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Acushnet celebrates 60th year of service

January 28, 2004
Wednesday - 12:50 am


Ketchikan, Alaska - The Coast Guard cutter Acushnet celebrates its 60th birthday Feb. 5, 2004.

Acushnet was originally commissioned as the salvage ship USS SHACKLE (ARS 9) for the U.S. Navy Feb. 5, 1944.  On August 23, 1946, Acushnet was commissioned as a Diver Class Cutter in the US Coast Guard.  That same year, two other vessels of the same class: the Escape (ex-ARS 6) and Yokona (ex-SEIZE ARS 26) also joined the Coast Guard fleet as Diver Class Cutters.

Acushnet is designated as a tug (WAT), an oceanographic vessel (WAGO), and a medium endurance cutter (WMEC).  It is the second Coast Guard cutter to bear the name Acushnet and is the second oldest medium endurance cutter still in operation, the oldest being the Storis (61 years of service) in Kodiak, Alaska.


Coast Guard cutter Acushnet, Circa 1950
Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard


While both sister ships have been decommissioned, Acushnet continues to serve as a medium endurance cutter in the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea.  Previous plans would have brought all of the cutters out of service by the mid-1990's but Coast Guard policy reviews continue to extend the service-life of Acushnet, as suitable replacements have not been constructed to meet the demanding operating environment of Alaska and the Bering Sea.

Acushnet's operational history as USS Shackle includes participation in the salvage efforts at Pearl Harbor, Midway Island, Eniwetok, Guam, Saipan, and Japan.  The salvage ship also played active roles in the battles over Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  During WWII it earned three battle stars. 

Acushnet's first homeport as a Coast Guard tug was Portland, Maine, where its crew earned a valiant reputation as a dependable friend to fishermen and boaters in distress.  From 1968 to 1978, 
 
Acushnet supported the National Data Buoy Project while designated as an oceanographic vessel primarily in San Diego (1968-1971) and then in Gulfport, Miss.  In 1978, Acushnet was reclassified as a medium endurance cutter primarily to enforce maritime laws in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.  Acushnet crews also executed other duties, such as environmental protection, boating safety, search and rescue, and participated in Sealift 1980, the Cuban refugee crisis.


 

Cutter Acushnet patrols the Bering Sea.  It crew  enforces U.S. law at the Maritime Boundary Line, Gulf of Alaska, and Bering Sea.
Official U.S. Coast Guard file photo


In 1990, Acushnet changed homeports to Eureka, Calif., and patrolled the West Coast from the southern waters of California to the northern waters of the Bering Sea.  Acushnet changed homeport to Ketchikan, Alaska in 1998 from where it now patrols primarily the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.

Nicknamed "The 'A' Team in Alaskan Fisheries," Acushnet is credited with handling the Alaskan environment more effectively than most other cutters even though it lacks a flight deck and modern weapons systems.  Its current missions consist of homeland defense, search and rescue, and law enforcement.

During the course of 60 years of service, Acushnet crews have received the following awards for exemplary service: World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, 2 Coast Guard Unit Commendations, 5 Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendations, 7 Coast Guard "E" Ribbons, Navy Occupation Service Medal, 3 National Defense Service Medals, 2 Humanitarian Service Medals, and 2 Coast Guard Special Operation Ribbons.

Acushnet and its crew will be on patrol Feb. 5th, so the crew will celebrate the cutter's 60 years of service Jan. 29th as it continues to serve the nation.

 

 

 

Acushnet:

"Ignore Blizzard -- Return To Ship" by Sid Morris - USCG, July 1951 -July 1954

 


Source of News Release & Photographs:

United States Coast Guard
Web Site


 

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