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USCGC McCulloch (WAVP-386)
USCGC McCulloch (WAVP-386) 2
USCGC McCulloch (WAVP-386, later WHEC-386) on 25 September 1965
Career (United States) Ensign of the United States Coast Guard.svg
Name: USCGC McCulloch
Namesake: Hugh McCulloch (1808-1895), United States Secretary of the Treasury (1865-1869, 1884-1885)
Builder: Lake Washington Shipyard, Houghton, Washington
Laid down: 1 February 1943
Launched: 10 July 1943
Completed: May 1944
Acquired: By transfer from United States Navy 27 May 1946
Commissioned: 25 November 1946
Decommissioned: 21 June 1972
Reclassified: High endurance cutter, WHEC-386, 1 May 1966
Honors and
Unit Commendation April 1966
Fate: Transferred to U.S. Navy 21 June 1972
Transferred to South Vietnam 21 June 1972
Taken over by Republic of the Philippines April 1975
Sold to Philippines 5 April 1976
Commissioned by Philippines 7 February 1977
Decommissioned by Philippines May 1985[1] or April 1990[2] and probably scrapped
Notes: Served as United States Navy motor torpedo boat tender USS Wachapreague (AGP-8) 1944-1946
Served as South Vietnamese patrol vessel RVNS Ngo Quyen (HQ-17) 1972-1975
Served as Philippine Navy patrol vessel BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-8) 1977 until 1985[3] or 1990[4]
General characteristics
Class & type: Casco-class cutter
Displacement: 2,470.3 tons (full load) in 1966
Length: 310 ft 0.25 in (94.4944 m) overall; 300 ft 0 in (91.44 m) between perpendiculars
Beam: 41 ft 0 in (12.50 m) maximum
Draft: 12 ft 5 in (3.78 m) at full load in 1966
Installed power: 6,400 bhp (4,800 kW)
Propulsion: Fairbanks-Morse geared diesel engines, two shafts; 166,430 US gallons (630,000 L) of fuel
Speed: 17.6 knots (32.6 km/h) (maximum sustained in 1966)
11.7 knots (21.7 km/h) (economic in 1966)
Range: 9,700 nautical miles (18,000 km) at 17.6 kn (32.6 km/h) in 1966
16,000 nautical miles (30,000 km) at 11.7 kn (21.7 km/h) in 1966
Complement: 151 (10 officers, 3 warrant officers, 138 enlisted personnel) in 1966
Sensors and
processing systems:
Radars in 1966: SPS-23, SPS-29D
Sonar in 1966: SQS-1
Armament: In 1966: 1 x single 5-inch (130 mm) 38-caliber Mark 30-65 gun mount, 1 x Mark 52-3 director, 1 x Mark 26-01 fire-control radar, 2 x .50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns
1 x Mark 4 Mod 0 Hedgehog antisubmarine projector
1 x Mark 11 Mod 0 antisubmarine projector, 2 x Mark 32 Mod 5 torpedo launchers with three torpedo tubes each

USCGC McCullough (WAVP-386), later WHEC-386, was a Casco-class United States Coast Guard Cutter in service from 1946 to 1972. She was the fourth ship of the United States Revenue Cutter Service or United States Coast Guard to bear the name.

Construction and U.S. Navy serviceEdit

McCulloch began life as the United States Navy motor torpedo boat tender USS Wachapreague (AGP-8). She was laid down on 1 February 1943 by Lake Washington Shipyard at Houghton, Washington, as the Barnegat-class seaplane tender USS Wachapreague (AVP-56), but selected for conversion to a motor torpedo boat tender on 2 February 1943. She was launched on 10 July 1943 and commissioned into the U.S. Navy on 17 May 1944. During World War II she served in the New Guinea campaign, the Philippines campaign, and the campaign in Borneo, and performed postwar service in Borneo. She was decommissioned on 10 May 1946 at Boston, Massachusetts.

