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Southwind’s Best and Worst of Times

by Captain Sumner (“Bud”) R. Dolber, Commanding Officer, USCGC Southwind (September 1966 to July 1969)

Southwind Precom Detail in Boston

On first reporting to the Base Boston precommissioning detail in 1966, I was given a list of crewmembers who had been selected and were on their way. I noted that there was a Kennedy (BMC) and an Oswald (QM1). I mentioned this curious fact to Personnel and they said we could have a Ruby, too, but not right then for he was in detention. I declined.

The Name Change from Atka to Southwind

In 1967 in the shipyard in Baltimore, the crew of the yet uncommissioned ship imprudently requested that the name be changed from Atka to Southwind, the original name of the vessel, in the face of a similar request by another icebreaker which was turned down. Word came back from the other vessel that Atka’s request was doomed to failure. ―Who the heck do they think they are?‖ Super crew, that‘s who, proved many time over in the months to come. The requested name change was approved.

Armed Forces Day Weekend (May 1967)

Let's go back to May, 1967, when we were released from the shipyard after our overhaul. Armed Forces Day weekend coming up and we had a chance to show off. We first got permission from the city to tie up Saturday and Sunday to unused Pier One, Pratt St. We dispatched our motor lifeboat whose crew was to sound a route from the shipyard to Pier One, determining safe depths and marking the course with life jackets anchored with shackles or something. Saturday morning the ship, newly painted and beautiful, was moved to the west side of Pier One, just across from Sam Smith Park on Light St. You could say that for a person driving north on Light St., Southwind dominated the waterfront. Our first coup! More than 2,000 folks toured the ship that weekend accompanied by proud crewmembers as hosts.

Shakedown Cruise to Bermuda

Most drills and exercises cancelled in view of the view of the request by COMEASTAREA that we look for a pleasure boat in the North Atlantic Ocean. Not quite as impossible as it sounds. We knew the boat left Newport for Bermuda and had a pretty good idea of its position when last heard from sometime earlier following its radio and engine failure. With a half a dozen boats on the horizon at any one time, the best we could do was to look at the name of every boat on its stern. We ultimately found our target, lost it overnight, found it again employing two CG aircraft in a shirt directed creeping line ahead search and towed it to Bermuda. First assignment successful (of many.)

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