Coast Guard celebrates Cutter Smilax’s 75 years of service

Coast Guard Cutter Smilax file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Edward Wargo

Coast Guard Cutter Smilax file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Edward Wargo

FORT MACON, N.C. – The Coast Guard will be holding a ceremony commemorating the Coast Guard Cutter Smilax’s 75 years of service and dedication Friday morning at Coast Guard Sector Field Office Fort Macon, North Carolina.

Smilax is the “Queen of the Fleet”, a title held only by the oldest commissioned cutter in the Coast Guard in active service. The Coast Guard Cutter Smilax is a 100-foot construction tender with an attached 86-foot barge. Commissioned November 1, 1944, five months after Allied forces had landed on the beaches of Normandy, the Smilax has been instrumental in many of the Coast Guard’s missions over the years, including several notable search and rescue cases.

During Hurricane Florence, Smilax was the first cutter on scene following the storm. Within two weeks, the Smilax had corrected 80% of the aids to navigations damaged or moved by Florence, which helped to re-open critical ports for commerce and military assets in the eastern North Carolina area.

Homeported in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, Smilax is responsible for 1,325 fixed and 26 floating aids to navigations. These aids mark the waterways around the shores on the North Carolina outer banks, ensuring that vessel traffic can safely navigate the constantly shifting shoals of the areas Smilax maintains.

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