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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Manasquan

 

An inlet off the coast of New Jersey.

 

(AG‑36: dp. 2,580; l. 261'; b. 43'6"; dr. 18'10" 10 k.; cpl. 58; a. 1 4", 4 .50 cal. mg.; 2 dcp.)

 

Manasquan (AG‑36) was built in 1918 as Lake Catherine by Toledo Shipbuilding Co., Toledo, Ohio; taken over by the U.S. Shipping Board at New York City 4 October 1918; and commissioned the same day for duty with NOTS, Lt. Comdr. Richard F. McNabb, USNRF, in command.

 

After steaming to Norfolk and back to load cargo, Lake Catherine departed New York in convoy 19 October and steamed to Rochefort, France, where she arrived 10 November. Assigned to coaling duty, she operated between British and French ports until 24 February 1919 when she arrived Rotterdam, Holland. Two days later she began service for the U.S. Food Administration. While en route to Danzig, Germany, she rescued nine survivors 3 March after the German trawler Berthold struck a mine and sank.

 

Lake Catherine continued food relief runs until 5 July when she departed Barry, Wales, for the United States. Loaded with general military cargo, she arrived Now York 8 August. She decommissioned 15 August and was returned to the USSB the same day.

 

Subsequently, Lake Catherine resumed merchant service. She was renamed Oscar J. Lingeman in 1926 and Aetna in 1937. Aetna was purchased by the Maritime Commission from her owner. Mid‑West Transportation Co., Inc., Bay City, Mich., in 1941; transferred to the Navy 14 October 1941; renamed Manasquan (AG‑36) 15 October 1941; converted for use as a weather patrol ship by Bethlehem Steel Co., East Boston, Mass.; and commissioned under loan to the U.S. Coast Guard 2 April 1942.

 

Manasquan served the important but little praised weather patrol stations in the stormy, U‑boat‑infested North Atlantic. Equipped with special meteorological instruments, she plied her assigned patrol areas out of Boston, and Argentia, Newfoundland. Braving dangers of the sea and submarines, she operated in isolation for weeks at a time to collect valuable weather data used in forecasting weather for the Atlantic area, north Africa, and Axis‑occupied. Western Europe. Realizing the strategic importance of data collected by weather patrol ships such as Manasquan, the chief of the U.S. Weather Bureau wrote during World War II: “...the weather reports from these vessels were among the most vital meteorological information for war operations of the United Nations....The difficulty and hardships of service on these station vessels was fully recognized but the value of their reports more than compensated for those difficulties, and the men so serving were performing duties of high priority in the war effort.”

 

In addition, Manasquan took part in the initial at‑sea testing of loran (long‑range navigation) system, which became of inestimable value both to naval and merchant ships and to military and commercial aircraft. As a highly accurate and reliable electronics position finding system, loran emerged to become a revolutionary navigation aid in all kinds of weather and at great distances from land.

 

As a result of experiments conducted by MIT’s Radiation Laboratory, by the Bell Telephone Laboratory, and by the National Defense Research Committee during the final months of American neutrality in 1941, the impetus for the nurturement, and full development occurred in the hectic months after Pearl Harbor. Under Rear Adm. Julius A. Furer, coordinator of research and development for the Secretary of the Navy, the Navy provided “active and aggressive sponsorship” for the project. Capt. Lawrence M. Harding, USCG, who later coined the word loran, played an important role in the research aspects of its development.

 

By June 1942 the system was ready for environmental testing. From mid‑June to mid‑July Manasquan, equipped with special receiving instruments, successfully carried out the first shipboard tests which proved the feasibility and practicality of the system. As a result of these tests, construction and completion of the important seven‑unit northwest Atlantic chain, which extended from Delaware to Greenland, was completed in less than a year.

 

Manasquan continued weather patrol duty during the remainder of World War II. The Navy transferred her to the U.S. Coast Guard 22 October 1943, and she continued to serve as Manasquan (WAG‑273). Her name was struck from the Navy list 30 October 1943. Following the end of the war, she was sold 11 March 1946.