One of the lesser credited services; the United States Coast Guard has a proud tradition of service to the United States, as well as an impressive history of accomplishments during wartime. During World War II, the Coast Guard was responsible for a number of victorious battles that many people do not know about, or have not been published very widely. The US Navy credits the Coast Guard with sinking one Japanese submarine, but in reality it is believed that they sank two Japanese Submarines. In addition the US Coast Guard participated in sinking of 13 of the German U Boats, the Coast Guard jokingly referred to Hitler’s U Boats derisively by the nickname Hearses.
Most Americans think of Greenland in a very non-descriptive manner, it’s that white “blob” on the top of the world maps. After all who knows much about Greenland, its people or its importance in world affairs? But in World War II Greenland was very important, both to the Allied Forces and also as a goal by the Axis powers. Greenland is a largely deserted island but it is huge by island standards, it has over 825 thousand square miles. Most of Greenland is above the Arctic Circle; it can be a forbidding place. During the War the USCG had patrol duty to defend Greenland from the Axis, to prevent them from gaining a place to build landing strips and airports close to America. The Coast Guard was the patrol force that kept Greenland from falling into enemy hands, but it was not just the German and Japanese Forces that were a problem, it was the weather itself. Greenland faces some of the most extreme weather present in the world, with temperatures such as –50 degrees below zero, and high winds, ice and other impediments.
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In early 1942 the USA began to establish a navigational aid called LORAN, or long distance range aids to navigation, and because of its geographic location Greenland was an important link in the chain required to make it work. It fell to the Coast Guard to protect and defend Greenland, and the new equipment on Greenland that made LORAN work.
In addition, late in WW II, one of the most successful Atlantic Patrol bombing units was staffed entirely by US Coast Guardsmen. In 1943 and 1944, Patrol Bombing Squadron 6 operated as a Navy Unit staffed by USCG personnel, and it earned a reputation as one of the busiest and most successful North Atlantic Patrol bombing Squadrons of the War.
S. Fauser says
What is the ship in the picture? Where is this picture taken? I am reading a book titled “Ice Brothers” which takes place on a Greenland Patrol Cutter. This photo appears to be one of them.
Doug B says
The ship is CGC MOHAWK, while it was kept as a memorial at Key West FL. Lack of funds for her support resulted in her being made a veterans memorial diving reef.