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Narcissus II (WAGL-238)


A daffodil whose blossoms have a short corona and are borne separately; a beautiful youth in Greek legend who, after pining away for love of his own image, was transformed into the flower which bears his name. 


(WAGL-238: displacement 355; length 122'2"; beam 27'; draft 7'; speed 10.3 knots; complement 43) 

Narcissus (WAGL-238) was built for the Coast Guard by John H. Mathis Company of Camden, N.J., and commissioned in 1939. 

Narcissus served as one of three 122-foot bay and sound tenders built just prior to the transfer of the Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard, the others being Maple (WAGL-234) and Zinnia (WAGL-255). They were the first tenders to be constructed primarily by welding. The principal improvements of their design over preceding designs included seaworthiness, derrick capacity, stability, the size of the buoy deck, their power for propulsion, and their maneuverability. Narcissus initially serviced aids to navigation, performed search and rescue operations, enforced the law, and operated as an icebreaker at Wilmington, N.C. Narcissus shifted her home port to Portsmouth, Va., on 28 February 1941. 

Executive Order 8929 of 1 November 1941 transferred the Coast Guard to the Navy. Through the war years Narcissus continued to serve as a large inland buoy tender out of Portsmouth, tending aids to navigation on Delaware Bay and the Delaware River, and repairing and extending antisubmarine nets at Cape Lookout, N.C. Following World War II on 1 January 1946, the Coast Guard returned to the Treasury Department. The tender remained in an active status, and continued servicing aids to navigation, as well as search and rescue and law enforcement duties as required. Narcissus searched for survivors from tug Indian in the James River, Va., on 16 October 1954. The next year (12–18 September 1955) the veteran vessel patrolled the President’s Cup Regatta. On 24 January 1956, she evacuated a crewman from Coast Guard cutter CG-23067 off Smith Point Light at the mouth of the Potomac River. Narcissus collided with Liberian motor vessel World Challenger while moored at Portsmouth and sustained damage topside, on 1 July 1961. 

She was decommissioned on 11 March 1971 after being sold to Guyana for $83,000 through the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Narcissus remained “In Commission, Special” status and manned by a Coast Guard crew under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Neal Mahan, USCG. Narcissus set out from Portsmouth on a risky voyage of more than 3,000 miles to Georgetown, Guyana (9 April–5 May 1971). “The ship’s stability,” Mahan noted in his report, “as well as its ability to take a sea in excess of four feet were of major concern.” The crew gamely persevered, participated in two search and rescues en route, and reached Georgetown unscathed. Following the tug’s arrival, Mrs. Doreen Chung, the wife of Guyanese President Arthur Chung, rechristened Narcissus as Maripa, the name of a waterfall on the Mazaruni River. The Americans also delivered over 4,000 pounds of books that had been donated by the Navy’s “Project Handclasp” and carried on board Narcissus

Rewritten and expanded by Mark L. Evans
20 March 2017

Published: Mon Mar 20 09:51:34 EDT 2017