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USCGC Icarus (WPC-110)
USCGC Icarus (WPC-110).jpg
Icarus arrives at Charleston Navy Yard on May 10, 1942 to deliver prisoners from U-352.
Name: USCGC Icarus (WPC-110)
Builder: Bath Iron Works hull 153
Launched: March 19, 1932
Acquired: March 29, 1932
Commissioned: April 1, 1932
Decommissioned: 1947 or 1948
Fate: Sold in 1948; later in service in the Dominican Republic Navy
General characteristics
Class & type: Thetis-class patrol boat

334 long ton (339 tonne) trial[1]

1945: 350 tons
Length: 160 ft 9 in (49.00 m) waterline[1]
165 ft (50.3 m) overall[1]
Beam: 23 ft 9 in (7.24 m)[1]

7 ft 8 in (2.34 m) trial[1]

1945: 10 ft (3 m)
Propulsion: 2 × Winton Model 158 6-cylinder diesel engines, 670 hp (500 kW) each
two shafts with 3-bladed screws
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h)[1]
Range: 3,000 nautical miles (6,000 km) at 11 knots (20 km/h)

45 officers and men[1]

1945: 75 officers and men[1]
Sensors and
processing systems:

1933: none

1945: SF-1 radar and QCO sonar



  • 2 × 3-inch / 50 cal guns
  • 2 × 20 mm guns
  • 2 × K-guns
  • 2 × depth charge tracks
  • 2 × Mousetrap anti-submarine rockets

USCGC Icarus (WPC-110) was a steel-hulled, diesel-powered Thetis-class patrol boat of the United States Coast Guard that patrolled the Eastern coast during World War II. In 1942, Icarus sank the U-boat U-352 off the coast of North Carolina and took its survivors into custody as prisoners of war. U-352 was the second World War II U-boat sunk by the United States in American waters, and the first one from which survivors were taken.[2][3]

Built by Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine, Icarus was delivered on March 29, 1932 and commissioned on April 1, 1932. After a shakedown cruise, she reported to the New York Division's Special Patrol Force, where she supported the Coast Guard's efforts against rum-runners until Prohibition ended in 1933, continuing after that to perform general law enforcement duties and rescue patrols. In November 1941, with World War II nearly two years underway, the Coast Guard was transferred from the U.S. Treasury Department to the U.S. Navy.

Germany declared war on the U.S. on December 11, 1941, and Icarus was rearmed and assigned to the Eastern Sea Frontier for patrol duty off the East Coast. German U-boats quickly became a serious threat on the East Coast, sinking approximately 80 ships between January and April 1942, with U.S. defenses only managing to sink one U-boat (U-85) during that period.[4]

U-352 incident[edit | edit source]

While in Torpedo Alley, off the coast of Cape Lookout en route to Key West on May 9, 1942, Icarus picked up a contact on sonar, and a torpedo exploded nearby. Icarus anticipated the presumed U-boat's next move and dropped 5 depth charges at the site of the prior torpedo explosion. As sonar picked up a moving target again, Icarus moved to intercept, dropping two more depth charges, apparently hitting their target as bubbles were seen rising to the surface. Passing the spot again, Icarus dropped three more charges. Shortly thereafter, U-352 surfaced, and Icarus opened fire with machine guns and prepared for a ramming maneuver. When the U-boat's crew abandoned ship, Icarus ceased fire, releasing one last depth charge over U-352 as it sank beneath the water.

The only U-boat previously sunk on the East Coast had gone down with all hands, and there were no standing orders concerning the rescue of survivors. Icarus had to call both Norfolk and Charleston before receiving authorization to pick up U-352's survivors. Forty minutes after the incident, Icarus picked up 33 of its crew, including U-352's commander, Kapitänleutnant Hellmut Rathke, and delivered them to the Commandant of the 6th Naval District at Charleston Navy Yard the next day.

For his actions in sinking U-352, Lieutenant Maurice D. Jester, commander of the Icarus, was awarded the Navy Cross.[5] There were only six Coast Guard recipients of the Navy Cross during World War II.[6]

Later service[edit | edit source]

Rearmed at Norfolk Navy Yard, Icarus resumed her duties as a convoy escort, anti-submarine patroller and search and rescue ship. She was transferred to the 3rd Naval District for duty with the Air-Sea Rescue Service in 1945. On October 18, 1946 she was placed on reserve status at Stapleton, Staten Island. Icarus was decommissioned on March 15, 1948 and sold on July 1, 1948 to the Southeastern Terminal and Steamship Company. She was later transferred to the Navy of the Dominican Republic where she was renamed Independencia (P-105, later P-204). She saw combat in the Dominican Civil War in 1965, was rebuilt in 1975, and was later sent to reserve. Independencia was still listed by Jane's Fighting Ships as part of the Dominican Navy as late as 1995, but had been dropped from the list by the 1999 release.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 *Gardiner, Robert (Ed.) (1980). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1922–1946. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 166. ISBN 0-85177-146-7. LCCN 81103282. Library of Congress Classification V765.C66. 
  2. U-85 was the first World War II U-boat sunk by U.S. coastal defenses; there were no survivors.
  3. "U.S. Coast Guard Combat Victories of World War II". United States Coast Guard. http://www.uscg.mil/history/uscghist/CombatVictoriesWWII.asp. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  4. Conn, Stetson; Engelman, Rose C.; Fairchild, Byron. "Chapter IV: The Continental Defense Commands After Pearl Harbor". Guarding the United States and its Outposts. http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/Guard-US/ch4.htm#b1. 
  5. DAVID AND GOLIATH: The ICARUS And THETIS Battle German U-boats, U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office, Accessed August 16, 2007.
  6. US Coast Guard Recipients of the Naval Cross, Pueblo Medal of Honor Foundation, Accessed August 16, 2007.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Icarus, 1932 (PDF), U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office, Accessed August 6, 2013.
  • Conn, Stetson et al. [1964] (2002). Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, Seattle: University Press of the Pacific. ISBN 1-4102-0192-9

External links[edit | edit source]

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