(RC: dp. 1,181 (n.), Ibp. 190'- b. 32'6": dr. 14'1" (aft); s. 13 k.; cpl. 70; a. 3 6-psrs.; cl. Unalga)
Unalga-a Coast Guard cutter built by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.was launched on 10 February 1912, sponsored by Miss Elizabeth Hilles and commissioned by the Revenue Cutter Service (RCS) at its depot at Arundel Cove, Md., on 23 May 1912.
Unalga spent the summer of 1912 fitting out. In June, she received her guns at Washington, D.C., and completed installing them at Baltimore in July and August. On 6 September, she received orders to report to the Commander, Northern Division, Pacific Coast, RCS, at Port Townsend, Wash.
She departed Baltimore that day and, after stops at Newport News and Norfolk, she headed out into the Atlantic. She reached the Straits of Gibraltar on 11 October and, three days later, continued on toward Naples, Italy, where she arrived on the 19th. She got underway again on the 25th; stopped at Malta from 26 to 29 October; and arrived at Port Said, Egypt, the northern terminus of the Suez Canal, on 1 November.
While Unalga made her way from port to port eastward across the Mediterranean, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro took advantage of the ItaloTurkish War in Libya to form the Balkan League and descend upon the embattled Ottoman Empire. Greek and Serbian armies invaded European Turkey in an effort to liberate Ottoman possessions populated bY their kinspeople While the Greeks and Serbs moved into Macedonia, three Bulgarian armies drove headlong into Thrace, invested Adrianople, and defeated Turkish armies at the battles of Kirk Kilissa and Lule Burgas. The success of that drive alarmed the foreign community in Constantinople lest the capital fall to the invader with all the murder and mayhem attendant upon a Balkan war.
To protect Americans and other foreigners in Turkey in the event that Constantinople should fall, the United States Ambassador, Mr. Rockhill, asked that warships be sent to the Levant. In response to this request, the Navy Department dispatched Brutus and planned to send two other warshil?s. The Treasury Department ordered Unalga to remain at Port Said and place herself under the orders of Ambassador Rockhill should need for her services arise. During the six weeks she stayed at Port Said, the tempo of hostilities decreased in Thrace because the Bulgars failed to breach the Chatalla Line held by the Turks athwart the road to Constantinople. On 3 December, the Turks and Bulgars concluded a preliminary armistice preparatory to the peace conference which began in London in late December. On 17 December, the same day the conference began, Unalga departed Port Said to transit the Suez Canal and continue her interrupted voyage to the west coast of North America.
After stops at Aden, Ceylon, Singapore, Manila, Yokohama, Japan, and Honolulu, the cutter arrived at Port Townsend on 22 March 1913. Five days after reporting to the Commander, Northern Division, she was reassigned to the Bering Sea Fleet. On 3 May she departed Port Townsend for her first cruise to Alaskan waters. During that assignment, she visited Kodiak and Unalaska before returning to Port Townsend on 11 August. On 3 October, Unalga was reassigned to the Southern Division and, on the 21st, got underway for San Francisco, where she arrived four days later. The cutter served with the Southern Division until detached on 25 March 1914. After spending the first 20 days of April at Oakland, Calif., undergoing repairs, she headed back to Alaska and duty in the Bering Sea.
For the next three years, the cutter alternated between assignments with the Northern Division and the Bering Sea Fleet. After World War I broke out in Europe on 1 August 1914, she took on the added responsibility of enforcing America's neutrality laws. In February 1915, she also started patrols to enforce the provisions of the 1911 convention between the United States, Great Britain, Japan, and Russia for the protection of fur seals. Those two responsibilities as well as her normal duties, took her to a number of Alaskan ports such as Seward, Juneau, and Skagway in addition to Unalaska and to such places as Cook's Inlet, Slime Banks, the Pribilofs, and St. Matthew's Island.
When the United States entered World War I on 6
April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson issued an Executive Order which placed the Coast Guard under the Jurisdiction of the Navy Department for the duration of hostilities; and Unalga joined the Navy. Though assigned to the seagoing fighting service, she continued to discharge her former duties. She made a cruise a year to the Alaska-Bering Sea area during the summer months of 1917, 1918, and 1919. On each cruise, she transported mail and supplies to fishermen and natives in inaccessible areas, provided medical assistance where needed, and aided vessels in distress. During the 1918 cruise, she also participated in the settlement of a labor dispute that arose in several canneries. In addition to the routine described above, she continued patrols in support of the fur seal protection convention Since the nation was at war, Unalga also kept a vigilent watch for enemy ships, but the slight probability of the appearance of a German, Austro-Hungarian or Turkish ship in the northern Pacific allowed her to concentrate on her peacetime mission. In all probability, Unalga never fired her guns in anger during her first hitch with the Navy.
The hostilities ended with the armistice of 11 November 1918, but the Coast Guard continued under Navy jurisdiction for another nine months. On 28 August 1919, the Treasury Department resumed control. On that day, the names of all Coast Guard ships which had served the Navy were struck from the Navy list. Unalga hardly noticed the change, however, because she continued her Bering Sea cruises and Northern Division assignments just as before. The cutter cruised the Alaskan and northern Pacific coasts, making calls at familiar ports through the 1920's. At the conclusion of her summer cruise to the Bering Sea in 1930, she departed Port Townsend to return to the east coast for the first time in 18 years. On 5 September, she arrived at an unspecified depot (probably the one at Arundel Cove, Md.). In any case, she was placed out of commission there on 16 February 1931 and, two days later, moved to Philadelphia for extensive repairs. She departed the navy yard on 27 June 1931 to return to the depot, probably for additional work since she was not placed back in commission until 23 April 1932.
On 14 May, she headed south for duty at Port Everglades, Fla., where she arrived on the 24th. She served at that port and at Fort Lauderdale until sometime in 1934. In September of 1933, the cutter served briefly with the Navy again when she was called upon to patrol the waters of the Florida Strait during the series of revolts in Cuba which finally resulted in the beginning of Fulgencio Batista's 25-year dictatorship. On 1 November, she was released from that duty and the next day, was ordered to report to the Commander Southern Area (USCG) for further orders. She resumed normal operations from the Coast Guard station at Port Everglades until sometime in 1936 when she was transferred to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Unalga served at San Juan for most of her remaining active career. On 1 November 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt transferred the Coast Guard to the jurisdiction of the Navy Department; and Unalga rejoined the Navy. Classified as WPG-63 sometime in 1942, she spent the entire war operating out of San Juan, conducting antisubmarine patrols under the auspices of the Commandant, 10th Naval District. The paucity of information on her World War II service suggests that she never encountered the enemy. Sometime in 1945, the cutter was reassigned to the 6th Naval District, operating in and around Norfolk. Subsequently decommissioned and turned over to the War Shipping Administration, Unalga was sold in July 1946.
