Coast Guard holds 52nd annual White Alder ceremony

Members participate in the 52nd annual wreath laying ceremony near Memorial Light near White Castle, Louisiana, on the Lower Mississippi River December 7, 2020. The event honored the 17 Coast Guard personnel who lost their lives when the cutter sank and was subsequently buried in the Mississippi River, December 7, 1968. (Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Carlos Galarza)

Members participate in the 52nd annual wreath laying ceremony near Memorial Light near White Castle, Louisiana, on the Lower Mississippi River December 7, 2020. (Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Carlos Galarza)

NEW ORLEANS – Members of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Baton Rouge held a memorial and wreath laying ceremony Monday for the 52nd anniversary of the sinking of the Coast Guard Cutter White Alder at USS Kidd Veterans Museum in Baton Rouge.

The White Alder and the motor vessel Helena, a 455-foot Taiwanese flagged freighter, collided in the Mississippi River near Bayou Goula Bend Dec. 7, 1968. The cutter sank in 75 feet of water. Three of its 20-person crew were rescued, while the other 17 perished. The remaining crew members are entombed in the sunken cutter at the bottom of the Mississippi to this day.

White Alder was homeported in New Orleans from 1947 until 1968. The cutter’s primary responsibility was to tend river aids to navigation and to conduct search and rescue and law enforcement duties, when required.

A special aids to navigation structure was built in honor of the crew and marks the location of the sunken vessel near White Castle, Louisiana. December 7 every year, Coast Guardsmen and surviving family members gather at the site in remembrance of those who lost their lives.

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