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USCGC Bering Strait (WAVP-382)
USCGC Bering Strait (WHEC-382)
USCGC Bering Strait (WAVP-382, WHEC-382), 1970 In Subic Bay Vietnam War service.
Career (United States) Ensign of the United States Coast Guard.svg
Name: USCGC Bering Strait
Namesake: The Bering Strait, which connects the Arctic Ocean with the Bering Sea (previous name retained)
Builder: Lake Washington Shipyard, Houghton, Washington
Laid down: 7 June 1943
Launched: 15 January 1944
Completed: July 1944
Acquired: Loaned by United States Navy to Coast Guard 14 September 1948
Transferred permanently from Navy to Coast Guard 26 September 1966
Commissioned: 14 December 1948
Decommissioned: 1 January 1971[1]
Reclassified: High endurance cutter, WHEC-382, 1 May 1966
Fate: Transferred to South Vietnam 1 January 1971
Taken over by the Republic of the Philippines April 1975
Transferred to Philippines on 5 April 1976
Discarded in July 1990, probably sold for scrapping
Notes: Served as United States Navy seaplane tender USS Bering Strait (AVP-34) 1944-1946
Served as South Vietnamese patrol vessel RVNS Tran Quang Khai (HQ-02) 1971-1975
Served as Philippine Navy patrol vessel BRP Diego Silang (PF-9) 1975-1985
General characteristics
Class & type: Casco-class cutter
Displacement: 2,498 tons (full load) in 1964
Length: 311 ft 7 in (94.97 m) overall; 299 ft 11 in (91.41 m) between perpendiculars
Beam: 41 ft 0 in (12.50 m) maximum
Draft: 13 ft 1 in (3.99 m) maximum in 1964
Installed power: 6,400 bhp (4,800 kW)
Propulsion: Fairbanks-Morse geared diesel engines, two shafts; 165,625 US gallons (626,960 L) of fuel
Speed: 17.3 knots (32.0 km/h) (maximum sustained in 1966)
10.0 knots (18.5 km/h) (economic in 1966)
Range: 10,138 nautical miles (18,776 km) at 17.3 knots (32.0 km/h) in 1966
20,000 nautical miles (37,000 km) at 10.0 knots (18.5 km/h) in 1966
Complement: 151 (10 officers, 3 warrant officers, 138 enlisted personnel) in 1966
Sensors and
processing systems:
Radars in 1966 (one each): AN/SPA-4A; AN/SPS-23; ID-445/SPS; IP-307/SPS; IP-452/SPS; Mark 34 M11 ; AN/SPS-29B; AN/UPA-24A; AN/UPX-1A
Armament: In 1966: 1 x single 5-inch (127 mm) 38-caliber Mark 12-1 gun mount; Mark 57 M4 director; Mark 4 M4 fire control radar; 2 x .50-caliber (12.7-millimeter machine guns; 1 x Mark 10-1 antisubmarine projector; 2 x Mark 32 Mod 2 torpedo launchers with 3 torpedo tubes each)

USCGC Bering Strait (WAVP-382), later WHEC-382, was a Casco-class United States Coast Guard cutter in service from 1948 to 1971.

Construction and U.S. Navy serviceEdit

Bering Strait began life as the United States Navy Barnegat-class seaplane tender USS Bering Strait (AVP-34). She was laid down on 7 June 1943 by Lake Washington Shipyard at Houghton, Washington, launched on 15 January 1944, and commissioned into the U.S. Navy on 19 July 1944. She served in the Central Pacific during World War II, including in the Okinawa campaign, and on occupation duty in Japan postwar. She was decommissioned on 21 June 1946 and placed in reserve at Alameda, California.

Transferred to the United States Coast GuardEdit

Barnegat-class ships were very reliable and seaworthy and had good habitability, and the Coast Guard viewed them as ideal for ocean station duty, in which they would perform weather reporting and search and rescue tasks, once they were modified by having a balloon shelter added aft and having oceanographic equipment, an oceanographic winch, and a hydrographic winch installed.

The Navy loaned Bering Strait to the United States Coast Guard on 14 September 1948. After undergoing conversion for Coast Guard use, she was commissioned into the Coast Guard on 14 December 1948 as USCGC Bering Strait (WAVP-382).

U.S. Coast Guard serviceEdit

Pacific operations 1948-1967Edit

Bering Strait was stationed at Seattle, Washington, beginning on 14 December 1948. Her primary duty during her Coast Guard service was to serve on ocean stations in the Pacific Ocean to gather meteorological data. While on duty in one of these stations, she was required to patrol a 210-square-mile (544-square-kilometer) area for three weeks at a time, leaving the area only when physically relieved by another Coast Guard cutter or in the case of a dire emergency. While on station, she acted as an aircraft check point at the point of no return, a relay point for messages from ships and aircraft, as a source of the latest weather information for passing aircraft, as a floating oceanographic laboratory, and as a search-and-rescue ship for downed aircraft and vessels in distress, and engaged in law enforcement operations. During her Coast Guard career she also visited places as diverse as Adak, Alaska; Yokosuka, Japan; the French Frigate Shoals, and Laysan Island.

