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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Nike

 

The goddess of Victory.

 

(WPC–112: dp. 337; l. 165’; b. 25’ 3”; dr. 9’ 6”; s. 16 k.; cpl. 50; a. 1 3”, 2 20mm.)

 

Nike, built for the Coast Guard by Marietta Manufacturing Co., Point Pleasant, W. Va., was launched 7 July 1934. Commissioned as a large cruising cutter, she assumed permanent station at Pascagoula, Miss., where she commenced patrol and rescue operations in the late summer of 1934.

 

The cutter transferred to Gulfport, Miss. early in 1941. With the outbreak of hostilities, the Coast Guard transferred to the Navy in accordance with Executive Order 8929 of 1 November 1941. Nike was one of three cutters rushed to Key West Fla. in the early weeks of the war. In the months before an effective coastal “dim-out” was inaugurated, Nazi U-boats lay offshore and sank clearly-silhouetted coastal shipping targets. The Gulf Sea Frontier, which included the Florida and Gulf coasts and parts of the Bahamas and Cuba, was only lightly defended during the earl stages of the war. Initial defenses consisted of the three Nast Guard cutters Nike, Nemesis, and Vigilant, together with nineteen unarmed Coast Guard planes and fourteen lightly armed Army planes.

 

Four ships were torpedoed in four days in late February 1942. Forty-one were sent to the bottom by hostile submarine action off the Florida and Gulf coasts in May. As sinkings mounted alarmingly in Gulf Sea Frontier waters, American defensive strength in the area began to increase rapidly and then overwhelmingly.

 

Nike was active in the Gulf Sea Frontier area throughout the war, operating out of Key West. She was patrolling as far north as the Delaware coast when she rescued forty survivors from the United Fruit freighter San Gil 3 February 1942. Three days later she picked up the entire thirty-eight man crew of the American tanker China Arrow, which had been torpedoed off the Maryland coast. The tanker crew had spent two days in lifeboats before a Coast Guard aircraft had alerted the cutter. Nike took the survivors to Lewes, Del. before resuming her patrol duties. She was again on the scene to rescue nine survivors from the torpedoed Portrero Del Llano 14 May.

 

Once peace returned, the Coast Guard returned to the Treasury Department in accordance with Executive Order 9666 of 1 January 1946. Cutter Nike resumed patrol and rescue duties in Gulf coastal waters, operating out of Gulfport, Miss. She served as a medium endurance cutter in Gulf waters until she decommissioned 5 December 1964 at Orange, Tex. She was sold 19 May to H. Mitchell, Haworth, N.J.

 

Nike received one Battle Star for World War II Service.