The Coast Guard At War

Lost Cutters

Historical Section, Public Information Division
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
May 1, 1949

CGC Bedloe (WSC-128)
CGC Jackson (WSC-142)

Two Cutters Founder off Cape Hatteras

Two Coast Guard cutters, the CGC's Bedloe (ex-Antietam) and Jackson, foundered in heavy weather off Cape Hatteras on 14 September 1944. The cutters had gone to the assistance of a Liberty Ship which had been torpedoed off the North Carolina coast and almost driven ashore in a late hurricane, but she had weathered both blows and was towed to Norfolk with no casualties among her 40 man crew and only slight damage to her cargo. The two cutters were each 125 feet in length and of 220 tons each. The commanding officer of the Bedloe was Lt. A.S. Hess, and of the Jackson, Lt. (jg) N.D. Call. The Bedloe had 5 officers and 33 men on board when sunk, of whom 2 officers and 24 men were lost. The Jackson had 5 officers and 36 men on board and 2 officers and 19 men were lost.

Life Rafts Spotted by Planes

Twelve survivors from the Bedloe and nineteen from the Jackson were spotted on life rafts, those from the Bedloe being spotted by a patrol plane and picked up an hour later by a Navy minesweeper. Those from the Jackson were spotted by a Coast Guard plane from Elizabeth City, N.C., and picked up by a 36 foot cutter from the Oregon Inlet Lifeboat Station, 15 miles away. The former had been in the water 51 hours and the latter 58 hours. The Coast Guard planes landed in the swells, a plane next to each liferaft, and crew members dived into the sea and hauled semi-conscious men onto the wings of the tossing planes, where first aid was administered. A Navy blimp dropped emergency rations. Guided by PBM's and another Navy blimp, the Coast Guard cutter made directly for the Jackson's survivors and quickly hauled them aboard. Near the shore, the men were transferred aboard a Navy vessel, where they were treated by a physician until Coast Guard PBM's landed and flew them to Norfolk for more hospitalization. An intensive search was instituted for the 48 officers and men reported missing in the twin disaster, including the 23 year old skipper of the Jackson, Lt. (jg) N.D. Call.

Crews of Each Cutter Looked to Other for Rescue

Survivors said 37 officers and men originally clung to the three Jackson rafts, but 17 died during the second night from exposure and exhaustion. Added to the torment of parched throats, crowded rafts and heavy seas during their 58 hour vigil were sharks and "Portuguese men-of-war," multi-tailed marine pests whose stingers continually lashed the bodies of the storm tossed men. Ironically enough, crew members of each vessel pinned their hopes on rescue by the other, unaware of the like doom of each ship. Lt. Hess of the Bedloe explained: "Skippers often think alike. I was trying to work our way out to sea a bit to avoid the heavy swell hitting near the shore and I figured the Jackson was doing likewise and would be somewhere in the vicinity."

Bedloe Goes Under

Struck four times by the towering waves, the Bedloe tossed like a matchstick in the ocean before going down. All 38 officers and crew men safely abandoned ship and at least 30 were able to obtain a hold on the lifecrafts. However, the strain of fighting the hurricane aboard, plus the ordeal of hanging to liferafts for 51 hours, proved too much for most of the men and only 12 were able to hang on until rescued. One man slid under the water only minutes before the rescue craft came into sight.

End of the Jackson

Borne to the top of a huge swell, the Jackson was struck by two swells and rolled over until the mast dipped water. As the swells subsided, the ship righted and was hit by another high sea and turned on her side a second time. Struggling out of that, the vessel was carried high by a third sea. It seemed then, survivors said, that she hung in mid-air for seconds; then the wind seized her, turned her on her side and completely over. She disappeared under a huge wave. Next day, two of the survivors had tried to swim ashore which they thought was 10 miles away. After swimming about 3 hours they realized they were making little headway and decided to return. Turning back, one of them saw a shark about 30 feet away headed for the other. The shark was more than six feet long but passed him without harm.

"We Made It"

William W. McCreedy, boatswain's mate 1/c from the Oregon inlet Lifeboat Station, who assisted in the rescue of the survivors from the Jackson said the first thing he saw was a man doubled up in a small raft, his eyes resembling "a couple of blue dots in a beefsteak." "He flashed a beautiful smile that couldn't be missed," McCreedy contineud, "I felt I had looked at something a man sees once in a lifetime -- sort of thought I had come to the edge of heaven. Then, as though his last will to fight had been lost when he saw us, he jumped into the water. The radioman grabbed him and held him in the raft. I went overboard to help and the three of us dragged the raft down. The unconscious man's foot was twisted in the lines, but I cut him free and we put him in the boat." Just before reaching shore, the man reached, stroked McCreedy's face and mumbled "We made it." Then he died.

CGC Bedloe
NESSENGER, William T., Jr. Ens
BAUER, Roderick John CBM
CLEMENTS, Robert Wheeler MoMM3c
CUNTAN, George Sea1c
ENOCH, Paul Clark MoMM2c
GILL, David Ernest Sea1c
GRIMES, Mavis E. Sea2c
HERBST, George Edward SoMM2c
LEAR, Jack SoM2c
LINEK, Thomas Joseph, Jr. MoMM2c
LOFTON, James Henderson Sea1c
MANTANI, Rudolph RM2c
McCUSKER, Leo Joseph Sea1c
MULHERN, Ray Joseph, Jr. Sea1c
MYLES, Hugh L., Sr. Sea1c
POGORZELSKI, Charles Julius RM3c
RILEY, Daniel Webster St1c
TILL, Donald MoMM2c
VISSMAN, Paul Louis Sp3c
WEBER, Thomas Jay Cox
WILDUNG, Lea William RT3c
Bodies Recovered
PETERS, Mairice W. Ens
BERGREN, Ernest GM3c
FRANZINA, Rort Carl Sea1c
VERNIER, Norman Robert Sea2c

CGC Jackson
CALL, N.D. Lieut (jg)
ZIMPEL, Joseph W. Ens
CONDON, William Timothy MM2c
CULLEN, Lawrence F. PhM2c
FLYNN, Joseph S.L. Y1c
GRIFFIN, James Arvie St3c
HADEN, Mensel Richard Sea1c
KARP, Hyman Albert Sea2c
KROPF, John Hugh MoMM3c
MICHALSKI, Jerome Joseph Sea1c
McCUE, Edward James, Sr. F1c
NICHOLS, Riachrd Carroll Sea1c
PARKER, James Augustus RT3c
PATTON, Robert Austin Cox
POSHINSKE, William Patrick GM3c
SNYDER, Arthur J.F. RM2c
TILLER, Jennings Rufus Sea2c
WATERS, William F. Mach
WELSH, Denver Carlyle QM3c
DeLeROI, Edwin Frederick BM2c

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation