Tuesday, November 1, 2016

1 October marks 25 years for STORIS becoming QOTF

A photo taken in 2005 clearly shows STORIS gold "38" and the Galloping Ghost in fresh paint. What a beautiful ship...and what a loss.

CGC FIR with her gold hull numbers prior to her decommissioning. Taken sometime between 1987 and 1991.

ACUSHNET on her decommissioning day.

SMILAX at her Gold Number ceremony.

Twenty-five years ago last Saturday, in a ceremony in Seattle on 1 October 1991, the Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse tender FIR (WLM-212). At the time, FIR had been operating as a coastal buoy tender and had been in service for the U.S. Coast Guard for exactly fifty-one years. She was the oldest commissioned cutter in the fleet. With FIR’s retirement, STORIS became the oldest commissioned cutter in the Coast Guard, earning her the title “Queen of the Fleet.” There at the ceremony to remove the covering to reveal the gold “38” were USCG RADM Richard D. “Dick” Schmidtman and his wife, Mildred (also known as Julie). RADM Schmidtman was a LCDR and CDR who worked as Resident Chief Inspector at the Toledo Shipbuilding Company from April of 1941 to June of 1944. While at Toledo, he supervised the construction of STORIS while Mrs. Schmidtman had christened STORIS on her launch day, 4 April 1942.

Upon STORIS' decommissioning, the CGC ACUSHNET (WMEC-167) took over the mantle as QOTF, a role she fulfilled until she, too, was retired on 11 March 2011. CGC SMILAX (WLIC-315) is the current Queen, following the ACU.

Screen cap is from the video of the ceremony that used to be posted on the CG D13 PA site. It is my understanding that it is apparently “lost.” I downloaded a copy around the time the National Register nomination was being prepared but it is terribly distorted from duplication and compression artifacts. Undoubtedly, there are other copies out there -- I know of a FIR decommissioning plankowner who has one -- but it’s apparently not a concern for the Coast Guard administration to have something like that available.

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