sea Patrol tied up in Unalaska, June, 1908, including USRC Bear on the right.
USRC Bear at anchor in July, 1908 off Alaska.
Salisbury Beach USLSS Crew, surfboat & cart
Coast Guard Patrol Boat MARION as she was about to sail from Boston, Mass., July 11, 1928, on scientific expedition to waters between Labrador and Greenland.
A 1944 photo of four SPAR CPOs:  Left to right: Judith Balinsky, Chief Yeoman, of Akron; Leone Peppard, Chief Storekeeper, of Grand Forks, North Dakota; Leta Belgard, Chief Storekeeper, of Fairport, New York, and Frances Brown, Chief Yeoman, of San Francisco."
African-American Coast Guard gun crew during World War II
Officers of the Coast Guard [sic--Revenue Cutter Service] Bering Sea Patrol Fleet, 1908
The former Revenue & Coast Guard Cutter Bear sinks while under tow off Newfoundland.
Joshua James and the Point Allerton Life-Saving Service crew.
Joshua James and the Point Allerton Life-Saving Service crew.
Life-saving crew on a surfboat at Neah Bay station.
MS Prinsendam sinking with a USCG HH-3 flying above the wreck
The crew of a revenue cutter, possible USRC Forward, circa 1900.
An aerial photo of the tanker Argo Merchant sinking off Nantucket Island in 1976.  USCGC Vigilant steams nearby.
Pioneer, trailblazer and hero Captain Eleanor L'Ecuyer at her desk, date unknown.
Coaling the cutter Bear in Alaska
World War I Resources
Recollections, reminisces, and thoughts about life on a lightship from five former crewman and the daughter of LV-116's first commanding officer. The interviews were conducted by historian Frank Hebblethwaite. We recently discovered a number of relatively old cassette tapes in the back of a file cabinet and asked our tireless volunteer, Ms. Seamond M. Roberts, to transcribe them for us. She cheerfully obliged and presented us with, much to
our surprise and delight, a transcript of a series of interviews with five former crewmen of Light Vessel Number 116, each of whom served on board during the 1930's. Also included was an interview with the daughter of the first commanding officer of LV-116. The interviews were conducted by historian Frank Hebblethwaite and to our knowledge they are the only transcribed interviews of lightship sailors available on the World Wide Web.
LV 116 1930s Crew Oral Hi...
An oral history interview with Rear Admiral Robert Duncan, USCG, who commanded the Eighth Coast Guard District when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005.
RADM Robert Duncan's ...
An oral history interview with MCPOCG Charles "Skip" Bowen, USCG (Ret) as conducted by his daughter, Kristen.
MCPOCG Charles "Skip...
A list of cutter nicknames as provided by crewmembers.  It is an official list provided for historical interest only.
Cutter Nicknames
An illustrated narrative history of the Captain of the Port duties as carried out by the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II.
Captains of the Port (COP...

By Lieutenant Worth G. Ross, USRM; Harpers New Monthly Magazine, Volume 73, Issue 438, November 1886
History of U.S. Revenue M...
"The Evolution of the Life-Saving System of the United States from 1837 to June 30, 1892. An Outline of the Part Taken in its Development by the United States Revenue Marine." 
1st. Lieut. C. F. Shoemaker (Late Asst. Inspector of Life-Saving Stations.
Evolution of Life-Saving ...
Virginia Neal Thomas
A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Old Dominion University
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
December 2010
Women's Work - Female...
Experimental Lightship LV 99 imagery
LV EXP (LV-99) Images
U.S. Navy Temporary Lightships
USN Lightships (Temporary)
U.S. Lightship Station Assignments

(Stations are listed alphabetically, with dates that the station was in service and general locations noted, along with a list of each light ship that was assigned to that particular station by dates of service.)
Lightship Station Assignm...
"A Snapshot of Life Aboard the USCG Lightship Relief LV-78 / WAL-505 From April 1957 to April 1959."  Photos and information are courtesy of Jay McCarthy, USCG
Life Aboard LIGHTSHIP LV-78
LIGHTSHIP Memories of RELIEF Lightship LV-78 / WAL-505 in the late 1950s.  Written by J.F. "Jay" McCarthy, USCG (Ret.)
Lightship Memories, LV-78
A Historic Photo Gallery of Images of Lightships
American Lightships, 1820-1983: History, Construction, and Archaeology within the Maritime Cultural Landscape
by Morgan MacKenzie
April, 2011

ECU Master's Thesis
American Lightships, 1820...
The Coast Guard At War -- Landings in France, Volume XI, 1946
USCG At War - Landings In...
Out of Uniform: Civilians in the U.S. Coast Guard
Civilians in the Coast Gu...
Civil-Service Regulations for the Lighthouse Service, 1928 (Washington, DC: United States Department of Commerce, Lighthouse Service/USGPO), Adopted December 7, 1927 Effective July 1, 1928
Civil-Service Regulations...
Regulations Governing the Uniforms of the Officers and Men of the United States Light-House Establishment, 1907
Uniform Regulatons, USLHE...
Efficiency of the Revenue-Cutter Service, Senate Report No. 65, 56th Congress, 1st Session, January 11, 1900 [to accompany S. 728].
Efficiency of the Revenue...