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How many Coast Guard cutters have been stationed in Wilmington?

The Coast Guard cutter “Seminole,” commissioned in 1900.

Q. How many Coast Guard cutters have been stationed in Wilmington? Are there any plans to add an additional ship alongside the USCG Diligence? I remember back in the 1960s or ’70s there were two stationed in Wilmington.

A. The Seminole was commissioned in September 1900 and was first stationed at Boston. She transferred to Thompkinsville, Staten Island, New York, in May 1904. She transferred again in July 1905, this time to Wilmington. She patrolled waters between Cape Hatteras and the St. John’s River with occasional other missions. She was transferred into U.S. Navy control following the U.S. entry into World War I. In 1917, she escorted two German ships from the Cape Fear River to Charleston. Following WWI, she returned to Wilmington and was transferred to Michigan in 1929. She was decommissioned in December 1934.

The Modoc was commissioned in 1922 and stationed in Wilmington, where she began ice patrol duties with the International Ice Patrol (the organization that began in 1913 as a result of the Titanic sinking). In 1941, she was transferred to the U.S. Navy and joined the Greenland Patrol. She witnessed a number of battles and skirmashes during WWII, and she received a battle star for her service in the War. She was decommissioned in 1947 and sold to a Honduran merchant. She was scrapped in 1964.

The Mendota was commissioned in June 1945. This class of ships are believed to have been built to replace vessels given as aid in the Lend-Lease Act. First stationed in Boston, the Mendota called Wilmington home from 1947 to 1972. She sailed for the waters of Vietnam in January 1969 and served as an operational base, among other duties. She returned to Wilmington 11 months later, in November 1969. After leaving Wilmington in 1972, she was decommissioned and sold for scrap.

The Northwind was commissioned in July 1945. From 1945 to 1973, she was stationed in Seattle. From 1978 to 1989, she was stationed in Wilmington and was used for ice-breaking purposes, much as during her stay in Seattle. She also assisted disabled ships and seized ships that were transporting narcotics. She was decommissioned in 1989 and sold for scrap.

The McCulloch was commissioned by the USCG in November 1946. She was originally stationed in Boston from 1946 to 1966. From July 1966 to June 1972, she was stationed in Wilmington. The ship was used for search and rescue, ocean station, and law enforcement, both in Boston and Wilmington. In June 1970, she helped fight a fire on the “Tsui Yung” in Wilmington. In 1975, she sailed for the Philippines but was rerouted to Guam, and the ship was transferred to the Government of South Vietnam after the condition of the ship was determined “deplorable.” She was transferred to the Government of the Philippines after a thorough cleaning. She was scrapped in 1990.

The “Diligence ships” have a long history in Wilmington.

The Diligence I, one of the first American cutters, was built in Wilmington in 1791. She obtained notoriety after seizing a French smuggler on the Cape Fear River. The original captain of the ship, Thomas Cooke, maintained a home on Fourth Street, near St. Mary’s Church, which is said to be haunted by Capt. Cooke.

The Diligence II, III, and IV, all built in the Wilmington area, were all decommissioned by 1830, when the line of Diligence ships were halted.

Diligence V, not stationed in Wilmington at any point in her career, was decommissioned in 1990.

Diligence VI, the current ship stationed in Wilmington, was commissioned in 1992. She patrols the East Coast of the U.S., engaging in law enforcement, search and rescue, and halting illegal immigration to the US.

It is worth noting that the Diligence VI is the only active Coast Guard Cutter named after one of the original 10 cutters that is stationed in an original home port.

MyReporter knows of no plans to station a second Coast Guard cutter in Wilmington.

EDITOR’S NOTE, MARCH 1, 2018: This answer originally omitted the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Pontchartrain, which saw service in Vietnam during the war there. It spent its last 18 months in Wilmington before being decommissioned on Oct. 19, 1973. Thanks to alert reader and USCG veteran John Kielbasa for bringing that to our attention.


Why do some Coast Guard cutters like the Diligence have white sides with the orange stripe, while others are orange or black?

Where does the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Diligence go when it is not docked in Wilmington?

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3 Responses to “ How many Coast Guard cutters have been stationed in Wilmington?”

  1. On October 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm J. Newsome wrote:

    The current Diligence (VI) was commissioned in 1964 and was temporarily decommissioned from 1990-92 for a significant modernization, but it’s the same ship, WMEC-616. Check out the ship’s history at this link: http://www.uscg.mil/lantarea/cgcdiligence/history.asp

    Diligence (V) was in service from 1919-1961 and was never stationed in Wilmington.

    Many thanks to the crew, who have to work hard to maintain and operate a ship that is nearly 50 years old!

  2. On October 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm Hans edwards wrote:

    I was curious of reading more about the Diligence line. There are some discrepancies betwwen your myreporter article and the Diligence history page.


  3. On November 1, 2012 at 9:24 am David wrote:

    Enjoy the comings and going of the current Cutter Diligence for as long as they can keep her going. She is not likely to be replaced at that location once she is decommissioned. The Diligence is the only major cutter on the Atlantic seaboard that doesn’t tie up in a protected base with modern force protection measures in place. That is impossible…the public can almost literally touch it as they walk along the Riverwalk.

    It is possible the Coast Guard might seek a berth down at the state port, but not at all a certainty. All this said, that is still a federal mooring and won’t be turned over to the City just because the cutter leaves…

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