The first and second ships named Grand Rapids were named for the city in Michigan.
(PF-31: displacement 1,430; length 303'11"; beam 37'6"; draft 13'8"; speed 20 knots; complement 176; armament 3 3-inch, 9 20 millimeter, 2 depth charge tracks, 8 depth charge projectors, 1 depth charge projector (hedgehog); class Tacoma; type S2-S2-AQ1)
The first Grand Rapids (PF-31) -- originally projected as a gunboat, PG-139 -- was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (M.C. Hull 1442) on 30 July 1943 at Superior, Wis., by Walter Butler Shipbuilders, Inc.; launched on 10 September 1943; and sponsored by Mrs. Ted Booth. Manned by a skeleton crew from the U.S. Coast Guard Training Station, Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, N.Y., Grand Rapids departed Duluth, Minn., on 7 June 1944. After transiting Lake Superior and Lake Michigan and proceeding down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, she reached Plaquemine, La., on 21 June, putting in to the Kansas City Bridge Co. yard for outfitting and conversion to a weather station vessel. She proceeded thence to Avondale [La.] Marine Ways in August 1944 for fitting out under the supervision of the Industrial Manager, Eighth Naval District, and was commissioned at Avondale on 10 October 1944, Lt. Cmdr. Theodore F. Knoll, USCG, in command.
After completing river trials (and extinguishing a short-lived fire when welding in the port flag bag resulted in the destruction of five signal flags on 11 October 1944), Grand Rapids proceeded downriver to Burwood, La., where she completed calibrating her radio direction finder and compasses. The fuel depot having run out of fuel during the fueling process, she sailed short some 10,000 gallons.
Standing out on 17 October 1944 for Bermuda, British West Indies, to conduct her shakedown, Grand Rapids encountered high winds and heavy seas from a hurricane off the west coast of Florida on her second day out. With a damaged gyro compass, radar, main battery fire control system, fathometer, spring bearings and stern tubes, she received orders on 20 October to come about and proceed to New Orleans. Her misfortunes continued when unloading ammunition soon after her arrival, however, when a defective loading sling parted, sending a box of 3-inch ammunition plunging four decks down a hatch and breaking open at the conclusion of its journey, fortunately injuring no one on its descent.
Following repairs at the U.S. Naval Repair Base, Algiers, La., Grand Rapids set out once more for Bermuda on 27 October 1944. Two days out, however, engine trouble resulted in orders to put in to Key West, Fla., for a seven-day availability. Upon completion of that work, the frigate sailed on 4 November, reporting to Commander, DD [destroyer]/DE [escort vessel] Shakedown Task Group, Naval Operating Base, Bermuda, on 8 November.
Concluding her shakedown on 2 December 1944, Grand Rapids proceeded to Boston, Mass., which she reached two days later. Following an availability at the Navy Yard, South Boston, the ship sailed for Argentia, Newfoundland, on 6 January 1945 for assignment under Commander Task Force (TF) 24 as a weather vessel.
Assigned to Destroyers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Grand Rapids received orders to proceed to Weather Station No. 3, after which she served on stations 4, 5, and 8. Putting in to Reykjavik, Iceland, for an in-port period upon conclusion of her stint on Station No. 8, Grand Rapids there received the news telling of the end of the war in Europe. Returning to sea, the ship served on Station No. 2, then put in to Boston on 6 June for a 30-day repair period. Sailing on 7 July to return to Argentia, she steamed thence to take up a 20-day patrol on Station No. 9. Putting in to Argentia upon completion of her time on that station, she lay at that port, awaiting orders, when hostilities ended in the Pacific.
Ordered to air-sea rescue duty in conjunction with weather patrol, Grand Rapids conducted two patrols on Station No. 7, and one on Station No. 3, the latter being the waters in which she first operated upon being assigned to TF 24. Reporting back to Boston on 17 November 1945 for an in-port period, she departed that port on 5 December to begin a patrol on Station No. 10.
Ultimately completing her weather duty on 15 January 1946, she returned to Boston, and was temporarily assigned to the Coast Guard on 1 March until released for disposal. Decommissioned at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Va., on 10 April 1946, Grand Rapids was deemed unessential to the defense of the U.S. and authorized for disposal on 3 May 1946.
Stricken from the Naval Register on 21 May 1946, the ship was sold to Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Chester, Pa., on 14 April 1947, who accepted delivery and custody of the vessel at Claremont, Va., that same day (14 April), the veteran of weather patrol duty in the Atlantic was scrapped on 21 September 1947.
Commanding Officers Dates of Command
Lt. Cmdr. Theodore F. Knoll, USCG 10 October 1944-11 August 1945
Lt. G. Robert Osterfelt, USCGR 11-17 August 1945 (temporary)
Lt. (later Lt. Cmdr.) Johnson L. Hale, USCGR 17 August 1945- 17 September 1945
Lt. G. Robert Osterfelt, USCGR 17 September 1945 to end
Robert J. Cressman
9 August 2016