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American Coastal Rescue Craft

A Design History of Coastal Rescue Craft Used by the USLSS and Uscg

William D. Wilkinson and Timothy R. Dring

Publication Year: 2009

William Wilkinson and Timothy Dring provide detailed history and technical design information on every type of small rescue craft ever used by the United States Life-Saving Service and United States Coast Guard, from the early 1800s to current day. By looking at these vessels, many of which featured innovative designs, the authors shed light on the brave men and women who served in USLSS and USCG stations, saving innumerable lives.

In the book and on the accompanying CD, rare photographs and drawings of each type of boat are enhanced by detailed design histories, specifications, and station assignments for each craft. Including motorized, wind-powered, and human-powered vessels, this work will become an important reference for maritime historians, rescue craft preservation groups, and museums, as well as members of the general public interested in these craft.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xx

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Series Foreward

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pp. xxi-xxii

Water is unquestionably the most important natural feature on earth. By volume the world’s oceans compose 99 percent of the planet’s living space; in fact, the surface of the Pacific Ocean alone is larger than that of the total...

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pp. xxiii-xxiv

When one hears of the U.S. Coast Guard, the most likely “trigger” is a dramatic rescue by a helicopter crew or a large cutter fighting heavy seas to assist a vessel in distress . . . the advent of digital cameras capturing the action...

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pp. xxv-xxvi

This book addresses a gap in the available historical overviews of the United States Life- Saving Service (USLSS) and United States Coast Guard (USCG) that have been published over the years: namely, detailed information...


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pp. xxvii-xxviii

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pp. xxix-xxxi

Through time, the world of small craft has seen innumerable and fascinating designs of boats reflecting uses for work, pleasure, or special purposes. History has not recorded man’s earliest attempts to rescue one or more...

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1. The Early Years

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pp. 1-13

One of the earliest recorded attempts to develop a noncapsizable boat occurred in 1765, when de Bernieres, the controller-general of roads and bridges in France, fitted out a small boat with air cases in both the bow and stern...

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2. Development and Refinement of Design

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pp. 14-38

Despite the immediate postwar period of inactivity for the federal government as it regards coastal lifesaving, the Massachusetts Humane Society continued its quite active program, including the construction of additional...

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3. The Modern Age Begins

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pp. 39-53

Internal combustion gasoline engines had revolutionized land transportation by the end of the nineteenth century, and engine design technology was undergoing rapid improvements in terms of efficiency, durability, power...

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4. The Modern Age Matures

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pp. 54-85

On June 5, 1912, U.S. Senator Charles E. Townsend of Michigan introduced a bill in Congress to consolidate the U.S. Life-Saving Service with the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service to form a new organization to be called the U.S...

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5. Gearing Up for War

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pp. 86-96

As the 1930s were coming to a close, the United States was slowly emerging from a national economic depression but was also steadily being drawn into what would become the Second World War. With the end of the...

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6. The Post-World War II Coast Guard

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pp. 97-124

Upon the successful conclusion of World War II, the Coast Guard was once again, on January 1, 1946, separated from the Navy Department and returned to Treasury Department control. As has typically been the case...

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7. The Coast Guard Today

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pp. 125-150

By the early 1980s, the Coast Guard began to recognize that the venerable 44-foot motor lifeboat was nearing the end of its service life, having seen two decades of heavy use in severe weather and sea conditions...


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pp. 151-156


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pp. 157-162

Appendix A. Glossary and Abbreviations

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pp. 163-166

Appendix B. The U.S. Coast Guard National motor Lifeboat School USLSS/USCG Methods of Boat Launch

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pp. 167-180

Photograph Credits

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pp. 181-182


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pp. 183-186

About the Authors

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p. 187

E-ISBN-13: 9780813045122
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813033341
Print-ISBN-10: 0813033349

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 125 b&w illustrations, 41 line art,
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 801840930
MUSE Marc Record: Download for American Coastal Rescue Craft

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Subject Headings

  • Search and rescue boats -- United States -- Design and construction -- History.
  • Search and rescue boats -- United States -- History.
  • United States. Coast Guard -- Boats -- History.
  • United States. Life-Saving Service -- Boats -- History.
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