Transferred to the United States Coast GuardEdit

Barnegat-class ships were very reliable and seaworthy and had good habitability, and the United States 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 transferred Wachapreague to the Coast Guard on 27 May 1946 and struck her from the Navy List on 5 June 1946. After she underwent conversion for service as a weather reporting ship, the Coast Guard commissioned her as USCGC McCulloch (WAVP-386) on 25 November 1946.

U.S. Coast Guard serviceEdit

North Atlantic service 1946-1972Edit

McCulloch's first home port was Boston, Massachusetts, where she would remain stationed until July 1966. Her primary duty was to serve on ocean stations in the Atlantic 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.

While McCullough was patrolling Ocean Station Bravo off the coast of Labrador, Canada, in January 1959, raging winter seas cracked her main decks and swept one crewman overboard. In spite of that harrowing experience, she managed to reach Naval Station Argentia in Newfoundland, Canada, without further mishap.

During October and November 1965, McCulloch was assigned to patrol the Florida Strait and rescue Cuban refugees during the Cuban Exodus, in which thousands of Cubans chanced the rough, hazardous 90-nautical-mile (170 km) passage from Camarioca, Cuba, to Key West, Florida, many in overcrowded and unseaworthy craft handled by totally inexperienced persons. During this patrol, McCulloch was under the command of Commander Frank Barnett, USCG, who was in tactical command of 12 Coast Guard cutters and four airplanes assigned to the Cuban Patrol. In early November 1965, McCullough rescued 280 Cuban refugees from small craft in the Florida Strait and carried them to Key West. The crew was cited for outstanding service during this patrol and, on 22 April 1966, McCulloch was awarded a Unit Commendation for her Florida Strait patrol, with ceremonies held at Boston, entitling her crew of 144 to wear the Unit Commendation Bar.

On 1 May 1966, McCulloch was reclassified as a high endurance cutter and redesignated WHEC-386. In July 1966, she was stationed in Wilmington, North Carolina, which would remain her home port until 21 June 1972. Just as during her years at Boston, she spent her years at Wilmington in ocean station, law-enforcement, and search-and-rescue operations.

On 17 June 1970, McCulloch helped fight a fire aboard the merchant ship Tsui Yung in Wilmington.

Dcommissioning and transfer to South VietnamEdit

In April 1972, McCulloch and two of her sister ships, Coast Guard cutters USCGC Absecon (WHEC-374) and USCGC Chincoteague (WHEC-375), were deployed as Coast Guard Squadron Two, with crews composed mainly of members of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. They were originally scheduled to sail to Subic Bay in the Philippine Islands, but were diverted to the U.S. Navy base at Apra Harbor, Guam. Eventually the three cutters were decommissioned, transferred to the U.S. Navy, and then transferred to South Vietnam, all three of these events happening for McCulloch on 21 June 1972.

Foreign serviceEdit

Republic of Vietnam Navy serviceEdit

In South Vietnam, McCulloch was commissioned into the Republic of Vietnam Navy as patrol vessel RVNS Ngo Quyen (HQ-17). When South Vietnam collapsed at the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975, Ngo Quyen fled to the Philippines. On 22 May 1975 and 23 May 1975, a U.S. Coast Guard team inspected Ngo Quyen and several other former Casco-class cutters which had been transferred to South Vietnam in 1971 and 1972 and, like Ngo Quyen, 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."[5]

Philippine Navy serviceEdit

After Ngo Quyen was cleaned, repaired, and made ready to return to service, the U.S. Navy transferred her to the Republic of the Philippines on 5 April 1976. The Philippine Navy commissioned her as the patrol vessel BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-8) on 7 February 1977. She served until either May 1985[6] or April 1990,[7] when she was decommissioned and probably scrapped.


  1. Per at
  2. Per United States Coast Guard Historian's Office at
  3. Per at
  4. Per United States Coast Guard Historian's Office at
  5. This quote, from the U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office at, is unattributed.
  6. Per at
  7. Per United States Coast Guard Historian's Office at


See alsoEdit

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