USCGC Unalga (WPG-53)
|module= Career (U.S.) Name: USCGC UnalgaNamesake: Unalga Island, Alaska, U.S.Operator: United States Coast GuardBuilder: Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Corporation, Newport News, Virginia Ώ] Cost: 250,000 US$ ΐ] Α] Launched: 10 February 1912 ΐ] Sponsored by: Miss Elizabeth Hilles ΐ] Christened: 10 February 1912Commissioned: 23 May 1912 ΐ] Α] Decommissioned: 10 October 1945 ΐ] Maiden voyage: 20 April 1912, Hampton Roads, Virginia Α] Fate: turned over to War Shipping Administration for sale. Sold 19 July 1946. |module2= General characteristics Displacement: 1,181 tons ΐ] Length: 190 ft (58 m)Beam: 32.5 ft (9.9 m)Draft: 14.1 ft (4.3 m)Propulsion: Triple-expansion steam power-plant producing 1,300 ihp (970 kW)Speed: Max 12.5 knotsRange: Cruising: 7.9 knots, 4200 mile rangeComplement: 73 (1930)Sensors and
processing systems: SF-1, SA-2 detection radars QCL-5 sonar (1945)Armament:
2 six-pounder rapid fire guns (1912)
2 x 3"/50 cal guns, 2 x 20mm guns, 2 x depth charge racks (1943) ΐ] >> USCGC Unalga was a Miami-Class cutter that served in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Navy. The early part of her career was spent patrolling the Pacific coast of the United States and the Bering Sea. After 1931 she did patrol work off Florida and in the Caribbean. After Unalga was sold in 1946, she was renamed and used for six months for moving Jewish refugees from Europe to Palestine before being forced to run aground by British Navy ships near Haifa.
LORAN STATION ST. MATTHEW
1943 - First station the decision was made that loran stations were expendable.
17 JUN 1943 - USCGC CLOVER departed Dutch Harbor with building supplies.
20-21 SEP 1943 - During the testing period, five enlisted set out from the loran station in a small surfboat for a trip along the shoreline to the Army Weather Station about 9 miles away to pickup a small gasoline engine generator. The men, the boat and all equipment disappeared without a trace, despitethe fact that the sea was calm and that they had orders to remain within 200 yards of the shore. Search parties failed to find any clue other than a 5-gallon oil can which was known to have been in the boat.
The men lost:
HAGLUND, Floyd O. (220-806) RM1c
BREIMO, Elmer O. (538-963) Cox. (R)
MACLEAN, Thomas L. (636-878) Sea.1c (R)
SCHMOLL, Kenneth H. (506-786) RM3c (R)
HAGEN, Edward C. (584-147) RM3c
FALL 1943 - The U.S. Army consolidated their quarters with the loran station 9 miles west of the station.
28 JUN 1944 - CG Unit 254 requested authorization from General Reindeer Supervisor, Nome, AL for 25 females and 5 male reindeer to be purchased and transported from Nunivak Island to St. Matthew.
30 JUN 1944 - Approval granted. The captain of the boat and CG Unit 254 was given Circular Letter No. 60 on the procedures of loading and unloading reindeer.
14 AUG 1944 - CG cutter transported the reindeer to St. Matthew and released. The herd grew to a population of over 6000 and the last female died in 1981.
13 SEP 1946 - CO and 20 enlisted men departed the station aboard the CGC UNALGA
27 - 29 MAY 1949 - CGC NORTHWIND work party ashore at the abandon LTS - loaded skiffs and dory of equipment.
How 80 Coastguardsmen Saved Unalaska From the Spanish Flu PandemicCoast Guard-manned USS Unalga underway in an Alaskan ice field (NOAA)
Published Aug 16, 2020 6:49 PM by U.S. Coast Guard News
[By BM1 William A. Bleyer, United States Coast Guard]
"Occasion sometimes arise . . . in which the officers and crews are called upon to face situations of desperate human need which put their resourcefulness and energy, and even their courage, to the severest test." - "The Influenza at Unalaska and Dutch Harbor,&rdquo U.S. Coast Guard Annual Report, 1920
Pandemic, quarantines, social distancing and facemasks &ndash too familiar today. These terms resonated with equal disquiet for Americans 100 years ago as the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919 affected nearly every corner of the globe. It caused the deaths of between 25 and 50 million people, more than all who died in World War I. Even in regions with the most advanced medical care, Spanish Influenza killed approximately three percent of all victims.
Crew members of Unalga burying the dead at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. (NOAA)
Medical care in the remote territory of Alaska was far from advanced. When the pandemic arrived in the spring of 1919, it wiped out entire villages. At the time, Alaska was &ldquoan American colony [which] occupied a political status somewhere between a government protectorate and an industrial resource&rdquo and the presence of federal government assets in this immense territory was minimal.
In late May 1919, USS Unalga was patrolling in Seredka Bay off Akun Island, in Alaska&rsquos Aleutian Island chain. World War I had ended just six months prior, so &ndash like all Coast Guard-manned cutters &ndash Unalga and its crew still served as part of the U.S. Navy. At 190 feet, the Unalga&rsquos white hull was only somewhat longer than modern Fast Response Cutters patrolling Alaska&rsquos waters today. And while Unalga&rsquos daily operations were fundamentally similar to today&rsquos FRCs, they were much broader. An Alaskan patrol in 1919 could consist of law enforcement boardings of fishing and sealing vessels inspecting canneries transporting mail, supplies, passengers, and prisoners rescuing shipwrecked or stranded victims rendering medical care acting as a floating court and resolving labor disputes.
On May 26, Unalga was resting at anchor following a routine day of seamanship and signals training. At around 1600 an urgent radio message arrived. The settlement of Unalaska on nearby Unalaska Island was suffering from a severe outbreak of Spanish Influenza. The cutter&rsquos commanding officer, Capt. Frederick Dodge, prepared to get the Unalga underway at dawn.
That night, Unalga received another radiogram&ndashthe region around Bristol Bay, on Alaska&rsquos southwestern mainland, needed urgent help to cope with its own outbreak. Dodge faced a dilemma: the Unalga could not be in two places at once. He radioed his command that he was setting a course for the closer Unalaska to assess the situation.
Remote even today, in 1919 Unalaska and adjacent Dutch Harbor were tiny villages with a combined population of about 360 people, mostly of Aleut or mixed Russian-native ancestry. There was only one doctor on the entire island.
After arriving, Unalga&rsquos crew disembarked to a horrific scene. Nearly the entire settlement was infected, including the only doctor and all but one operator at Dutch Harbor&rsquos Navy radio station. The situation was critical as historian Alfred Crosby noted in America&rsquos Forgotten Pandemic:
. . . very large proportions of isolated populations tended to contract Spanish Influenza all at once. The sick outnumbered those doing the nursing. The sick, therefore, lacked fluids, food, and proper care, which caused very high death rates&hellip effective leadership was vital to keeping death rates down. If complacency, incompetence, sickness, or bad luck crippled the ability of the leaders to react efficiently to the pandemic, then Spanish Influenza could be as deadly as the Black Death.
Members of Unalga&rsquos crew shepherding orphan children to safety. (NOAA)
It now fell to the men of the Unalga to provide lifesaving leadership and medical care. Out of the Unalga&rsquos crew of approximately 80 men, only three had medical training: Ship&rsquos Surgeon Lt. j.g. Dr. F.H. Johnson (U.S. Public Health Service), Lt. E.W. Scott (U.S. Navy Dental Corps), and Pharmacist&rsquos Mate 1/class E.S. Chase. These men began coordinating the town&rsquos medical care. Together, they assembled a group of volunteers from the crew that kept growing until it included personnel drawn from every department on board the cutter.
