United States Coast Guard - 200th Anniversary


The Coast Guard cutter Seneca places a damage control crew on board the torpedoed tanker Wellington in an attempt to keep it from sinking on September 16, 1918.

Seneca served in the Coast Guard for twenty-eight years and rendered some of its most important service during World War I. In April I~7, the entire fleet of Coast Guard vessels was transferred to the Navy Department when the United States entered the war. Seneca, armed with a battery of four three-inch guns, began escorting convoys with the Atlantic Patrol Fleet in September. In this role, the cutter protected merchant ships from German submarine attacks.

The cutter made over two dozen Atlantic crossings. On its twenty-sixth convoy trip Seneca was escorting twenty-one ships to Gibralter. On September 16, ~ a German submarine torpedoed Wellington, one of the ships in the convoy. Seneca quickly steamed to Wellington, sighted the enemy submarine and fired three shots at it. The German craft submerged before being struck but the cutter began dropping depth charges and firing additional shots to damage it or to chase it away.

Wellington, was severely damaged and First Lieutenant Fletcher W. Brown was sent from Seneca to survey the damage. Brown and nineteen volunteers boarded Wellington and took charge of the ship. Most of Wellington's crew refused to stay and the Coast Guardsmen were left to man the pumps and the guns. Brown's crew and the remaining merchant seamen kept the flooding under control until a storm developed and the seas became extremely rough. The change in the weather decreased the chances of the ship's survival, and Brown mustered all the men at the remaining lifeboat except for the radio operator and three men on the pumps. Brown decided to launch the lifeboat and have it ready in case the ship suddenly began to sink. Several men lowered the boat into the rough seas, but after placing it in the water the heavy weather carried it away from Wellington against all the efforts of those in the boat.

Brown remained on board with eleven Coast Guardsmen and five merchant sailors. They had no lifeboat on a sinking ship in stormy seas. The radio operator began signalling for help while others in the crew signaled with flares from the deck. The remaining men began to construct rafts as the bow settled . The destroyer Warrington answered the rockets as Wellington began to list rapidly. Lieutenant Brown ordered the ship to be abandoned. Shortly thereafter the boilers exploded, and Wellington quickly sank before Warrington arrived. Eleven of Seneca's men died. All of the Coast Guardsmen living and dead were awarded the Navy Cross. British Rear Admiral Grant remarked that "Lt. Brown and the gallant volunteers set an example worthy of the highest traditions of any Service or any Nation." This World War I event represents the high standards of the United States Coast Guard throughout its 200 years of service.

Artist: David K. Stone

David Karl Stone was educated at the University of Oregon and the Arts Center of Los Angeles.

He was also a First Lieutenant in the U.S Army Mr Stone has designed 12 U.S postage stamps, portraits of 40 U.S Presidents and 66 Shapers of America. He has done illustrations for more than 60 books, most major magarines and leading advertising agencies. He is a past president of The Society of Illustrators and a board member of the Graphic Artists Guild His painting commissions have been in Saudi Arabia, SpaTh, Germany Italy Iceland, Vietnam, Panama and nine of the U.S. states. His clients have included the U.S Air Force, the U.S Postal Service, U.S Park Sennce, U.S. Corps of Engineers, the Unicover Corporation and many other corporations both in the U.S and abroad.