ISS3 2017

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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the Navy and other federal agencies. But contemporary events convinced American political leaders to scrap this plan. In April 1912, the Royal Mail Ship T ITANIC struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic. The accidental sinking of this "unsinkable" passenger liner and the consequent loss of life shocked the public on both sides of the Atlantic, initiating the 1913 Safety of Life at Sea Convention in England and the establishment of the International Ice Patrol. Originally supported by the Navy, this patrol tracked icebergs and reported their location to ships in the North Atlantic. Soon after the establishment of the International Ice Patrol, the Navy could no longer spare ships for patrols, so the RCS assumed the duty. In 1914, another Service-related event took place when war erupted in Europe. As the conflict spread to other parts of the globe, President Woodrow Wilson saw the benefit of retaining the RCS as an armed sea service. And, when combined with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, the assets and personnel of the two agencies would prove effective in guarding the nation's shores both by land and at sea. On Jan. 28, 1915, Wilson signed the "Act to Create the Coast Guard," combining the Life- Saving Service and the RCS into one agency. The act went into effect on Jan. 30, establishing the United States Coast Guard as a military agency that would serve as a branch of the Navy during conflicts. After the Coast Guard's formation, it became clear that the Service would play a vital role in future naval operations. From 1915 through early 1917, the Navy and Coast Guard collaborated to develop mobilization plans transferring the Service from the Treasury Department to the Navy in time of war. In early 1915, Bertholf began meeting with his Navy counterparts and developed a twenty- page report that evolved into the confidential document "Mobilization of the Coast Guard when Required to Operate as a Part of the Navy." This document included the Coast Guard's "Mobilization Plan No. 2" for combining the two services in peacetime and "Mobilization Plan No. 1" for combining the two services when war was declared. Soon after the Navy transmitted the April 6th "Plan one, acknowledge" message, the Coast Guard answered the call. For example, at 6:00 pm, San Francisco- based cutter MCCULLOCH received telephone instructions from her division commander to put into effect Mobilization Plan No. 1. By 7:25 pm, the cutter received a similar "ALCUT (all cutters)" message from Coast Guard Headquarters. In response, the MCCULLOCH transmitted to the local Navy commander a coded radiogram reading "Commanding Officer, U.S.S. OREGON. Mobilization orders received. Report MCCULLOCH for duty under your command." In addition to MCCULLOCH, nearly fifty cutters and 280 shore installations came under Navy control. World War I proved the first true test of the Coast Guard's military capability. During the conflict, the Service performed its traditional missions of search and rescue, maritime interdiction, law enforcement and humanitarian response. Meanwhile, the Service undertook new missions of shore patrol, port security, marine safety, and convoy escort duty while playing a vital role in naval aviation, troop transport operations and overseas naval missions. By war's end, these assignments had become a permanent part of the Coast Guard's defense readiness mission. The war cemented the Service's role as a military agency. Nearly 9,000 Coast Guard men and women would participate in the war. This number included over 200 Coast Guard officers, many of whom served as warship commanders, troop ship captains, training camp commandants and naval air station commanders. In all, Coast Guard heroes received two Distinguished Service Medals, eight Gold Life- Saving Medals, almost a dozen foreign honors and nearly fifty Navy Cross Medals, dozens more than were awarded to Coast Guardsmen in World War II. World War I also served as a baptism of fire for the Coast Guard. During the war's nearly nineteen months, the Service would lose almost two hundred men and five ships. These ships included two combat losses. On Aug. 6, 1918, U-140 sank the Diamond Shoals Lightship after her crew transmitted to shore the location of the marauding enemy submarine, but no lives were lost. However, on Sept. 26, 1918, after escorting a convoy Treasury Secretary William McAdoo Coast Guard Commandant Ellsworth Bertholf Issue 3 • 2017 � RESERVIST 37

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