Cutters Oldest Cutter
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USCGC SMILAX was the 7th of 8 Inland Buoy Tenders commissioned in 1944.  She is the last of her class in commission.




     The USCGC SMILAX (WLIC 315) became the oldest cutter in commission and "Queen of the Fleet" on the 11th of March 2011 after the CGC ACUSHNET was decommissioned (WMEC-167) during ceremonies conducted in Ketchikan, AK.  The formal "Gold Numbers" ceremony was held on the 15th of April 2011.

     USCGC SMILAX is the oldest Coast Guard Construction Tender, a unique 100-foot bay and sound tender was designed by the Coast Guard with detailed drawings by Dubuque Boat & Boiler works, Dubuque, Iowa.  SMILAX (WAGL-315) was laid 26 November 1943; launched 18 August 1944; and commissioned 01 November 1944. She was the most expensive ship in her class, coming in at a cost of $194,238.

SMILAX being launched in Dubuque, IA on 18 August 1944.
(Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institution)

     During World War II, SMILAX was assigned to the 7th District and stationed at Fort Pierce, Florida, where she was used for aids to navigation, she remained there post war. Then from 01 June 1954 until 09 November 1965, she was homeported out of New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  During her stay in Florida she assisted in several notable search and rescue cases. On 15 November 1950, SMILAX assisted the grounded fishing vessel Ava Maria near St Augustine, Florida. 1 January 1953, she assisted the disabled yacht Mimosa at New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Then 17 January 1956, SMILAX assisted the yacht Quest, aground at St. Augustine, Florida.

     SMILAX was re-engined in the 1960's, given a 70 foot barge, and re-designated WLI-315. On 09 November 1965 she was moved once again to a new homeport of Brunswick, Georgia, where she continued to be used for aids to navigation.

     After serving diligently for the people of Georgia, for 40 years, SMILAX was sent up to relieve CGC PRIMROSE of her duties in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina where she's now responsible for constructing and rebuilding 1226 fixed aids throughout the Intercoastal Waterway of North Carolina and northern South Carolina where waters can average less than six feet deep. In addition to fixed aids, SMILAX is responsible for 26 floating aids located throughout the treacherous inlets of North Carolina's Outer Banks.



Class: Inland Tender
Launched: 18 August 1944
Commissioned: 01 November 1944
Propulsion: 2 Caterpillar 3412s
Compliment: CWO/BOSN plus 16 Enlisted

Length: Cutter 100 ft. / Barge 70 ft.
Beam: Cutter 24 ft. / Barge 30 ft.
Draft: 6 ft.
Displacement: Cutter 225 tons / Barge 75 tons
Maximum speed: 8.5 kts with barge/ 10.5 without barge



CGC SMILAX pushes a 70' construction barge.
The barges are equipped with cranes and other ATON equipment to drive piles and work the smaller sized buoys.