Shipwrecks and the Coast Guard / The Escanaba
Shipwrecks and the Coast Guard
In Autumn 1929 raging storms sank four ships on Lake Michigan between Grand Haven and Milwaukee. Two went down with all hands - a total of seventy-seven men. The cargo ship Andaste departed Grand Haven for Chicago on September 9 and sank with her twenty-five man crew south of Holland. The car ferry Milwaukee sank enroute to Grand Haven on October 22 with a crew of fifty-two. Coast Guard personnel station in Grand Haven were hampered in search and rescue attempts by vessels unable to travel in heavy seas and the absence of ship-to-shore radios on the foundering ships. As a result, the U.S. Congress funded six additional Great Lakes Coast Guard cutters. Grand Haven became the home port of the Escanaba in December 1932.
On December 9, 1932, the 165-foot Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba arrived in Grand Haven, her home port until she was called to duty in World War II. On June 13, 1943, while escorting a convoy from Greenland to Newfoundland, the Escanaba was destroyed by an enemy submarine and sank in the North Atlantic. Only two crewmen survived. Grief-stricken, the citizens of Grand Haven organized a war bond campaign and raised over one million dollars in three months to pay for a "second Escanaba." Escanaba II was commissioned in 1946, but never visited Grand Haven. Escanaba III was commissioned in Grand Haven; she is now stationed in Boston. Each August, Grand Haven celebrates its relationship with the Coast Guard by hosting a festival that commemorates the founding of the United States Revenue Marine on August 4, 1790.