Remembering Life Aboard Coast Guard Icebreakers
"This morning I watched the retired Coast Guard icebreaker Glacier cast off on what is likely to be its final voyage," KQED's Craig Miller wrote in a Climate Watch post on May 7.
I served aboard 2 U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers, The Edisto and the Southwind. They traveled to both the Arctic and the Antarctic. Very tough boats, but due to their hull design, they would roll and pitch wildly in moderate seas. But they would cruise through pack ice several feet thick with no effort. I used to stand at the bow and look down at ice being cracked apart. Unforgettable experience.
I was the Electronics/Communications division officer for DF-81 and navigator for DF-82. That was the best two years of sea duty I had in the CG. For those of you who don't remember (or don't know) GLACIER had 3 engine rooms (B1, B2 & B3). 10 diesel generators producing 25,000 SHP, and 4 generators for hotel services (such as it was). Nothing could beat controlling that monster from the aloft conning station. I'm sorry to see her go.
I was a FN working in the DC shop on Southwind as a member of the re-commissioning crew in 1966 when we got her back from the Navy. I probably have the only movies of the ship sailing into Boston Naval Shipyard and the Navy crew casting the lines on the dock. I am in the process of having the film copied to disc. I made two trips, Toolie Greenland and Palmer Antarctica. Glacier was there in Palmer when we ran aground and punched a Cadillac size hole in the bottom. It was good to have another Icebreaker there as there was no place to go if Southwind sank. Hope the museum plan works out, will take a lot of funding. Dave Hauser DCCM (retired)
Also a breaker sailor, Westwind and Southwind 66-68, for three trips as a junior engineering officer, great ships, never home but what the heck, a sailor is for sea duty or repairs for going to sea. Sad to see these ships becoming razor blades as they were wonderful platforms for research and extreme operations. Expensive to operate and took way too many men by modern standards, newer ones similar to the Polar Sea class operate with half the crew and the remaining one of them is under utilized as well. From a peak of TEN of these herky boats to one sometimes used is a shame.
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