SNAFU IN CHICAGO
By Ron Reynolds
was July 1954 and the CGC ARUNDEL, a sea-going, 110 foot tug home ported
at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois got a new Captain. He was a W-1
“pinstriper” who had been a “sandpounder” for many years. Desperately in
need of experience, he ordered a practice cruise out on Lake Michigan. It was a
beautiful sunny summer day and we cruised around and about the lake uneventfully
for an hour or so before returning to port.
As we neared port the Skipper saw a group of Coast Guard Officers standing on the dock through his binoculars. They were the Northern Inspectors from Cleveland, Ohio! He panicked and nothing went right from that moment on. First, he bounced the ship off the dock. On the third try we managed to tie her up.
our new Captain went ashore to greet the unexpected visitors. Next, they put us
through the paces. They requested a message be sent by semaphore. The guys
didn’t know the alphabet well enough to send it properly. Next came seamanship
which we managed to struggle through at best.
final test was a lifeboat drill. We could not budge the davits with the assigned
crew. It took the most of our entire ten men crew to break them free from the
rusted sockets and swing them out and over the water. Next we prepared to lower
the boat. Our BM2 hit the pelican hooks and we began lowering. When the lifeboat
hit the water it promptly sank due to dry rot. I think I heard someone on shore
say something about “McHale’s Navy” but I am not sure.
final activity was to stand inspection. While the Inspectors “consulted”
with the Captain we all rushed to get into our dress whites. This part of the
Northern Inspection went quite well but our overall scores were quite bleak.
the ARUNDEL went on sailing the Great Lakes for several decades
thereafter, it was a rocky start, that experience with the Northern Inspectors
in July 1954.
CGC ARUNDEL AND CGC FREDRICK LEE IN NEW BEDFORD
– The ARUNDEL had been homeported in New Bedford, Massachusetts until
several months prior to this occurance. A homeport swap was made between the CGC
FREDRICK LEE (WSC-139) and the ARUNDEL. The FREDRICK LEE was a
125 footer (buck and a quarter) the same type of ship used in the First District
for SAR work, more suited to it then a 110 foot tug. The ARUNDEL could
break ice making her a year around ship on the Great Lakes. The exchange proved
TO COAST GUARD STORIES