Unalga&rsquos crew wearing &ldquoFlu&rdquo masks. All the cutter&rsquos crew members involved in the humanitarian effort volunteered to help. (NOAA)
From May 26 to June 4, Unalga proved the difference between life and death for the inhabitants of Unalaska. Captain Dodge initiated feeding the town using Unalga&rsquos food stores. Crewmembers delivered 350 prepared meals on the first day and, by the height of the pandemic, they were delivering more than 1,000 meals per day. Villagers ranked the ship&rsquos emergency rations somewhere between awful and lousy, but they ate them.
Orphans and a caretaker at the Unalga Orphan Home. (NOAA)
Every crewmember engaged in some aspect of relief work. Nicknamed &ldquogobs,&rdquo those not caring for the sick provided logistical support, such as keeping fires for incapacitated villagers or helping prepare or deliver food. Other crewmen took over operation of the Navy radio station in Dutch Harbor. The men even built a temporary hospital outfitted with plumbing and electrified by the cutter&rsquos generator.
Caring for the sick and burying the dead was an exhausting and emotionally challenging job. Death by &ldquoThe Spanish Lady&rdquo (the disease&rsquos elegantly macabre nickname) was often horrific. Victims frequently suffered from double pneumonia and drowned when their lungs filled with fluid, some of it oozing out of their noses and mouths when they died. The crewmembers nursed the sick with no protective equipment except cloth facemasks, exposing themselves to infection. Several men became ill, including Dodge. He determined he was well enough to remain in command and later recovered. While Unalga&rsquos crew did their best to save lives, they ultimately had to inter 45 victims beneath white Russian Orthodox crosses in Unalaska&rsquos cemetery.
Orphans and a caretaker at the Unalga Orphan Home. (NOAA)
Unalga&rsquos crew also cared for the children of the deceased or incapacitated. Unlike seasonal flu, Spanish Influenza acutely affected young adults, probably because it provoked an overreaction in the victims&rsquo immune system. This had the tragic effect of creating a number of orphans. Even if not infected, these children were vulnerable to starvation, freezing, or attack by feral dogs, described by Unalga&rsquos men as similar to ravenous wolves. Unalaska had its own orphanage, the Jesse Lee Home, but when that filled up, a vacant house was requisitioned and named the &ldquoUSS UNALGA Orphan Home.&rdquo When that also filled, Dodge started housing children in the town jail under the care of the town marshal. Among these orphans was Benny Benson, who later designed the state flag of Alaska.
Unalga&rsquos Master-at-Arms, Peter &ldquoBig Pete&rdquo Bugaras volunteered to care for the orphans. An enlisted man responsible for enforcing ship&rsquos discipline and handling prisoners, Bugaras had a reputation as &ldquothe strongest man in the Coast Guard Service,&rdquo and was described as &ldquoGreek by birth, a born fighter of men, and protector of all things helpless and small.&rdquo Burly and big-hearted, Bugaras took responsibility for running the UNALGA Orphan Home. He had his men fashion clothes for the children by tracing outlines of their bodies on bolts of cloth and cutting them out. Several women in the village were appalled to see Bugaras enthusiastically scrubbing children clean with the same vigor he used on dogs, but by all accounts the little ones loved him.
Outside help finally arrived on June 3, when Coast Guard Cutter Bear dropped anchor. Under the combined effort of the two cutter crews, many of the surviving victims began to recover and the pandemic subsided. Navy vessels also arrived. In the words of Unalga officer Eugene Coffin: &ldquoNavy ships and nurses were sent to Unalaska after we yelled for them.&rdquo With the arrival of warships USS Vicksburg and USS Marblehead in mid-June, Dodge resupplied the Unalga to set sail for Bristol Bay. Unalaska&rsquos last death occurred June 13 and with its departure on June 17, the Unalga&rsquos relief of Unalaska officially ended.
Unalga men burying the dead at the Russian Orthodox Cemetery in Unalaska. (NOAA)
The Unalga&rsquos care of Unalaska&rsquos inhabitants had been somewhat rough-hewn but effective. During the cutter&rsquos relief effort, the local mortality rate had hovered around 12 percent, while other areas in Alaska experienced up to 90 percent.
The Coast Guardsmen of the Unalga were far from saints, but for years later the inhabitants of Unalaska remembered them as saviors. In July 1919, Unalaska&rsquos Russian Orthodox priest, Dimitri Hotovitzky, and Aleut Chief, Alexei Yatchmeneff, co-wrote a letter to Dodge stating &ldquoWe feel had it not been for the prompt and efficient work of the Unalga, when everyone willingly and readily exposed himself to succor the sick, Unalaska&rsquos population might have been reduced to a very small number if not entirely wiped out.&rdquo
While Unalga&rsquos performance at Unalaska drew universal acclaim, the cutter and USS Marblehead were criticized for arriving in the Bristol Bay region too late to make a difference. As the disease had largely run its course, Unalga&rsquos crew worked with the Marblehead&rsquos Navy personnel to provide for the remaining medical care and relief work in the community. When the pandemic finally released Alaska from its grip, nearly 3,000 inhabitants had died. Nearly all of the dead were Native Alaskans, an irreparable loss to the indigenous community and its culture.
Unalga&rsquos officers, including: Standing: Lieutenant Junior Grade Willie B. Huebner USNRF Captain Eugene Auguste Coffin USCG Captain Warner Keith Thompson USCG Captain Theodore Graham Lewton USCG Lieutenant E. W. Scott USNRF (Dental Corps) Lieutenant Junior Grade Dr. F. H. Johnson USPHS. Sitting: Lieutenant Carl E. Anderson USNRF Senior Captain Frederick Gilbert Dodge USCG Lieutenant Gordon Whiting MacLane USCG.
Every pandemic and its tragedies are unique, but in the Coast Guard&rsquos response today we can hear echoes of 1919, when the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Unalga quarantined and rendered pandemic relief to the remote Alaskan settlement of Unalaska. Cutter Unalga and the men who sailed aboard it made history as part of the lore of Alaska and the long blue line.
This article appears courtesy of Coast Guard Compass and may be found in its original form here.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.
As the testament above indicates, The Coast Guard’s response to the Spanish Flu Pandemic in Alaska would prove the ultimate test of bravery and endurance.
Pandemic, quarantines, social distancing and facemasks–too familiar today.
These terms resonated with equal disquiet for Americans 100 years ago as the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919 affected nearly every corner of the globe.
It caused the deaths of between 25 and 50 million people, more than all who died in World War I.
Even in regions with the most advanced medical care, Spanish Influenza killed approximately three percent of all victims.
Medical care in the remote territory of Alaska was far from advanced.
When the pandemic arrived in the spring of 1919, it wiped out entire villages.
At the time, Alaska was “an American colony [which] occupied a political status somewhere between a government protectorate and an industrial resource and the presence of Federal Government assets in this immense territory was minimal.
In late May 1919, USS Unalga was patrolling in Seredka Bay off Akun Island, in Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain.
