PATROL FRIGATES

USS HOQUIAM (PF-5)

 

The Patrol Frigate (PF) is not much more than a footnote in Coast Guard history. They were built for convoy escort duty and there were a lot of them, 75 built for the Navy and 2 older ones on loan from Great Britain. They were not Coast Guard Cutters in the true sense of the meaning but U.S. Navy ships manned by Coast Guard crews. They were not built to Navy General Specifications. Similar in size and armament to a Destroyer Escort (DE). Main Propulsion was by triple expansion steam engines. There were a lot of alignment troubles during sea trials and shake downs which caused some delay in putting them into service. Towards the end of their brief life some were used on Pacific Weather Patrol Stations. So that they could be identified as such the superstructures were painted yellow. After WWII the need for convoys and most of the Pacific Weather Stations no longer existed and they were decommissioned. Twenty Five of them were given to Russia under a lend lease program. None sailed under a U.S. Flag for more than a couple of years. One of our members served on the PF-5 in Alaska and is sharing some of his experiences with us. Here it is in his own words. - Editor

1944 aboard the USS HOQUIAM (PF-5):

"We left Seattle for sea and assignment at sea several hundred miles out. The old man came on the P.A. and told us where we were heading, Base of Operations, Adak, Alaska!

We made patrols in the Bering Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. We would lay into Kodiak Island to pick up a convoy coming from good old USA and take them wherever. Every six weeks we would pull a week on the circle run, several times in the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean we would run into what the Aleut's called a "Willawaw" equal to a typhoon. Oh boy wasn't that fun!

I remember being on the wheel as a helmsman one time when we were hooked in a Willawaw. I felt like Popeye, my feet were in the air more than on the deck. The Chief Quartermaster was in the Wheelhouse logging the event, he logged a 43 degree roll. The OD, "Salty Sam," was on the flying bridge. He "poof poofed" down the tube; "Helmsman, what is your heading?" I gave him the heading, he screamed, "get back on course." I kinda laughed to myself and thought if he could keep this ship afloat we'll all be lucky.

My buddy, Harold Corley who lived in Conyers, Georgia (died two years ago) we would stop on our way to Florida and visit. One time when visiting, he and I were reminiscing, I asked if he remembered one of the Willawaw's we were in, I was on the wheel and the Chief Quartermaster logged a 65 foot swell with a 7 foot cap, a monster white beard? He said that wasn't the biggest, don't you remember the 100 footers we were in? I said "come on Corley, there is only the two of us, you don't have to stretch it." He said don't you remember when it tore the steam kettles out of the deck and all we had to eat was sandwiches and coffee until we got in and the stanchions in the sleeping compartments tore loose from the deck? I had forgot, he was right!

Our motto was "you'll never survive on the PF5." Here I am writing to you. She was a sturdy ship, you could count every rib in her from the pounding she took 1/4 inch skin and if she took water down the stack it never put the fires out. The black gang probably had something to do with that.

There were bets taken every storm as to when the motor whaleboat and the smoke generators would tear loose and float away. The whaleboat would hit the props and wind up in pieces. Oh well, all in a day's work!!!" - CES

Editors Note - According to an authoritative source, the Hoquiam was the second ship manned by the Coast Guard that had an integrated crew. This was not a common practice at the time in any military service but it proved in practice to be successful

 

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