Sea History 130 - Spring 2010

Page 32

Man and Machine: LTJG Charles Eliot Winslow and His Heroic Rescues in Command of the Coast Guard Cutter Argo by W illiam H . Thiesen, PhD


hen terro rists attacked the Wo rld Trade Cen ter o n Septem ber 11 'h, 2001 , nearly one millio n people we re stranded in lower Manhattan, desperate to get our of the ci ty. The sheer number of people,

Wo rld Wa r II . In 1933, Argo (WPC-100) became the first in her class of 165 -foo r US Coast G uard cutters to be put into service for Prohi bition enforcement. When the United Stares entered Wo rld Wa r II, rhe Coast

M IVSi gh rseer XII, a Circle Line Cruises sightseeing vessel, ferried stranded New Yorkers from Man hattan across the H udson after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11 th. When Circle Line Cruises acquired Argo, they modified herfor passenger service and equipped her with eight General Motors 6-7 1 Quad diesel engines (four per shaft) and Falk reverse/reduction gears with individual hydraulically operated clutches for each engine.

amid the co nfusion and terro r of that mo rning, wo uld have overwhelmed rh e em ergency personnel and age ncies had it no r been fo r the immediate respo nse of dozens of commercial rugs, ferries, and passe nge r vessels, which arrived o n the sce ne to transpo rt people across rhe rive r to New Jersey. New York's M/V Sightseer XII, a passe nger to ur boar, was am o ng rhe vessels rhar came to their rescue. Due in part to Sightseer XII and the selfless effo rts of its captain and crew, the U nited Stares Coast Gua rd recognized rhe vessel's owner, C ircle Line Sigh tseeing To urs, with rhe 9/ 11 Medal, an ho nor bestowed by the US D epartment of Transpo rtati o n. This vessel was particularly well-suited fo r the task, as it had a lo ng histo ry of performing successful rescue operations fro m its days as rhe US Coast G uard cutter Argo during


wa r clouds fo rming on the horizo n in 1940, he enlisted in rhe US Navy. In 194 1, at the age of thirty-o ne, W inslow found himself called ro ac ti ve duty with th e rare of seam an second-class. In his first assignment, he served o ut of Bosto n aboard USS Puffin (AMc-29), a fo rmer fishing vessel rhar had been conve rted into a minesweeper. In November 194 1, he rook the co mpetitive examinatio ns for an offi cer's commission in th e Coast Guard Reserve. H e passed , and by D ecember h ad resigned from rhe navy ro acce pt an ensign's commission in th e US C oast Guard. In la te 1942, after serving as executive officer on rhe wea ther ship Menemsha (AG-39), W inslow received appointment ro rhe anti-submarine warfa re school in M iami , Florida. U pon his graduatio n, rhe Coast G uard promoted Winslow to lieutenant junior grade and ass igned him ro th e Argo. Beginning in February 1943, W inslow served as senior watch offi cer and naviga tion officer on board the cutter, bur he rose rapidly through the ship's offi cer ranks and was pro mo red to executive officer of Argo in April, serving co ncurrently as the ship's g unnery offi cer. After o nly two mo nths as rhe cutter's executive officer, rhe Coast Guard pro moted Winslow to commanding officer ofArgo, a position he LT} G Charles Eliot Winslow

G uard conscrip ted her and her sister ships ro esco rt commercial vessels alo ng the East Coast. Argo carried a crew of seven ty-fi ve m en and p rovided a solid platfo rm fo r radar and sonar equipment, an armam ent of twe nty-millimeter and three-in ch guns, as well as depth charges and anti-submarine wea pons. As convoy escorts, these Coas t G uard cutters typically rook up station o n no rthbound and southbound co nvoys, tracked underwater contacts, and attacked anything that resembled the so nar signature of a U- boar. During the las t three years of the war, Argo's fa re wo uld be closely linked ro rhar of its captain, C harles Eliot W inslow, wh o grew up alo ng rhe shores of mid coasr Maine, bur in the 1930s was wo rki ng as a successful paint salesman in Bosto n. W inslow held a deep sense of du ty and , with


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