World War I had ended just six months prior, so – like all Coast Guard-manned cutters – Unalga and its crew still served as part of the U.S. Navy.
At 190 feet, the Unalga’s white hull was only somewhat longer than modern Fast Response Cutters patrolling Alaska’s waters today.
And while Unalga’s daily operations were fundamentally similar to today’s FRCs, they were much broader.
An Alaskan patrol in 1919 could consist of law enforcement boardings of fishing and sealing vessels inspecting canneries transporting mail, supplies, passengers, and prisoners rescuing shipwrecked or stranded victims rendering medical care acting as a floating court and resolving labor disputes.
On May 26th, Unalga was resting at anchor following a routine day of seamanship and signals training.
At around 4 p.m., an urgent radio message arrived.
The settlement of Unalaska on nearby Unalaska Island was suffering from a severe outbreak of Spanish Influenza.
The cutter’s commanding officer, Capt. Frederick Dodge, prepared to get the Unalga underway at dawn.
That night, Unalga received another radiogram–the region around Bristol Bay, on Alaska’s southwestern mainland, needed urgent help to cope with its own outbreak.
Dodge faced a dilemma: the Unalga could not be in two places at once.
He radioed his command that he was setting a course for the closer Unalaska to assess the situation.
Remote even today, in 1919 Unalaska and adjacent Dutch Harbor were tiny villages with a combined population of about 360 people, mostly of Aleut or mixed Russian-native ancestry.
There was only one doctor on the entire island.
After arriving, Unalga’s crew disembarked to a horrific scene.
Nearly the entire settlement was infected, including the only doctor and all but one operator at Dutch Harbor’s Navy radio station.
The situation was critical as historian Alfred Crosby noted in America’s Forgotten Pandemic:
It now fell to the men of the Unalga to provide lifesaving leadership and medical care.
Out of the Unalga’s crew of approximately 80 men, only three had medical training: Ship’s Surgeon Lt. j.g. Dr. F.H. Johnson (U.S. Public Health Service), Lt. E.W. Scott (U.S. Navy Dental Corps), and Pharmacist’s Mate 1/class E.S. Chase.
These men began coordinating the town’s medical care.
Together, they assembled a group of volunteers from the crew that kept growing until it included personnel drawn from every department on board the cutter.
From May 26th to June 4th, Unalga proved the difference between life and death for the inhabitants of Unalaska.
Captain Dodge initiated feeding the town using Unalga’s food stores.
Crewmembers delivered 350 prepared meals on the first day and, by the height of the pandemic, they were delivering more than 1,000 meals per day.
Villagers ranked the ship’s emergency rations somewhere between awful and lousy, but they ate them.
Every crewmember engaged in some aspect of relief work.
Nicknamed “gobs,” those not caring for the sick provided logistical support, such as keeping fires for incapacitated villagers or helping prepare or deliver food.
Other crewmen took over operation of the Navy radio station in Dutch Harbor.
The men even built a temporary hospital outfitted with plumbing and electrified by the cutter’s generator.
Caring for the sick and burying the dead was an exhausting and emotionally challenging job.
Death by “The Spanish Lady” (the disease’s elegantly macabre nickname) was often horrific.
Victims frequently suffered from double pneumonia and drowned when their lungs filled with fluid, some of it oozing out of their noses and mouths when they died.
The crewmembers nursed the sick with no protective equipment except cloth facemasks, exposing themselves to infection.
Several men became ill, including Dodge.
He determined he was well enough to remain in command and later recovered.
While Unalga’s crew did their best to save lives, they ultimately had to inter 45 victims beneath white Russian Orthodox crosses in Unalaska’s cemetery.
Unalga’s crew also cared for the children of the deceased or incapacitated.
Unlike seasonal flu, Spanish Influenza acutely affected young adults, probably because it provoked an overreaction in the victims’ immune system.
This had the tragic effect of creating a number of orphans.
Even if not infected, these children were vulnerable to starvation, freezing, or attack by feral dogs, described by Unalga’s men as similar to ravenous wolves.
Unalaska had its own orphanage, the Jesse Lee Home, but when that filled up, a vacant house was requisitioned and named the “USS UNALGA Orphan Home.”
When that also filled, Dodge started housing children in the town jail under the care of the town marshal.
Among these orphans was Benny Benson, who later designed the state flag of Alaska.
Unalga’s Master-at-Arms, Peter “Big Pete” Bugaras volunteered to care for the orphans.
An enlisted man responsible for enforcing ship’s discipline and handling prisoners, Bugaras had a reputation as “the strongest man in the Coast Guard Service,” and was described as “Greek by birth, a born fighter of men, and protector of all things helpless and small.” Burly and big-hearted, Bugaras took responsibility for running the UNALGA Orphan Home.
He had his men fashion clothes for the children by tracing outlines of their bodies on bolts of cloth and cutting them out.
Several women in the village were appalled to see Bugaras enthusiastically scrubbing children clean with the same vigor he used on dogs, but by all accounts the little ones loved him.
Outside help finally arrived on June 3rd, when Coast Guard Cutter Bear dropped anchor.
Under the combined effort of the two cutter crews, many of the surviving victims began to recover and the pandemic subsided.
Navy vessels also arrived.
In the words of Unalga officer Eugene Coffin: “Navy ships and nurses were sent to Unalaska after we yelled for them.” With the arrival of warships USS Vicksburg and USS Marblehead in mid-June, Dodge resupplied the Unalga to set sail for Bristol Bay.
Unalaska’s last death occurred June 13th and with its departure on June 17th, the Unalga’s relief of Unalaska officially ended.
The Unalga’s care of Unalaska’s inhabitants had been somewhat rough-hewn but effective.
During the cutter’s relief effort, the local mortality rate had hovered around 12 percent, while other areas in Alaska experienced up to 90 percent.
The Coast Guardsmen of the Unalga were far from saints, but for years later the inhabitants of Unalaska remembered them as saviors.
In July 1919, Unalaska’s Russian Orthodox priest, Dimitri Hotovitzky, and Aleut Chief, Alexei Yatchmeneff, co-wrote a letter to Dodge stating “We feel had it not been for the prompt and efficient work of the Unalga, when everyone willingly and readily exposed himself to succor the sick, Unalaska’s population might have been reduced to a very small number if not entirely wiped out.”
While Unalga’s performance at Unalaska drew universal acclaim, the cutter and USS Marblehead were criticized for arriving in the Bristol Bay region too late to make a difference.
As the disease had largely run its course, Unalga’s crew worked with the Marblehead’s Navy personnel to provide for the remaining medical care and relief work in the community.
When the pandemic finally released Alaska from its grip, nearly 3,000 inhabitants had died.
Nearly all of the dead were Native Alaskans, an irreparable loss to the indigenous community and its culture.
Every pandemic and its tragedies are unique, but in the Coast Guard’s response today we can hear echoes of 1919, when the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Unalga quarantined and rendered pandemic relief to the remote Alaskan settlement of Unalaska.
Cutter Unalga and the men who sailed aboard it made history as part of the lore of Alaska and the long blue line.
