The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

chill currents

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gaze in terror at the ice breaking tug Morro Bay, stalwart arm of the United States Coast Guard, as it maneuvers about the Hudson River. In terror that is, if you mean harm to the mariners or coastlines of the United States. It is maritime Sunday at the Newtown Pentacle once more, and this time around it’s a Coast Guard vessel in the spotlight.




The USCGC MORRO BAY was commissioned 28 March 1981 at the Reserve Training Center in Yorktown, VA and served here until 1998. The MORRO BAY was the sixth of her kind in the Coast Guard. While stationed at Training Center, the MORRO BAY was involved in training and operations on the Chesapeake Bay. The MORRO BAY is currently home ported in New London, CT.

Ship’s History

The 140-foot Bay-class Cutters are state of the art icebreakers used primarily for domestic ice breaking duties. They are named after American Bays and are stationed mainly in Northeast U.S. and Great Lakes. Although specifically desinged for ice breaking duties, they also perform law enforcement, environmental protection, search & rescue operations and support for aids to navigation activities.

WTGBs use a low-pressure-air hull lubrication or bubbler system that forces air and water between the hull and ice. This system improves icebreaking capabilities by reducing resistance against the hull, reducing horsepower requirements.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While researching this post, an interesting factoid about the Coast Guard emerged: the hull colors of Coast Guard vessels indicate their missions. Black hull- aids to navigation, White hull- maritime law enforcement and other safety-at-sea missions, Red hull- icebreaking.

Who knew?

Of course, the “Response Boat Medium” and “Response Boat Small”– both “SafeBoats“- are orange hulled, but the color scheme indications I found at the Coast Guard website do not discuss this hue.


The 140-foot Bay-class Cutters are state of the art icebreakers used primarily for domestic ice breaking duties. They are named after American Bays and are stationed mainly in Northeast U.S. and Great Lakes.

140-foot WTGBs in Service:

  • BISCAYNE BAY (WTGB 104) St. Ignace, MI
  • BRISTOL BAY* (WTGB 102) Detroit, MI
  • KATMAI BAY (WTGB 101) Sault Ste. Marie, MI
  • MOBILE BAY* (WTGB 103) Sturgeon Bay, WI
  • NEAH BAY (WTGB 105) Cleveland, OH
  • MORRO BAY (WTGB 106) New London, CT
  • PENOBSCOT BAY (WTGB 107) Bayonne, NJ
  • STURGEON BAY (WTGB 109) Bayonne, NJ
  • THUNDER BAY (WTGB 108) Rockland, ME

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Morro Bay, like all members of its class, looks smart and sound. An attractive boat, it nevertheless looks pretty fast and capable. These shots were taken at the Metropolitan Water Alliance’s “Heroes of the Harbor” gala last fall, where Morro Bay was performing the sort of political or parade duty which occupies its time during warm weather. During the cold months, it’s tasked with weightier matters, as a front line warrior battling the winter, and as a life line for stranded mariners.

Greetings to the crew, a hearty thanks is offered for their service, sacrifice, and skill. Stay safe, and hopefully we’ll see you in the City again when it warms up.

from wikipedia

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the US military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission (with jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters) and a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its mission set. It operates under the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, and can be transferred to the Department of the Navy by the President at any time, or by Congress during time of war.

Founded by Alexander Hamilton as the Revenue Cutter Service on 4 August 1790, it is the United States’ oldest continuous seagoing service. As of August 2009 the Coast Guard had approximately 42,000 men and women on active duty, 7,500 reservists, 30,000 auxiliarists, and 7,700 full-time civilian employees.

4 Responses

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  1. AKA . knee deep Navy ( .lovingly )

    Michael Lagana

    March 11, 2012 at 7:10 pm

  2. […] from a posting on one of Sturgeon Bay’s sister ships, the Morro Bay (featured in the posting chill currents), you can determine the mission of USCG ships just by looking at […]

  3. […] USCG WTGB 106 Morro Bay is pictured above, at night on the Hudson River, picking up crew members and dropping off dignitaries at a political event sponsored by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. There are always Coast Guard personnel at work somewhere on the harbor, 24 hours a day, protecting our well cushioned posterior from whatever trouble might float in on the tide. […]

  4. […] chill currents […]

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