Ocean Station Patrols

Knowing where SEBAGO was at any given time can be difficult to determine.  When possible I'll insert verifiable Ocean Station patrol data to this table:

OS Patrol Data
Arrival Date Departure Date Station Outbound Liberty Homeward Liberty
January 10, 1948 January 21, 1948 Alpha    
March 14, 1953 April 1953 Alpha    
April 18, 1964 May 23, 1965 Echo    
September 1, 1965 September 28, 1965 Echo    
April 7, 1967 May 14, 1967 Echo    
June 28, 1967 July 21, 1967 Bravo    
November 1967 November 1967 Charlie    
May 28, 1968 June 19, 1968 Echo    
August 5, 1968 August 27, 1968 Echo    
January 18, 1971 February 7, 1971 Delta    
March 30, 1971 April 22, 1971 Echo    
June 25, 1971 July 14, 1971 Delta    
September 18, 1971 October 7, 1971 Bravo    
December 2, 1971** December 17,1971 Delta Bermuda  

** Final patrol. Returned to Pensacola 1/72 and decommissioned. 

MATS Flight 6396 Ditches - SEBAGO Rescues Crew

L/R: Lt Bush (Pilot), BM1 Levy Barco (SEB coxswain), EN3 James Crawford (SEB boat crew), Gerald Williamson (SEB boat crew), S/Sgt James B Manion (MATS Navigator), Lt John Jakel (MATS Co-pilot), 1st Lt George H Bahrens (MATS Navigator), Lt Henry Keene (Sebago)
Photographer unknown
L/R: Cdr Coffin with Bush, Behrans, Manion and Jakel.
Photographer unknown

On April 27, 1949, Cutter SEBAGO was 'On Station' at 4YD, a location of which many of us are familiar. An Air Force C-47, designated MATS Flight 6396, was returning to the United States from Europe when it checked in the Ocean Station 'Dog' to report it had a problem with fuel and was ditching. The aircraft was attached to the 1600 Air Transport Group at Westover Air Force Base at Chicopee, Massachusetts.

Complete reports from the 1949 incident are rare, so we only get the highlights, but the crew of Cutter SEBAGO stood by as the Douglas built transport (BuNo 43-16396) performed a near perfect approach and water landing near the lee side of the ship. Small boats were already in the water, awaiting the aircraft, and within minutes the four men of MATS Flight 6396 were aboard SEBAGO. The crew were identified as Lt Robert R Bush (Pilot), Lt John Jakel (Co-pilot), 1st Lt George H Behrans (Navigator), and S/Sgt James B Manion (Radio operator).

The crew were transported to Argentia Naval Station in Newfoundland.

Years later BM1 Levy S Barco sat down for an audio interview and he related this about the SEBAGO rescue of the MATS aircraft:

"...the engines were going out on him.  So he radioed that he was turning back to us and that he was going to ditch in the North Atlantic ocean. And I was in the boat and we picked him up. One man jumped out and he got in the life raft, and by that time it was dark. We turned the search light on him, and every time we turned the search light on him he'd yell. We picked him up first and then came back to the plane to pick up the other three men. 

Neither one of them was hurt, one of them had bumped his head when she hit the water at 90 miles an hour. And they were surprised how strong she was, 'cause she stay afloat as long as she did. I think she stayed afloat nine minutes. That was unusual as she was a land plane. And when you break the water, usually you break a lot of seams and she stayed afloat for nine minutes. And for that I got a letter of commendation, you know, just saying that you did a good job and that stuff."

Thanks to Barry Barco, son of the late BMC Barco, for sharing the transcribed interview with us.  He is going to help with some more data concerning this incident, but if you have anything please send me an email message. 

Recommendation For Gyro Stabilizers


12 January 1949
File: 607

Address reply to
Commanding Officer
Pier 18, Stapleton, SINY

From: Commanding Officer, SEBAGO (WPG-42)
To: The Commandant (ENE)
Via: Commander, 3rd CG District (eme)

Subj. Excessive rolling; installation gyro stabilizers, recommendation for

1. Whenever two or more officers or men attached to the 255 foot class meet, or visit Headquarters or the YARD, the topic of vehement conversation invariably becomes that concerning the excessive rolling of these vessels. In discussions at Headquarters and elsewhere, but particularly at Headquarters, the undersigned officer has found that one of the following reactions is most generally encountered, viz: (a) Contemptuous amusement, (b) Short-lived sympathy, (c) A shrug - "What can I do about it?", (d) Incredulity, (e) Outright disbelief. One Headquarter's officer recently simply cut short the discussion by saying, "It floats doesn't it?" apparently refusing to carry this thought to its logical conclusion that so also do corks, barges, buoys, apples - indeed, any substance whose specific gravity is less than that of water, most of which would hardly be considered as vessels on weather patrol station in the North Atlantic Ocean.