How coasties saved an entire village in 1919 during the Spanish Flu
Alaska is still considered the last frontier, even in today’s modern times. The unforgiving and extreme weather coupled with the rough terrain makes it a challenging place to live. One hundred years ago – during the Spanish Flu – it was even more deadly.
The world is very familiar with the new words in our daily vocabulary: quarantine, face mask and social distancing, thanks to COVID-19 and the current global pandemic. Just 100 years ago this was the case as well, during the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu. The big difference between then and now are the extreme advancements in technology and medical care. According to the CDC, 500 million people were positive and 50 million people died from the Spanish Flu.
In a wild place like Alaska with scarce medical care, it was a sure death sentence.
When the Spanish Flu arrived in Alaska during the spring of 1919, it wiped out villages – and fast. World War I had just ended and on May 26, 1919, the USS Unalga was patrolling around the Aleutian Islands, near Akun Island located in Seredka Bay. The crew and ship were still technically considered part of the Navy, with the war only ending shortly before that. Their role in that moment was law enforcement, inspection, mail transport and rescues. They were also a floating court and were able to give medical care to those in need.
After a full day of training, the crew was resting when they received a distress call from a newer settlement on Unalaska Island. They reported a severe outbreak of the Spanish Flu. The Coast Guard didn’t hesitate they planned to get underway at dawn. Although they would receive another distress call from a settlement in Bristol Bay, the captain made the decision to head to Unalaska Island first.
When the crew made their way off the ship, they were shocked. It was if the entirety of the settlement had been infected with the Spanish Flu, the doctor included. They also discovered that all but one operator of the small U.S. Navy radio station had it as well. The coastie crew of the USS Unalga was their last hope of survival.
With that, the 80 coasties dove in. Pharmacist’s Mate First Class E.S. Chase, Lieutenant Junior Grade Dr. F.H. Johnson and Lieutenant E.W. Scott (a dentist), were the only men on board with advanced medical training. Despite that, they were all in. For over a week they were the only resource of support for Unalaska with nothing but cloth masks to protect themselves.
The captain made the decision to utilize the food on board to feed the entire town. At one point, they were providing up to 1,000 meals a day. The coasties even built a temporary hospital with pumping and electricity that was powered through the ship’s own power plant.
Without the proper protective equipment that today we know is critical, many of the crew fell ill themselves, including the captain. Despite this, they charged on and continued working. Although the 80 coasties fought to save everyone, they did bury 45 villagers who succumbed to the Spanish Flu.
The crew was not only caring for the ill, but for the children of those who died because the orphanage became full. Without their willingness to step forward, the children were at risk of dying from starvation, the elements and even documented feral dogs that were roaming the island. Some of the crew even made clothing for the children.
On June 3, 1919, the Coast Guard Cutter arrived to support their efforts. With both crews nursing and caring for the sick, recovery began. Due to the dedication of these coasties, the mortality rate of the village was only 12 percent. The majority of Alaska was at 90 percent mortality. At the end of the Spanish flu, around 3,000 Alaskans lost their lives, most of them natives.
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the bill that led to the Medicare and Medicaid. The original Medicare program included Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Today these 2 parts are called “Original Medicare.” Over the years, Congress has made changes to Medicare:
For example, in 1972, Medicare was expanded to cover the disabled, people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) requiring dialysis or kidney transplant, and people 65 or older that select Medicare coverage.
At first, Medicaid gave medical insurance to people getting cash assistance. Today, a much larger group is covered:
- Low-income families
- Pregnant women
- People of all ages with disabilities
- People who need long-term care
States can tailor their Medicaid programs to best serve the people in their state, so there’s a wide variation in the services offered.
Medicare Part D Prescription Drug benefit
The Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) made the biggest changes to the Medicare in the program in 38 years. Under the MMA, private health plans approved by Medicare became known as Medicare Advantage Plans. These plans are sometimes called "Part C" or "MA Plans.”
The MMA also expanded Medicare to include an optional prescription drug benefit, “Part D,” which went into effect in 2006.
Children’s Health Insurance Program
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was created in 1997 to give health insurance and preventive care to nearly 11 million, or 1 in 7, uninsured American children. Many of these children came from uninsured working families that earned too much to be eligible for Medicaid. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have CHIP plans.
Affordable Care Act
The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought the Health Insurance Marketplace, a single place where consumers can apply for and enroll in private health insurance plans. It also made new ways for us to design and test how to pay for and deliver health care. Medicare and Medicaid have also been better coordinated to make sure people who have Medicare and Medicaid can get quality services.
50th Anniversary - Medicare & Medicaid Event: 50 Years, Millions Of Healthier Lives
Medicare & Medicaid: keeping us healthy for 50 years
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law legislation that established the Medicare and Medicaid programs. For 50 years, these programs have been protecting the health and well-being of millions of American families, saving lives, and improving the economic security of our nation.
Though Medicare and Medicaid started as basic insurance programs for Americans who didn’t have health insurance, they’ve changed over the years to provide more and more Americans with access to the quality and affordable health care they need.
We marked the anniversary of these programs by recognizing the ways in which these programs have transformed the nation’s health care system over the past 5 decades. We continue to look to the future and explore ways to keep Medicare and Medicaid strong for the next 50 years, by building a smarter and healthier system so that these programs will continue as the standard bearers for coverage, quality and innovation in American health care.
UNALGA WPG 53
This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.
- Miami Class 190-ft Revenue Cutter
Keel Laid - Launched and Christened February 10 1912
This section lists active links to the pages displaying covers associated with the ship. There should be a separate set of pages for each name of the ship (for example, Bushnell AG-32 / Sumner AGS-5 are different names for the same ship so there should be one set of pages for Bushnell and one set for Sumner). Covers should be presented in chronological order (or as best as can be determined).
Since a ship may have many covers, they may be split among many pages so it doesn't take forever for the pages to load. Each page link should be accompanied by a date range for covers on that page.
This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each name and/or commissioning period. Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.
A postmark should not be included unless accompanied by a close-up image and/or an image of a cover showing that postmark. Date ranges MUST be based ONLY ON COVERS IN THE MUSEUM and are expected to change as more covers are added.
>>> If you have a better example for any of the postmarks, please feel free to replace the existing example.
Killer Bar Text
1st Commissioning May 23 1912 to February 16 1931
San Francisco, CA
GOVERNMENT BONDS /
3RD LIBERTY LOAN"
As USS UNALGA. Ship's identity revealed in the enclosed letter.
2nd Commissioning April 23 1932 to October 10 1945
NAMESAKE - An island off Alaska.
If you have images or information to add to this page, then either contact the Curator or edit this page yourself and add it. See Editing Ship Pages for detailed information on editing this page.
The Rainbow. A World War One on Canada's West Coast Timeline
A steamer was emerging from behind American Waldron Island, ahead of the squadron and to the south-east. The vessel was really only visible as a dark shape moving against the dark backdrop of Orcas Island behind.
“Single funnel, no lights, armed, range 6000 meters,” called out the lookout. “In American waters.”
