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CG Schooner Alden, Cape May, New Jersey, 1942

CG Schooner Alden, Cape May, New Jersey, 1942

The Alden, like the Florence V, which was captained by “Pete” Bauer, was used by the Coast Guard during WWII, to patrol harbors, rivers and coastal waters of the United States. When conducting offshore patrols, the vessels would be assigned a grid patrol area along the 50-fathom curve of the Atlantic Coast, off New Jersey and Delaware. For this work, they were painted battleship gray and fitted out with forward weaponry and an underwater microphone to pick up sounds of any lurking U-boats. On some days, the purpose of their patrol was to pick up the sounds of U-boats, drifting quietly in the grid to listen and observe. At other times the crews of those small, lightly armed vessels were ordered to make engine disturbance to keep submarines submerged. The U-boats would most often submerge upon approach of even the smallest vessel for fear that their location would be reported to well-armed military craft. Another reason for a patrol boat to keep a submarine submerged was so that the submarine would consume more fuel. On one memorable patrol by the Florence V, the crew surely thought their day of reckoning had come. Unusual waves were seen to be caused by a dark metal tower in the water – possibly a submarine conning tower! The one rifle aboard was produced from below. Shiver me timbers, lads, we’re about to make contact. Then, relief, sweat drops being thankfully mopped away – the tower turned out to be a harmless floating cylinder of some kind. You just had to be there!

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