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Woodbury IV (Coast Guard Cutter)

(CGC: dp. 220; l. 125'0"; b. 23'6"; dr. 6'9" (mean); s. 13.0 k.; cpl. 38; a. 1 3"; cl. Active)

Levi Woodbury, born in Francestown, N.H., on 22 December 1789, graduated from Dartmouth College at Hanover, N.H., in 1809. He studied law in offices in Litchfield, Conn.; Boston, Mass.; and Exeter, N.H., before being admitted to the New Hampshire bar in 1812. He practiced law in Francestown until 1816 when he received an appointment to the New Hampshire bench as judge of the superior court. In 1819, while still a New Hampshire judge, he moved his residence to Portsmouth. In 1822, he gave up his judgeship in a successful bid for the governorship of New Hampshire in which office he served until 1824. After a term in the lower house of the state legislature, he was elected to the United States Senate for the term beginninng on 4 March 1825.

At the conuclusion of that term in 1831, he declined a nomination to the New Hampshire state senate to remain active in national politics. In May 1831, Woodbury accepted the post of Secretary of the Navy in President Andrew Jackson's cabinet. Well suited to the office by virtue of service on the Senate naval committee, Woodbury revised the rules of conduct and procedure within the nation's naval establishment. Woodbury held his office as Secretary of the Navy until 30 June 1834 at which time he assumed the duties of the Secretary of the Treasury. In that role, he opposed the rechartering of the United States Bank and supported Jackson's fiscal policy. He liked the independent treasury and hard currency and warned against the danger of inflation in 1836. During the Panic of 1837, he devised a scheme whereby those who held Federal obligations suffered no loss as a result of the depreciated paper currency.

When the new administration assumed the reins of power, Woodbury gave up his duties as Secretary of the Treasury. Again declining a proffered state office, that of Chief Justice of the superior court of New Hampshire, in favor of national political office, he won another term in the United States Senate. Woodbury took his seat in the Senate on 4 March 1841 and served until 20 November 1845 at which time he resigned to accept a seat on the United States Supreme Court vacated by the death of Joseph Story. He served on the Supreme Court until his death at Portsmouth, N.H., on 4 September 1851.


The fourth Woodbury, a twin-screw, diesel-powered, steel-hulled Coast Guard cutter, was built in 1927 at Camden, N.J., by the American Brown Boveri Electric Corp., for the United States Coast Guard, and was fitted out to service navigational aids. Initially homeported at Norfolk, Va., Woodbury served at a succession of other ports prior to the entry of the United States into World War II: St. Petersburg, Fla., from 1929 to 1934; Gulfport, Miss., in 1935 and 1936; Corpus Christi, Tex., in 1936 and 1937; and Galveston from 1937 to 1941. In the summer of 1941, when the Coast Guard was taken into the Navy for service during the national emergency, Woodbury was serving at Galveston.

Either late in 1941 or early in 1942, Woodbury was classified as a submarine chaser, WSC-155, and somewhat later was shifted to patrol and escort duties in the Chesapeake Bay region to strengthen Allied antisubmarine warfare forces in that area where German U-boats had recently been taking a heavy toll of American coastwise shipping.

On the night of 16 February 1942, Woodbury was patrolling off the entrance to Chesapeake Bay in a dense fog. Shortly after 2145, lookouts on board the cutter heard two explosions in quick succession; and the ship's radioman soon picked up distress signals from a torpedoed vessel out in the murk. Woodbury accordingly altered course to pick up survivors.

The stricken vessel turned out to be the tanker E. H. Blum, and Woodbury rescued her entire crew of 40 men by 2245.

Shortly thereafter, Woodbury was transferred to the 8th Naval District. After brief inshore patrol work, the ship underwent an overhaul in which her armament was increased and then was placed under the direct operational control of Commander, 8th Naval District, for convoy escort duties between the Mississippi Passes and her old home port, Galveston.

While thus engaged, Woodbury picked up a sound contact at 1815 on 8 August 1942, 30 miles south of the Mississippi delta. She delivered a depth charge attack and noted a large oil slick, but could not confirm her "kill." As Woodbury patrolled the vicinity the following day, she noted that the waters were covered with diesel and lube oil and pieces of granulated cork over an area two miles long. Whether or not the Coast Guard cutter had actually destroyed a U-boat was never determined when the Allies investigated German records after the war.

Woodbury performed convoy escort work in the Gulf of Mexico, escorting coastwise shipping between ports on the gulf coast from Florida to Texas. She again delivered a depth charge attack on a suspected enemy submarine on 13 November 1942; but, since she was the sole escort for the convoy, she soon returned to her escort duties.

Her available records only span the time period from February to December of 1942, but it is reasonable to assume that she performed similar duties, convoy escort and inshore patrol, for the remainder of World War II. Apparently decommissioned and sold in 1948, Woodbury was renamed Humble AC-3, and, under the aegis of the Humble Oil and Refining Co., served as a tug through the late 1950's. Later acquired by the firm of Caribbean Towing Inc., she was renamed Challenge in about 1963. She is listed in the 1979 American Bureau of Shipping register as still serving, as a tug, with that firm.

Published: Tue Nov 03 14:52:43 EST 2015