“Guns! Stand down!” ordered Von Schönberg. “Train fore and aft. Helm, keep our heading. Bring us back up to 18 knots.” The Germans were coming out of the confines of the shipping channel through the southern Gulf Islands and into the more open waters of Georgia Strait. They could not yet come up to full speed, since they would soon have to make several turns to follow the line of the International boundary and avoid straying into American waters. Especially now that the Americans are observing, though Von Schönberg.
“Wireless reports transmission, sir,” reported a sailor, “most likely from the unknown vessel. Message appears to be in code. Shall we jam sir?”
“No,” replied Von Schönberg. “Leave be.”
The mystery ship turned north-east, to match the squadron’s course, and turned on her running lights. “Unknown ship is approximately 1000 tons displacement,” called the lookout. “50 meters in length. Two guns forward, one aft.” Minutes passed. The Germans squadron swiftly overtook the American vessel, despite the latter producing an impressive amount of smoke from its tall single stack. To the east an orange glow showed the location of the city of Bellingham, in Washington State. Behind, with the morning’s light starting to define the edges of the sky, the silhouette of Mount Baker’s volcanic cone dominated the eastern skyline.
At 0500 hours, on Mueller’s instructions, Von Schönberg ordered a course change to due north. The squadron rounded East Point on Saturna Island with its flashing lighthouse a mere 2000 meters distant. The American vessel also turned north, following the International boundary, attempting to maintain its relative position of to the German squadron, but continuing to fall behind.
“Unknown vessel is flying stars and stripes,” reported the lookout. “Name on bow is USRC Unalga. Ship seems to be making no more than 12 or 13 knots. ”
“The American has not signaled us,” noted Von Schönberg. “They seem content to just follow the boundary, and make sure we stay outside.
When 0515 hours came, Von Schönberg ordered a turn to the north-west, and the ships accelerated to 20 knots. Unalga continued faithfully to shadow the Germans, but now rapidly fell astern. Before them, in rising light, was laid out the Strait of Georgia, an inland sea separating Vancouver Island from the mainland of British Columbia. This body of water was the highway for the province’s industry. At this hour, on this morning, it was smooth as glass. Ahead, at the narrowest spot between Point Roberts and Mayne Island, the Strait was 9 miles across, but it soon opened wider. A smoky haze to the north was lit by the pre-dawn light.
“Vancouver,” said Von Schönberg. “That is where we are bound. Ah, what a morning it is. And this sea state is particularly good for spotting periscopes.”
To the north, the mountains behind the city brooded in dark green, the low light casting the valleys in deep shadow. To the east, the sky was lighting up pink and orange over the Fraser River valley. In the ships’ wakes, to the south, the cones of Mount Baker and more distantly, Mount Rainier, loomed above all the other terrain, their eastern faces already catching the rising sun. Gulls fell into formation alongside the squadron, effortlessly keeping up where the hapless Unalga was unable.
“Ship!” called a lookout. “Dead ahead!”
A smaller cloud of smoke had separated from the smudge of Vancouver’s urban pall.
“Steamer,” continued the lookout. “Distance approx. 15 nautical miles. Oriented end on, so details unclear. Appears to be a on southerly heading.”
Von Schönberg took his own binoculars to survey the oncoming ship. The unidentified steamer appeared to be a merchant, and was just off the mouth of the North Arm of the mighty Fraser River, where it met salt water south of Vancouver. “Soon we shall have a better view,” he said. At a speed of 20 knots, the German squadron was covering a nautical mile every three minutes. Looking over his shoulder he noted that his ships were making quite a smoke cloud of their own. “We certainly have no time to stop and take a prize at this juncture.”
At 0545 hours the range had closed to 9 nautical miles. By now, all the stars had disappeared, and the sky was a speckless blue. The steamer ahead was indeed southbound and still approaching head on. She had a black hull, and what appeared to be a single funnel, with masts fore and aft. From the derricks on the masts, Von Schönberg took her to be a passenger cargo liner, and judging from the width of her bridge structure, he estimated her displacement to be around 5000 tons. Her single funnel featured a wide horizontal stripe on centre with a narrow stripe above and below. He had a crewman consult the Lloyd’s Registry, and determined this was the livery of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha Line. So a neutral. He looked at the bridge chronometer. For another couple of days, or more like 38 hours give or take.
Nürnberg crossed a sharp line in the ocean. South of the line, the sea was blue, north the water was brown. “The silt from the Fraser River,” said Mueller. “That river drains half this province. Your ship will actually be sitting a bit lower, in the sweet water.” A huge number of shorebirds circled over the mudflats at the shoreline. “The shallows extend two miles or more out into the Strait. This is where we want to be, in nice deep water.” Fishboats became visible close inshore, first a few, then more and more, maneuvering around each other for position. Soon it became apparent that the fishboats were attracted to the mouth of a great river, the South Arm of the Fraser. Now visible along the north bank of the river stood rows of hungry canneries, processing the bounty of the river for export to the wide world.
Shortly after 0600, the oncoming ships passed each other at a distance of 1000 meters. The liner proved to be the 6200 ton Shidzuoka Maru. Bridge crew on the Japanese ship were lined up at the rail with binoculars. A spirited discussion seemed to be taking place among them. “They are saying to each other, that is not the Japanese navy,” said Von Schönberg.
“Prepare to jam their transmissions, sir?” asked a runner from the wireless cabin.
“I believe it is too late for that,” said Von Schönberg. “Either the Japanese transmit who we are, or we jam them and by doing so announce who we are. I expect word has already come from some lighthouse, or perhaps the American Revenue Cutter. No we have passed the time for stealth, we have arrived at the time for action.”
“There is a Dominion Wireless Service station on Point Gray,” Mueller said, pointing to a headland at the entrance to Vancouver harbour. “They would immediately detect and interpret your jamming.”
“Ah,” said Von Schönberg, interested, “Perhaps we can shell the station.”
Mueller was taken aback. It is so hard to adjust, he thought. I am too used to these waters. I keep forgetting what we are here to accomplish. With the Japanese ship running south at 12 knots, and the Germans headed north at 20, the ships passed one another by quite rapidly.
“It is a pity,” mused Von Schönberg, “that we do not still have aboard the Kincolith Brass Band. Some Wagner would be very inspirational just now.”
At 0610 hours, Von Schönberg had a semaphore message sent to Lieutenant Von Spee on the Princess Charlotte. DETATCH AND MAKE WAY TO YOUR OBJECTIVES STOP GODSPEED STOP. The liner acknowledged and turned west, her coarse diverging from the cruisers. Princess Charlotte turned decisively towards the east shore of Vancouver Island and shrank away. Dark mountains bounded the scene in every direction. Directly ahead, the broad expanse of the Strait of Georgia extended to the horizon. In the distance to the west, a faint black soot cloud hinted at the coal fields of Nanaimo. To the east, another of the innumerable channels on this coast lay, this one the entrance to Howe Sound, and further east, Vancouver harbour.
At 0630 hours, Leipzig turned westward, and Nürnberg made a corresponding turn to the east. At this moment the disk of the sun rose over the mountain tops to the east, and lit the long Fraser Valley a golden yellow. Nürnberg’s bridge crew all squinted, dazzled from looking directly into the sun.
East Point (Saturna Island) Lighthouse
Mt Baker Sunrise
Aug 21, 0500 hours, SMS Galiano, Barclay Sound.