In 1954 she was transferred to Honolulu, Hawaii, which remained her home port for the rest of her Coast Guard career, and continued her ocean station duties in the Pacific from there.

In January 1956, Bering Strait evacuated an injured seaman in need of medical assistance from the merchant ship Madaket.

On 13 February 1960, used one ton of concrete patch material that had been air-dropped to her to assist the Japanese training ship Toyama Maru in making emergency repairs off Palmyra Island.

Bering Strait conducted oceanographic experiments on Ocean Station Victor in December 1964 and January 1965. On 13 January 1965, she relieved Coast Guard cutter USCGC Matagorda (WAVP-373), which had been damaged while standing by the disabled Liberian merchant ship Saint Helena, which was in danger of breaking in two 1,000 nautical miles (1,900 km) northwest of Midway Atoll, and herself stood by Saint Helena until a commercial tug arrived to assist the merchant ship.

Bering Strait was reclassified as a high endurance cutter and redesignated WHEC-382 on 1 May 1966. She again conducted oceanographic experiments at Ocean Station Victor from 19 June 1966 to 10 July 1966. Her loan period from the Navy came to an end on 26 September 1966, when she was transferred permanently from the Navy to the Coast Guard.

Vietnam War service 1967-1968Edit

USCGC Bering Strait (WHEC-382) in Vietnam War

USCGC Bering Strait during her Vietnam War service.

In 1967, Bering Strait was assigned to Coast Guard Squadron Three, which was designated Task Unit 70.8.6. The squadron was activated at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 24 April 1967 when its commander, Captain John E. Day, hoisted his pennant aboard his flagship, Coast Guard cutter USCGC Gresham (WHEC-387).

Coast Guard Squadron Three was tasked to operate in conjunction with U.S. Navy forces in Operation Market Time, the interdiction of communist coastal arms and munitions traffic along the coastline of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The squadron's other Vietnam War duties included fire support for ground forces, resupplying Coast Guard and Navy patrol boats, and search-and-rescue operations. Serving in the squadron with Gresham and Bering Strait were cutters USCGC Yakutat (WHEC-382), USCGC Barataria (WHEC-381), and USCGC Half Moon (WHEC-378); like Bering Strait and Gresham, they all were former Navy Barnegat-class ships. They departed Pearl Harbor on 26 April 1967 and reported to Commander, United States Seventh Fleet, for Market Time duty on 4 May 1967. They were joined by Navy radar picket destroyer escorts (DERs) of Escort Squadrons 5 and 7. The ten Market Time ships arrived at Subic Bay in the Philippines on 10 May 1967. The five Coast Guard cutters and five Navy destroyer escorts continuously manned four Market Time stations off Vietnam, while only Navy warships served on two Taiwan patrol stations. One ship rotated duty as the station ship in Hong Kong. Bering Strait remained in the Western Pacific until 18 February 1968, then returned to the United States.

Pacific operations 1968-1970Edit

Bering Strait returned to her conventional Coast Guard duties in 1968, still operating from Honolulu. From 24 February 1970 to 1 March 1970 she fought fire on the Panamanian merchant ship Grand Ocean in the mid-Pacific.

Vietnam War service 1970Edit

Bering Strait returned to Coast Guard Squadron Three for service in the Vietnam War on 17 May 1970. Her second Vietnam tour of duty ended on 31 December 1970.

DecommissioningEdit

The Coast Guard decommissioned Bering Strait in South Vietnam on 1 January 1971, the day after her second Vietnam War tour ended.

Foreign serviceEdit

South Vietnamese serviceEdit

Bering Strait was transferred to South Vietnam on 1 January 1971 and commissioned into the Republic of Vietnam Navy as patrol vessel RVNS Tran Quang Khai (HQ-02). When South Vietnam collapsed at the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975, Tran Quang Khai fled to Subic Bay in the Philippines.

On 22 May 1975 and 23 May 1975, a U.S. Coast Guard team inspected Tran Quang Khai and several other former Casco-class cutters which had been transferred to South Vietnam in 1971 and 1972 and, like Tran Quang Khai, fled to the Philippines in April 1975. One of the inspectors noted: "These vessels brought in several hundred refugees and are generally rat-infested. They are in a filthy, deplorable condition. Below decks generally would compare with a garbage scow."[2]

After Tran Quang Khai was cleaned, repaired, and made ready to return to service, the U.S. Navy transferred her to the Republic of the Philippines, with the formal transfer occurring on 5 April 1976.

Philippine Navy serviceEdit

Commissioned into the Philippine Navy, she served as patrol vessel BRP Diego Silang (PF-9) until decommissioned in June 1985. She was discarded in July 1990 and probably scrapped.

NotesEdit

  1. Per the U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office (see http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/BeringStrait1948.asp), although NavSource.org (see http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/43/4334.htm) claims the Coast Guard decommissioned Bering Strait in February 1970.
  2. This quote, from the U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office at http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/McCulloch_1946.pdf, is unattributed.

ReferencesEdit

See alsoEdit

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