Air Station Ten Pound Island, Massachusetts

June 14, 2022

Air Station Ten Pound Island, Massachusetts


Original Location: 
Squantum & later Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, MA 

Current Location:

Date of Commission:

Disestablished when?

Historical Remarks:

In 1925 LCDR C. C. von Paulsen, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Base Seven, on his own initiative, acquired a Navy Vought UO-1 seaplane that had been declared surplus and was stored at Cape May.  He knew the value of aerial searches, particularly as it would apply to the enforcement of Prohibition.  He began flight operations out of the Naval Reserve Air Station at Squantam, Massachusetts, before moving to Ten Pound Island, where he utilized a surplus Army tent as a hangar.  According to CAPT William P. Wishar, who commanded the Coast Guard Air Station at Morehead City:

The second and permanent stage commenced in 1925.  Lieutenant Commander Carl C. von Paulsen, commanding Coast Guard Section Base #7 at Gloucester, Massachusetts, knowing the value of aviation for sea searching, initiated action to get an airplane to aid in his patrol boat searches.  These were the days of prohibition and rum-runners.  The Coast Guard had established many section bases along all its coasts to stop the illegal importing of liquor by sea.  From these bases, patrol boats searched at sea for rum-runners, carrying contraband liquors.  . .But there were so many rum-runners, and the ocean is so big, and the patrol boats had to replenish fuel and supplies, that it was often a heart breaking task.  Von Paulsen as a flier knew the value of planes for searching at sea.  He interested Lieutenant Commander Stephen S. Yeandle, aide to Rear Admiral Frederick Billard, Commandant of the Coast Guard, in the idea of getting planes for searching the ocean for rum runners.  Yeandle in turn discussed the idea with Admiral Billard who favored it.  But there was no money, no appropriation.  In spite of this, they planned and "scummed schemes," all on a shoestring.  An old O2U-2 single float biplane with a 200 horse-power motor had been stored in a hanger at Cape May Section Base.  It was surplus.  Some enlisted personnel from the first C.G. Air Station at Morehead City were at Section Base #7.  A small, unused island belonging to U. S. Fisheries near Section Base #7 was acquired for temporary use.  It was called "Ten Pound Island."  A large surplus tent was acquired from the Army for $1.00.  It became the "hangar."  Coast Guard aviation was starting again.  Von Paulsen and Melka flew the old crate searching at sea for rum-runners and keeping tabs on patrol boats.  A year later Admiral Billard was successful in obtaining from Congress an appropriation for five planes for the Coast Guard with some equipment.  Three were sent to Ten Pound Island and two to Cape May.  Thus the puling infant was given sustenance, was carefully nurtured, and grew to its present efficient stature.

As a result of von Paulsen's successful efforts demonstrating the usefulness of aerial flight for Coast Guard operations, Congress appropriated $152,000 to support Coast Guard aviation.  The service purchased five Loening OL-5 amphibians, as Wishar noted, and three were sent to Ten Pound Island.

Commanding Officers

1925: LCDR Carl C. von Paulsen

Historic Photo Gallery

Unless otherwise indicated all photos are official U.S. Coast Guard photographs.  Any original caption information is included in the text beneath each photo, along with a date, if known.  Click on the thumbnail to access a larger image.

Images scanned from page 44 of the January, 1941 issue of the Coast Guard Magazine.  The caption stated: "Lower left -- This ancient tent housed the first planes of 1925.  Lower right -- The personnel of Base Seven erected this wooden hangar at a cost of five thousand dollars."

Historical Sources:

Air Station Files, U. S. Coast Guard Historian's Office

Arthur Pearcy.  A History of U. S. Coast Guard Aviation.  Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1989.