The Newtown Pentacle

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In today’s Memorial Day post- The United States Coast Guard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s Memorial Day, once again, as the wheel of the year continues to spin. Everybody will be talking about Marines and Ocean going Sailors and Soldiers and Pilots today, but as usual- few will mention the United States Coast Guard. Accordingly, a few shots I’ve picked up of operations around New York Harbor. Pictured above is the USCG WTGB 107 Penobscot Bay.

From wikipedia

The USCG Bay-class icebreaking tug is a class of 140-foot (43 m) icebreaking tugs of the United States Coast Guard, with hull numbers WTGB 101 through to WTGB 109.

They can proceed through fresh water ice up to 20 inches (51 cm) thick, and break ice up to 3 feet (0.91 m) thick, through ramming. These vessels are equipped with a system to lubricate their progress through the ice, by bubbling air through the hull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The USCG maintains a small fleet of vessels with differing capability to fulfill their mission to protect and patrol the Harbor of New York and New Jersey. Pictured above is a “Response Boat Small” SAFE boat crew, carrying what would seem to be a 50mm machine gun and a variety of small arms, while on Staten Island Ferry escort duty.


Developed in a direct response to the need for additional Homeland Security assets in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Defender Class boats were procured under an emergency acquisition authority. With a contract for up to 700 standard response boats, the Defender Class acquisition is one of the largest boat buys of its type in the world. The 100 boat Defender A Class (RB-HS) fleet began arriving at units in MAY 2002 and continued through AUG 2003. After several configuration changes, most notably a longer cabin and shock mitigating rear seats, the Defender B Class (RB-S) boats were born. This fleet was first delivered to the field in OCT 2003, and there are currently 357 RB-S boats in operation.

The 457 Defender Class boats currently in operation are assigned to the Coast Guards Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST), Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT), Marine Safety Units (MSU), and Small Boat Stations throughout the Coast Guard. With an overall length of 25 feet, two 225 horsepower outboard engines, unique turning radius, and gun mounts boat forward and aft, the Defender Class boats are the ultimate waterborne assets for conducting fast and high speed maneuvering tactics in a small deployable package. This is evidenced in the fact that several Defender Class boats are already in operation by other Homeland Security Department agencies as well as foreign military services for their homeland security missions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

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.




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.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A “response boat medium” crashing through the waves with the coast of Brooklyn behind it. The smaller USCG vessels like this medium sized SAFE boat. They too are outfitted with a high caliber machine gun mounted on a deck stand, and you can be certain that they have other toys onboard which we civilians don’t need to know about. These vessels are said to carry a compliment of sensors and communications equipment designed to monitor and intercept illicit activity.

from wikipedia

The response boat-medium (RBM) is a 45-foot (13.7m) utility boat used by the United States Coast Guard. It is intended as a replacement for the Coast Guard’s fleet of 41′ utility boats (UTB), which have been in use by the Coast Guard since the 1970s. The Coast Guard plans to acquire 180 of these RB-Ms over a 6–10 year period. The boats will be built by Kvichak Marine Industries of Kent, Washington and Marinette Marine of Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One often observes these medium sized boats patrolling the industrial edges of New York Harbor, in the case of the shot above, its on the Kill Van Kull separating New Jersey and Staten Island. Incidentally, this is the same vessel seen in the former photo, although I didn’t realize it at the time.

from wikipedia

Founded by Alexander Hamilton as the Revenue Marine first, and later as the Revenue Cutter Service on 4 August 1790, it is the United States’ oldest continuous seagoing service. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton headed the USRCS, and the branch was involved in every war from 1790 to World War I. 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.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

USCG WTGB 109 Sturgeon Bay‘s Captain had to know that the ship was going to be photographed when posed so provocatively in front of the Statue of Liberty. The United States Coast Guard is nearly forgotten on this holiday signifying the sacrifice and service of United States military service men and women, the glory going to its larger and farther reaching colleagues.

from wikipedia

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday which occurs every year on the final Monday of May. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? June 2013 Walking Tours

The Poison Cauldron Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull– Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

One Response

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  1. Nice tribute to a quite often unsung branch of the military.

    georgetheatheist . . . noticing all

    May 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm

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