“We attack Bamfield Cable Station at dawn,” Hauptbootsmann Krüger had said to his crew, in preparation the night before. But even something as simple as dawn comes in matters of degree. Astronomical Dawn on August 21st arrived at 0408 hours, as the stars began to dim against the sky. The crew rose, prepared the ship, and steamed from silent Ucluelet harbour, blacked out at dead slow. Krüger had studied the channel from charts and in daylight enough to be able to find his way out into open water, but with no experienced local pilot on board, he dared not attempt to weave a path through the treacherous reefs and islets of the Sound in the dark, and instead headed out into the swells of the open Pacific, far enough off shore to ensure deep water below Galiano’s keel. The patrol vessel followed the coast south-east.
“Raise the Red Ensign,” Krüger ordered.
From time to time wireless messages were received, in unreadable code. Nautical Dawn arrived at 0456 hours, when Krüger could see the horizon clearly to seaward, and could distinguish the mountaintops from the sky and shoreline from the background in the maze of islands and passages of the Sound to the east. With this improvement in visibility, Krüger ordered his helmsman to take Galiano north-east up the 3 nautical mile wide stretch of open water called Imperial Eagle Channel. To the south-east, on Cape Beale, he could now clearly see the tapered white tower and black cap of the lighthouse 4 miles off. And so, the lighthouse keeper could also see Galiano’s every movement.
Galiano was making a course down the center of Imperial Eagle Channel in the low light at around 0510, with a mile of open water on either side and the smooth surface of the channel perfectly reflecting the indigo eastern sky, when a cruiser appeared to seaward 6000 meters to Galiano’s stern. The warship was a dark grey mass against the grey western horizon. Krüger startled, then took his binoculars to view the new arrival. The ship was a light cruiser, with two funnels, one large gun behind a shield on her turtleback fo’c’sle and another astern. She was flying the British White Ensign.
So, that Canadian training cruiser Captains Von Schönberg and Haun were so dismissive of, though Krüger. The Rainbow. Just when and where I am utterly helpless. Doesn’t God just have the best sense of humour.
The cruiser flashed Galiano a greeting by Morse light, then asked WHAT STATE ARE MATTERS IN THE TOWN OF UCLUELET? The question made no sense to Krüger. He was so alarmed by the sudden appearance of this enemy bearing his immanent death, that he considered he might be taking leave of his senses. Then he realized, the Canadians think we are a different ship! We are silhouetted by the light conditions, and end on. Galiano must be part of a class of patrol craft on this coast.
ALL IS WELL IN THE TOWN, Krüger had Galiano signal. TELEGRAPH IS STILL BROKEN BUT ALL IS OTHERWISE WELL. That sounds so suspicious, he thought. Next we will be stopped and boarded.
But instead the cruiser signalled farewell and turned to her starboard, making a course due south. If she maintained that heading, she would end up off the US coast, outside of the 3 mile limit. Despite the rising light, the warship soon disappeared into the seaward gloom, leaving only a smoke trail to show her location. For the next while, Galiano received wireless messages, in a code they could not decrypt. I hope none of those messages are for the ship Rainbow thinks we are, though Krüger, for we will not be able to reply.
The cruiser did not reappear. As Krüger’s head cleared, he recalled that he had encountered the name Malaspina on some of the manuals he had skimmed when familiarizing himself with this ship. And he also realized that this doppelganger must be expected to be in his immediate area, or else the Rainbow would not have so easily mistaken the two vessels. Did this endanger his mission? He might need to be extra vigilant, but if Captain Von Schönberg was steaming strait into Vancouver harbour, then Krüger could hardly stray from his target for fear of running into another fisheries patrol vessel. Galiano steamed onward.
It would be very useful, Krüger thought, for Captain Von Schönberg to know that there was a Canadian cruiser here, 6 hours from Esquimalt and blocking the squadron’s path of retreat back to the ocean. But he also knew that there was a Dominion Wireless Station nearby at the Pacheena Point light, and if they received a wireless message in an unfamiliar code they would sound an alarm. It had been Captain Von Schönberg’s hope that he could maintain surprise until his ships appeared right among the merchants in their target harbours. If this surprise was still holding, Krüger did not want to spoil it himself. Once his men severed the cables to the Telegraph Station, he might attempt a warning. The Canadian cruiser was still a minimum of 6 hours away from meeting Von Schönberg. Much could happen in that time.
At 0522 hours, SMS Galiano entered Satellite Passage, taking her through the Deer Group of islands from Imperial Eagle Channel into narrower Trevor Channel. No sooner had Galiano disappeared into the passage, that CGS Malapina, her identical sister ship, rounded Cape Beale, steaming on a north-westerly heading, just offshore for headed for Ucluelet at her full speed of 14 and a half knots. By the time the German ship fully emerged into Trevor Channel ten minutes later, its Canadian twin had passed by and disappeared behind King Edward Island to the north-west, leaving only a wake and faint trail of coal smoke. The lighthouse keeper, atop his tower, casually observed these movements, of Canadian flagged patrol vessels patrolling, and thought them unremarkable.
Now in Trevor Channel, Krüger sized up the situation, and compared the land and water he saw in front of him to his charts. The channel itself was about a mile wide, running on a southwest to northeast axis, bounded by the Deer Group of islands generally to the north and the main body of Vancouver Island to the south. If one followed Trevor Channel far enough, it turned into fjordlike Alberni Canal, and one could steam all the way to the mill town of Port Alberni, another 25 miles inland.
Krüger could see a notch in the coastline on the far shore to his south, the entry to the small inlet where lay the hamlet of Bamfield, to the seaward end of the peninsula. As Galiano steamed north and the aspect changed, some wood frame buildings could be seen through the narrow gap into Bamfield Inlet. The Cable Station building was not visible from this angle. North of Bamfield, Krüger could follow the land portion of the telegraph line on its poles as in snaked along the shoreline, headed inland.
“Landing party, form up!” ordered Krüger. 18 men lined up on the port main deck, sheltered by the overhang of the upper deck above, with Stabbootsman Lange in command. The two petty officers carried stocked Navy Luger carbines, the rest carried rifles. All wore webbing with magazine pouches for their respective weapons. A wooden crate with rope handles held Dynamite, blasting caps, fuses, and various wire cutting pliers. Two riflemen also carried axes. Overhead, the sound of boats being swung out could be heard.
“You have your orders,” said Krüger. “Once the cables are cut, Galiano will return to provide you with cover. Naval gunfire support,” he said in an exaggerated tone, gesturing towards the 6 pounder deck gun. “We will have to use discretion. If the Cable Station proves to be too well defended, we may have to withdraw. That could prove to be trouble depending on how far we have committed. I would personally be happy if we manage to burn down the Cable Station building, even if we must resort to throwing some Dynamite through the windows before retreating.”
Two gasoline engine powered boats were lowered, and the landing parties embarked. All 18 men could have fit in the single larger boat, but Krüger decided that since the landing party might, in a the worst case, be performing something of an opposed amphibious landing at the cable station, that redundancy was a benefit. The boats cast off and headed for the shore.
Galiano turned about and travelled to seaward down the channel. She steamed past the entrance to Bamfield Inlet, her Red Ensign flapping high on the mast. The Transpacific Cable Station revealed itself, sitting high atop a narrow peninsula that divided the inlet in two. The four story wood frame building looked very handsome, appearing to Krüger like a jolly resort hotel. Various smaller buildings servicing the station and for other miscellaneous purposes were scattered around the peninsula and on the opposite side of the inlet. A long wooden ramp descended to the wharf below the station, and several smaller wharves served the opposite shore. A few small boats were moored here and there. Krüger noticed a few figures moving about, none of them seemed to be in a state of alarm. Then the Galiano passed by, and the trees of the forest intervened in his view. Civil Twilight, the period that is effectively daylight before the sunrise, arrived at 0539 hours.
Krüger had Galiano continue down the center of Trevor Chanel for another 2000 meters, then the ship reduced her speed to dead slow. From this position, he could not see the Cape Beale lighthouse. On the either shore were large signs saying No Anchorage, Submarine Cable. Galiano’s charts confirmed the approximate location of the cable, at a depth of 75 meters, but it took nearly 15 minutes of dragging with a hawser and anchor from a ship’s boat to hook the cable and bring it to the surface. Kruger had given orders for the landing party to cut their telegraph cable at 0600 precisely. The work party on Galiano’s fantail had to hurry to synchronize cutting the submarine cable at the same time, then worked up a sweat as two men with axes chopped repeatedly at the 5 centimeter diameter cable, hacking through first the gutta-percha waterproofing, then the steel armour cables, and finally the copper transmission strand. Krüger could not tell if the resulting sparks were from the axes striking the steel of the cable, or if it was a final telegraph message, cut short.
F. A. Zeusler Photograph and Film Collection, ca. 1897-1950s
Frederick A. Zeusler was born in Baltimore in 1890. He joined the Coast Guard as a cadet in 1908 and graduated in 1911, from what would later become known as the U. S. Coast Guard Academy. His was the first class to graduate from its New London, Connecticut home. He served on the vessels Onondoga, Unalga, Snohomish, Bear, McCulloch, Modoc, Tampa, Seneca, Monahan, Cassin, Chelan, Northland, and Spencer, and others, from 1911 until he retired finally from the Coast Guard, as an admiral, in 1947.
He spent his first two years on the East Coast, then moved to Bering Sea patrol on the Unalga in 1913. In 1914 he met Clarice in Port Angeles, where he was based on the Snohomish and she was a teacher. After explaining to her what kind of life she could expect married to a Coast Guard officer who spent significant time at sea, they became engaged. They married in April 1916.
In the meantime Zeusler had been assigned to the Bear on Bering Sea Patrol and Arctic Patrol. Then before World War I he was assigned to the McCulloch on Bering Sea Patrol, based in Sausalito. Zeusler’s first daughter was born in Sausalito in 1917. After the war he returned to duty on the Snohomish and again was based in Port Angeles. His second daughter, Jean, was born there.
In 1923 Zeusler was sent to Washington, D.C. as communications and ordinance officer. His family enjoyed living there, but he was anxious to get back to the sea. After receiving training for three months at Harvard in oceanography, Zeusler served as an oceanographer on ice patrol for several seasons, May to September, in the North Atlantic.
From 1926 Zeusler was sent on rum patrol in the Atlantic out of New York. As a result of volunteering as commanding officer of the second division of rum patrol, he served from June 1931 to January 1933 as commanding officer of the Coast Guard destroyer Abel P. Upshur. After a short tour of duty on the Hunt, he was placed in command of the cutter Chelan, which was on the Bering Sea Patrol. He was very happy to get back to the West Coast. He was appointed U.S. Commissioner, Third Judicial Division, District of Alaska in addition to his duties on the Chelan.
The Chelan was based in Alaska in the summer and in Seattle in the winter. In October 1934, he was designated chief of staff of the Seattle Division and while acting in this capacity was a special lecturer and later instructor in oceanography at the University of Washington.
To his dissatisfaction, he was transferred back to Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C. in October 1935 where he acted as chief communications officer until April 1937 when he was placed in command of the Coast Guard cutter Northland. American journalist and war correspondent Ernie Pyle had occasion to visit aboard the cutter Northland during the 1937 season, and his column for September 14, 1937 gives us an idea of what type of commanding officer Captain Zeusler was:
Captain Zeusler is rather a young man, although he first came to the Arctic in 1913. This is his ninth cruise in the Bering Sea. He has a fine home in Seattle, and a daughter in college. He is a widely informed and studious man.
I am surprised at the discipline aboard ship. I had supposed that the Coast Guard, being an organization which actually does work, would have rather slipshod workaday discipline. But not so. It is just as strict as in the Navy.
I like the way Captain Zeusler runs this ship. Discipline is strict, but it is a discipline of reason. There is no overfamiliarity with the captain, and yet there isn’t a lot of false kow-towing like you see on many service ships. He treats his men as though they were humans.
Zeusler was assigned as commander, Juneau District, Alaska and in March 1942 was designated as captain of the port for the Territory of Alaska, and served on the staff of commander, Alaska Section as off shore patrol commander, and head of the Sitka subsection.
He was transferred to the Thirteenth Coast Guard District, Seattle, in April 1944 and served in that capacity until July 8, 1946, when he retired after 38 years in the Coast Guard.
Admiral Zeusler was recalled to active duty in November 1946 as a consultant to a congressional committee studying the shipping problems of Alaska. He served with the committee until March 1, 1947, when he was again released from active duty.
In addition to World War I and II campaign medals, Admiral Zeusler held the Bronze Star for his World War II service as commander of naval forces in the Sitka, Alaska area, and the Legion of Merit for service as district commander of the Seventeenth (Juneau) and Thirteenth (Seattle) Coast Guard Districts during the war.
After retiring from the Coast Guard, Zeusler wrote and spoke frequently on maritime topics. Admiral Zeusler was also known on the Seattle waterfront as a steamship executive, having served as executive assistant to the president of the Alaska Steamship Company from 1947 to 1954. He was also active in civic organizations related to the Port of Seattle.
In the 1960s Zeusler was active in the Pacific Northwest Maritime Historical Society. His wife, Clarice died in 1966, 15 days short of what would have been their 50th wedding anniversary.
After his retirement, he lived in the Seattle area for many years before moving to California in 1975. Admiral Zeusler died in Santa Barbara in December 14, 1981, at age 91.
Most of the information in this biography came from the following sources:
The Coast Guard career of Admiral Frederick A. Zeusler : a portrait of a career at sea as taken from the writings, diaries, and oral history of Admiral F. A. Zeusler. Compiled by Fred Olson, December 1990.
“Rear Admiral F. A. Zeusler,” Marine Digest, v. 60, no. 19, December 19, 1981, p. 6+.
13 Volumes (13 Boxes) : 35 Glass Lantern slides 216 Glass slides 231 Slides 462 Negatives 7 nitrate negatives 21 - 16mm films 3 – 32mm films 35mm motion picture film cuts 2 b/w photo albums Approximately 1325 b/w photographs from album 127 Loose b/w photographs 1 Magazine article 1 calendar 1 booklet 6 matted photos