2. The undersigned officer has put in well over twelve years of sea duty all in the Atlantic and Arctic, aboard practically every class of vessel employed by the Coast Guard. He, along with many others who had not seen duty aboard OWASCO class cutters, took the assertions (concerning the rolling) of those personnel attached to them with a grain of salt. Now, after more than four months aboard the SEBAGO with two patrols on Station Charlie, this officer is convinced that the case has been understated. This vessel rolls more deeply and with a more irritating, nasty, lurching motion than any other vessel in which he has served. The vessel is so tender she seems to abhor being on an even keel. She will roll up to 5ยบ or more at a pier. At sea she is never still or comfortable, unless underway at good speed in a relatively calm sea. Her rolling is out of all proportion to the weather and sea conditions. After a few weeks at sea, it becomes an obsession in attempting to settle her down even for meals.

3. It is difficult for those ashore or attached to reasonably steady vessels to visualize the effects of a continuous lurching and staggering roll for a period of five consecutive weeks. One never "gets used to it." Every movable article is always tied down, and even so, occasionally carelessness leads to breakage and loss. All the little simple things one does ashore without a second thought assume proportions consuming major effort: typing, taking inventories, filling out reports, eating, cooking (!), trying to relax or sleep, going to the toilet with water in the bowl slopping and spraying over one, taking a shower, computing weather data with slide rules, clipboards, etc., etc., slipping and skidding about. Always it is necessary to hold on, with hands, knees, body. Even moving about the ship from one hand hold to another is an effort that frequently seems not worth it.

4. It is of course obvious that the equipment, machinery, and electronic gear suffer, not only through being subjected to continuous abnormal strain, but also due to some lackadaisical watch-standing. Lack of proper maintenance, and much accidental damage. There is a tangible loss in efficiency in all hands due in part to the above mentioned reasons, and in part to the "oh hell with it!" attitude which inevitably is the result of rationalizing one's mental outlook in an inescapably distasteful position. Add to this the continual loss of men (and not necessarily first-hitchers) who take their discharge rather than reenlist for more OWASCO class duty, and one sees a steady lowering of efficiency and accuracy.

5. In addition to the above, this officer feels, although it would be difficult to prove statistically, that through lowered resistance to colds and other infections, as well as continuously half-seasick men, due to a distinct lack of proper rest and food intake, further large reductions in efficiency and accuracy must be reckoned.

6. In view of the possibility that very little data exists concerning the behavior of the 255 foot class, the undersigned officer kept a faithful log of the rolling of the SEBAGO together with weather data for an entire patrol. Pertinent parts are transcribed herewith:
Dec 12
Dec 14
Dec 20
Dec 20
Dec 20
Dec 25
Dec 25
Dec 25
1949: Jan 2
Jan 3
Jan 3
Jan 5
Jan 5
Jan 6 Date Time GTC Place Course True Speed-knots Wind-knots Sea Roll-degrees
1948-Dec 11 2000 Ambrose LV 088 16 SXE 5 0 5
1400 Georges Bank 058 16 EXS5 0 5
1000 Placentia Bay 043 15 W 45-50 NW 4 30-40
1200 Station Charlie 050 13 SW 35 SW 4 10-25
2000 Station Charlie 050 13 SW 20 SW 4 15-30
2400 Station Charlie 140 0 SE 20 SW 2 20-35
1100 Station Charlie 280 5 SW 30 SW 4 lurching 30-35
1400 Station Charlie 090 0 SW 30 SW 4 lurching 20-30
2000 Station Charlie 040 0 SW 22 SW 4 15 occ. 20-35
1900 Station Charlie 090 0 SW 40 SW 4 lurching snap 15-20
1100 Station Charlie 090 0 WXN 30 Confused 4 Monotonous lurching 15-20
1400 Station Charlie 090 0 WSW 20 Confused 4 Same roll, 15-20
1100 Station Charlie 290 5 NW 20 WNW 2-1 Tiring snap & lurch 20-30
1400 Station Charlie 090 0 WXN 15-20 WNW 2 Monotonous insistent lurching 15-30
2000 Station Charlie 090 0 SW 20 NW 1 Peevishly & erratically 15-25

The period of the roll throughout averaged 10 seconds, increasing to about 14 seconds only when all ballast was pumped prior to entering Argentia.

7. In view of the unquestionably excessive rolling of this class cutter, it is earnestly recommended that gyro-stabilizers be installed as a class alteration. It is felt that, whatever the cost, the Coast Guard would save actual dollars and cents in increased efficiency and accuracy of personnel, fewer major repairs and shore maintenance, and, of equal importance, salvaging trained men who are presently looking to discharge and less fatiguing if less remunerative occupations.

8. In view of the diversified opinions concerning the rolling of OWASCO class cutters, and with the hope of getting most of these opinions and ideas in writing before the responsible officers at Headquarters, this letter was read for comment by all officers on board the SEBAGO. Their comments and ideas, some of which are not in concurrence with the recommendation for installation of a gyro-stabilizer, are enclosed. The undersigned officer agrees with practically all remarks, believing that these ships are the most inhuman ever utilized by the Coast Guard.

E. A. Coffin, Jr.

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