Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Coast Guard Cutter Cartigan WSC-132

This ship used to sit moored to the wooden foot bridge opposite Lundy's in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. I used to fish from that bridge as a kid. When I was a teenager there was nothing more exotic for me than to walk the less than one mile from my family's apartment on Avenue R to look at it.

When I was 18 I wrote a poem sitting at the opposite end of the Bay and looking at her. You might say we had a relationship with one another. She was always there for me, and she could always count on me to visit her. She was old and in need of a paint job. Her length was only 125 foot long and she displaced a mere 232 tons - but to me she was the Queen Mary and represented the entire world which lay beyond the horizon.

I had been told that she was a World War One vessel that had been designed for Coastal Defense. It was sad to learn that this was not true. But the real story is just as good.

Built by American Brown in Camden, New Jersey, her keel was laid in 1926 and she was at sea by the spring of 1927. Her total cost was $76,000. Her primary duty was as a Revenue Cutter- she chased down and boarded the rum runners which were plying the coast then in defiance of the Volstead Act. Legs Diamond lived a few short blocks away in Manhattan Beach. I only mention this because alot of bootleggers were buying some of the older cutters and intercepting their rival gangs shipments of illegal liquor only 12 miles from the Bay. A bit of irony.

After capturing a rum runner in 1930 she was transferred to Norfolk, Virginia. In 1932 she went to Harbor Beach, Michigan where she would remain for 10 years. In 1942 she was transferred to Connecticut where she did light ice breaking duty. In 1943 she was sent back to Brooklyn to patrol the coast, looking for German U-boats that were sinking ships as close as 10 miles off Coney Island and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Decommissioned in 1969 and sold in 1972 for $26,129 she remained at her moorings, where she sank in 2003. In 2004 she was raised and sold for scrap.

Fond memories for me of a ship that influenced my decision to join the Navy and then later the Merchant Marines. Sometimes inspiration can come from the most unexpected of places- in this case a battered old ship "welded" to its' pier propelled me on a journey that took me around the world 3 times in an attempt to find out just who I was. By the way, I'm still looking...

No messages or lessons here- just a small tribute to something that was such a great influence in my life.

No comments:

Post a Comment