Coast Guard sets historic Francis Scott Key buoy on Patapsco River

The Crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James Rankin, homeported in Baltimore, set the Francis Scott Key memorial buoy in the Patapsco River, June 15, 2020. The buoy sits between the Francis Scott Key Bridge and Fort McHenry to mark the approximate location where Key wrote the National Anthem. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Tara Molle)

The Crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James Rankin, homeported in Baltimore, set the Francis Scott Key memorial buoy in the Patapsco River, June 15, 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Tara Molle)

BALTIMORE — The crew Coast Guard Cutter James Rankin set the Francis Scott Key memorial buoy on the Patapsco River, Monday morning.

The specially designed star-spangled buoy marks the approximate location where Francis Scott Key wrote The country’s National Anthem while trying to facilitate the release of a prisoner being held on a British ship during the bombardment on Fort McHenry in 1814.

The buoy, which sits between the Francis Scott Key Bridge and Fort McHenry, is set every summer and removed just before the winter. It has been an attraction for boaters and tourists for decades.


“Our crew is proud to carry on this annual Coast Guard tradition in commissioning the Francis Scott Key Memorial Buoy,” said Lt. Justin Strassfield, commanding officer of the James Rankin. “The operation allows us to reflect on the distinctly American spirit of resiliency.”

The Coast Guard has been responsible for the buoy’s seasonal schedule and maintenance since 1980.

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