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USCGC North Star
General description, specifications and time line
USCGC North Star, June 1941
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(The star of the northern hemisphere toward which the axis of the earth very nearly points, and which accordingly seems almost stationary in the sky.)
Type and Characteristics - Wooden Arctic supply ship converted to Cutter WPG-59, Built by Ballard’s Berg Shipyard, Seattle, Commissioned: 1932, U.S. Department of Interior; 14 May 1941, U.S. Coast Guard; Displacement: 2,200 tons; Length 225', beam 42.5', draft 16.5' full; Engine 1 screw McIntosh Seymour diesel; Aircraft: 1 x Grumman J2F "Duck"; Armament: 1942: 2 x 3"/50 single mounts; 6x 20mm/80 (single); 4 depth charge tracks, Electronics: Detection Radar: SK; Complement: 123.
Log Period and Areas of Service - 1942-1943, Greenland Patrol.
Summary of Service
May 1932 - Commissioned as U.S.M.S. (U.S. Motor Ship) North Star by the Department of the Interior for use by its Bureau of Indian Affairs, and sent on the first of her annual summer voyages in Alaskan waters. She had a 9000 cubic foot refrigerated hold aft, of which 3000 cu.ft. were a freeze box for as many as 1,300 reindeer carcasses, and a 10,000 cu.ft. hold forward. She spent every summer in Alaskan waters supplying the various tribes through 1939, wintering in Seattle.
November 1939 - She was loaned to Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd to participate in his third expedition to Antarctica with Bear of Oakland (see USCGC Bear) until April 1940.
Summer 1940 - She sailed for her usual supply duties in Alaska.
December 1940 – She departed Seattle for a second voyage to Antarctica, during which the stations established in the earlier expedition were closed down because of the war, and was then ordered to the North Atlantic for patrol duties. Her predecessor USMS Boxer was reactivated to carry out Alaska supply duties during the emergency.
15 May 41 - At Boston, Mass, she was transferred from the Interior Department to the Coast Guard and commissioned Coast Guard Cutter North Star (WPG-59).
1 July 1941 - She became part of the Greenland Patrol. The assignment of the Greenland Patrol consisted of "a little bit of everything—the Coast Guard is used to that." Thus ice was broken and leads were found through it for the Greenland convoys; ships were escorted; survivors of submarine attacks were rescued; aids to navigation were constructed and maintained; weather and ice conditions were reported; and air and surface patrols were maintained. Additionally, the patrol craft were directed to seek out and destroy Nazi weather and radio stations, to conduct regional oceanographic surveys, to maintain communications, to supply settlements, and to perform rescue missions.
12 September 1941 - She assisted in the assistance she rendered in the seizure of the Norwegian trawler Buskoe, which was controlled by German interests for the purpose of servicing Nazi radio and weather stations in Greenland. She remained with the patrol and was especially useful in providing services and supplies to east Greenland stations in 1942.
23 July 1943 - She was attacked by a Nazi reconnaissance plane north of Jan Mayen Island; the plane withdrew from the engagement trailing heavy black smoke.
15 December 1943 - The classification of North Star was changed to IX-148. She was officially transferred from the Coast Guard to the Navy, assigned to the First Naval District at Boston 13 January 1944, and placed in reduced commission.
3 May 1944-– She was assigned to the Fourth Naval District, departing Boston to assume new duties in connection with the care and preservation of inactive vessels at Philadelphia.
February 1945 - She returned to the Thirteenth Naval District and was sent back to Seattle, pending return to the Department of the Interior.
15 June 1945 - North Star was repaired and decommissioned and turned over to the Department of the Interior.
11 July 1945 - She was struck from the Navy List. She returned to her Alaskan supply duties, where she was quickly found to be too small and old for postwar Alaska resupply service.
1949 - She was retired and replaced by a refrigerated C1-M-AV1 small cargo ship, Coastal Rider, which was renamed North Star II.
Fate – Retired in 1949, she was sold in 1951 and operated out of Tacoma, WA, as the fishing vessel North Star. Then she was sold in 1968 to Captain Edward Colberg of Long Beach, Calif., for service as a freighter in Mexican coastal waters and was transferred to Mexican registry.
A general note on the sources.