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USCGC Unimak (WAVP-379)
USCGC Unimak (WHEC-379)
USCGC Unimak (WHEC-379, ex-WAVP-379, ex-WTR-379, on 8 June 1987
Career (USCG) Ensign of the United States Coast Guard.svg
Name: USCGC Unimak
Namesake: Unimak Bay on the coast of Unimak Island in Alaska (previous name retained)
Builder: Associated Shipbuilders, Inc., Seattle, Washington
Laid down: 15 February 1942
Launched: 27 May 1942
Completed: December 1943
Acquired: Lent by United States Navy to U.S. Coast Guard 14 September 1948
Permanently transferred from Navy to Coast Guard 26 September 1966
Commissioned: 3 January 1949
Decommissioned: 31 May 1975
Recommissioned: 22 August 1977
Decommissioned: 29 April 1988
Reclassified: High endurance cutter, WHEC-379, 1 May 1966
Training ship, WTR-379, 28 November 1969
High endurance cutter, WHEC-379, 22 August 1977
Fate: Transferred to U.S. Navy 1988
Scuttled to form artificial reef
General characteristics
Class & type: Casco-class cutter
Displacement: 2,498 long tons (2,538 t) full load in 1966
Length: 311 ft 7¾ in (95.0 m) overall; 300 ft 0 in (91.4 m) between perpendiculars
Beam: 41 ft (12.5 m) maximum
Draft: 12 ft 7 in (3.8 m) full load, aft, maximum, in 1966
Installed power: 6,080 bhp (4,530 kW)
Propulsion: Four Fairbanks-Morse 10-cylinder direct-reversing diesel engines in two engine rooms; two shafts
Speed: 17.3 knots (32 km/h) sustained maximum in 1966>br/> 10.0 knots (19 km/h) economic in 1966
Range: 10,300 nautical miles (19,100 km) at 17.3 knots (32.0 km/h) (19,076 kilometers at 32 km/h) in 1966
20,800 nmi at 10.0 knots (18.5 km/h) (38,522 km at 19 km/h) in 1966
Capacity: 166,430 US gallons (630,000 L) (630.0 kiloliters) diesel fuel
Complement: 89 (10 officers, 2 warrant officers, 77 enlisted personnel) in 1966
Sensors and
processing systems:
Radar: SPS-23
Sonar: SQS-1
Armament: • 1 × 5"/38 gun (replaced in 1972 with 5"/54)
• 6 × .50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns
• 2 × 90 mm mortars on 01 deck forward of the bridge

USCGC Unimak (WAVP-379), later WHEC-379, WTR-379, and again WHEC-379, was a United States Coast Guard Casco-class cutter in commission from 1949 to 1975 and from 1977 to 1988. Her radio callsign was NBVG.

Construction and U.S. Navy serviceEdit

Unimak began life as the United States Navy Barnegat-class small seaplane tender USS Unimak (AVP-31). She was laid down on 15 February 1942 at Seattle, Washington, by Associated Shipbuilders, Inc., launched on 27 May 1942, and commissioned on 31 December 1943. She served in Central America, the Galapagos Islands and the North Atlantic during World War II and in Hawaii, the Aleutian Islands and the North Pacific postwar. She was decommissioned on 26 July 1946 and placed in reserve.

Transferred to the U.S. 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 Unimak 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 3 January 1949 as USCGC Unimak (WAVP-379).

Coast Guard serviceEdit

First period in commission 1949-1975Edit

Unimak was homeported in Boston, Massachusetts, from 3 January 1949 to 1 September 1956. Her primary duty during her Coast Guard service was to serve on ocean stations 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.

In June 1956, Unimak patrolled the Newport, Rhode Island-to-Bermuda race.

Unimak was stationed at Cape May, New Jersey, from 1 September 1956 to 7 August 1972 and used primarily for training United States Coast Guard Reserve personnel, including training cruises to Brazil and Nova Scotia. She took part in the United States Coast Guard Academy cadet cruise of August 1965.

Unimak was reclassified as a high endurance cutter and redesignated WHEC-379 on 1 May 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.

On 7 March 1967 she rescued six Cuban refugees in the Yucatan Channel. On 10 March 1967 she rescued survivors from the fishing vessel Bunkie III in Florida waters. On 15 March 1967, she rescued 12 Cuban refugees who were stranded on an island. On 29 May 1969, she towed the fishing vessel Sirocco—which was disabled 35 nautical miles (65 km) east of Fort Pierce, Florida—to safety.

Unimak was reclassified as a training ship and again redesignated, this time as WTR-379, on 28 November 1969.

On 3 April 1970, she stood by the grounded merchant ship Vassiliki near Mayaguana Island until a commercial tug arrived to assist Vassiliki. From 7 August 1972 to 31 May 1975, Unimak was stationed at Yorktown, Virginia, and was again used to train Coast Guard reservists.

Unimak was decommissioned on 31 May 1975 placed in storage at Curtis Bay, Maryland.

Second period in commission 1977-1988Edit

On 22 August 1977, Unimak was reactivated, again redesignated WHEC-379. She was home-ported at New Bedford, Massachusetts, for the rest of her Coast Guard career. During this stint in commission, she was used primarily for fisheries patrol. Unimak also interdicted the trafficking of illegal drugs. On 6 October 1980, she seized the merchant ship Janeth 340 nautical miles (630 km) southeast of Miami, Florida, carrying 500 bales of marijuana. On 14 October 1980, she seized the pleasure craft Rescue carrying approximately 500 bales of marijuana and the pleasure craft Snail with two tons of marijuana on board in the Gulf of Mexico. On 17 October 1980, she seized the merchant vessel Amalaka southwest of Key West, Florida, carrying 1,000 bales of marijuana. On 19 October 1980, she seized the fishing vessel Wright's Pride southwest of Key West, carrying 30 tons of marijuana. In March 1981, while on an Officer Candidate School training cruise, she intercepted the merchant ship Mayo with 40 tons of marijuana on board.

On 9 December 1982, Unimak towed the disabled fishing vessel Sacred Heart away from Daid Banks, 45 nautical miles (83 km) east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 30-foot (9.1 m) seas. Between 28 January 1983 and 9 March 1983, Unimak again deployed to the Caribbean for a law-enforcement patrol. On 27 February 1983 and 28 February 1983, she towed the dismasted sailing vessel Wandering Star to Mathew Town, Great Iguana. On 3 March 1983, she towed the disabled merchant vessel Yadrina to Mathew Town.

On 30 November 1984, Unimak seized the sailboat Lola 100 nautical miles (190 km) north of Barranquilla, Colombia, carrying 1.5 tons of marijuana. Another drug seizure occurred on 2 November 1985, when Unimak seized tugboat Zeus 3 and a barge 200 nautical miles (370 km) south of the Dominican Republic carrying 40 tons of marijuana.

Decommissioning and disposalEdit

The Coast Guard decommissioned Unimak on 29 April 1988 and transferred her to the U.S. Navy. She was then sunk as an artificial reef off the Virginia coast.

ReferencesEdit

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