INGHAM's History -- Before World War II

Courtesy of the Coast Guard Historian's Office

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter SAMUEL D. INGHAM (Builder's No. CG-66) was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and was the fourth cutter to bear that name. The Treasury Department awarded her contract on 30 January 1934. Her keel was laid on 1 May 1935 and she was launched on 3 June 1936 along with her sister Treasury-class cutters WILLIAM J. DUANE and ROGER B. TANEY. The SAMUEL D. INGHAM was christened by Ms. Katherine INGHAM Brush on that date and the new cutter was formally commissioned on 12 September 1936.

The Coast Guard assigned her to her permanent home station of Port Angeles, Washington, where she participated in the annual Bering Sea patrols. She departed Philadelphia on 6 November 1936 and arrived in Port Angeles on 12 December 1936. With the commander of the Bering Sea Patrol aboard, SAMUEL D. INGHAM departed for the Bering Sea on 20 April 1937. It was during this patrol that all of the Treasury Class cutters' names were shortened in May of 1937 and SAMUEL D. INGHAM's name then became simply "INGHAM." She detached from the Bering Sea Patrol on 28 July 1937 and arrived back at Port Angeles on 9 August. On 14 June 1938 INGHAM departed on a special fisheries cruise until 18 August 1938 and conducted another the following summer, arriving back at Seattle on 18 July 1939.

After war broke out in Europe, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on 5 September 1939, proclaimed American neutrality in the conflict and ordered the formation of a neutrality patrol by the Navy to report and track any belligerent air, surface, or submarine activity in the waters off the United States east coast and in the West Indies. The Navy determined that its destroyers were not capable of extended cruises in the North Atlantic and asked that the Coast Guard conduct these patrols. The Coast Guard agreed and assigned the Treasury Class cutters to conduct the patrols, which were called "Grand Banks Patrols." The cutters' orders were to identify foreign men-of-war, be on the lookout for any "un-neutral" activities, and report anything of an unusual nature. Each cruise lasted approximately two weeks. The cutters were also ordered to illuminate their ensign by searchlight at all times, and prefaced all signals with Coast Guard identification.

INGHAM departed Seattle for her new home port of Boston on 21 September 1939 and arrived there on 15 October 1939. She departed on her first Grand Banks Patrol on 11 November 1939. She returned to Boston on 24 November 1939 and departed again on 11 December 1939, returning on 22 December. When the Grand Banks patrols were discontinued on 27 January 1940 INGHAM was then assigned to duty on weather patrols. These had only recently been implemented on a suggestion by then CDR Edward H. "Iceberg" Smith, LCDR George B. Gelly, and a more influential suggestion by President Franklin Roosevelt. Since the war had stopped the flow of weather data from merchant ships, the Coast Guard drew the duty of maintaining a continuous weather patrol consisting of 327-foot cutters at two stations in the mid-Atlantic located as follows: Station No. 1, 35 38' N x 53 21' W and Station No. 2, 37 44' N x 41 13' W. Here the cutters steamed continuously within a 100 square mile area from the center of the station with each patrol lasting approximately 21 days. Each cutter embarked meteorologists from the Weather Bureau who made observations with radiosondes and balloons, and the cutters provided Pan American Airways Boeing 314 flying boats: Yankee Clipper, Dixie Clipper, and American Clipper, with weather and position reports and transmitted radio signals to allow the planes to take accurate bearings.

INGHAM departed on her first weather observation cruise on 26 February 1940, taking station on Weather Station No. 2. Here she continued her work of identifying foreign-flag vessels, reported on the weather, and furnishing the "Clippers" with necessary meteorological information. As on all cruises, INGHAM's radiomen maintained a double watch when the "Clippers" passed overhead on the transatlantic run and furnished these tremendous flying boats with necessary meteorological information. She returned to Boston on 27 March 1940 and steamed for Weather Station No. 2 on 2 May 1940, returning once again to Boston on 27 May. She then steamed to Weather Station No. 3 on 2 July 1940 and after completing her patrol she steamed to Lynnhaven Roads for target practice, arriving there on 31 July 1940.

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