Historical WILLOW Cutters
The first Coast Guard Cutter to be named WILLOW was homeported in Memphis, TN and began service in 1927 in the U.S. Lighthouse Service. She was a 200-foot long steam powered vessel that serviced aids to navigation between St. Louis, MO and New Orleans, LA. In 1939, WILLOW was transferred to the Coast Guard and on December 15, 1944 she was decommissioned and transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers
The second WILLOW was a 189-foot steam powered, twin screw vessel that served in the Army beginning on April 15, 1942. Commissioned as USA GEN. HENRY KNOX, the vessel served as a mine planting vessel. She was then transferred to the Navy on March 6, 1945 and commissioned as the USS PICKET as a mine sweeping vessel. USCGC WILLOW was commissioned on September 20, 1947 when she was transferred to the Coast Guard. The cutter WILLOW was homeported in San Francisco and worked as a buoy tender for 22 years until her decommissioning in October 10, 1969.
Present Day WILLOW
USCGC WILLOW was built in Marinette, WI, launched in June 1996 and commissioned in April 1997. Cutter WILLOW is the second in the production line of multi-mission buoy tenders that utilize an advanced array of technology. The Integrated Ship Control System coordinates RADAR, satellite navigation, and computer generated charts with the ship’s controllable pitch propeller, rudder, and thrusters allowing the WILLOW to maintain position within a 5 meter circle without human intervention. Capable of performing Aids to Navigation, Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Marine Environmental Protection, and Ice Breaking, WILLOW is a true multi-mission platform. WILLOW was previously homeported in Newport, RI. While in Rhode Island, WILLOW was responsible for 250 Aids to Navigation as well as NOAA buoys spanning from Rhode Island to Maine. For the first time in 33 years, WILLOW made the international voyage across the Atlantic by a USCG buoy tender to participate in international maritime events. WILLOW also acted as the incident command platform for OPSAIL 2000, the largest maritime event in history.
WILLOW replaced USCGC OAK as the District 7 seagoing buoy tender following a Midlife Maintenance Availability that ended in August 2017. WILLOW is responsible for servicing 257 aids-to-navigation ranging from South Carolina through the Caribbean, including Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands.