Sector Field Office Grand Haven History



The history of the Coast Guard in Grand Haven dates back to at least 1876 when the Eleventh District of the U.S. Life Saving Service established headquarters in town. Following the reorganization of the Life Saving and Revenue Cutter services into the Coast Guard in 1915, Grand Haven became headquarters for the Tenth District.

The arrival of the Coast Guard Cutter ESCANABA was in Deember 1932. The community was saddened when the vessel was sunk during World War II in the North Atlantic. Only two of the 103 crewmen survived. Escanaba park was established as a memorial to those sailors aboard the ESCANABA. - "History." Grand Haven, 19 June 2014,

With the reorganization of 1939, Cleveland succeeded Grand Haven as headquarters of the Ninth District, but Grand Haven remained an important location with a Coast Guard Station, a lighthouse, and the cutter ESCANABA, which exploded and sank on June 13, 1943 while on convoy duty in the North Atlantic.

Lieutenant G.J. Pendergrast

Lieutenant G.J. Pendergrast was appointed by the Board of Navy Commissioners to examine and select sites for lighthouses on the Great Lakes in 1837. They were hired to construct the lighthouse on the south pier, marking the most navigable channel into the river. Stone used to complete the dwelling and tower were quarried in Green Bay and stone for the steps came from Cleveland. In August 1839, Mehemiah Merritt was hired as the first lighthouse keeper. The lighthouse stood 30 feet tall and had four oil lamps, backed by 14-inch reflectors, being used to produce a fixed white light. On December 17, 1852, poor craftsmanship and materials led to the wall in the dwelling collapsing early the next morning and the tower later that day in a storm. The lighthouse was operational again by 1855. - "Grand Haven History." Michigan History,

Group Grand Haven (April 6, 1997)

The Group office moved to its current location in Grand Haven in 1988. Prior to that time it had been located at various sites in Muskegon and Ludington. In June 2005, the unit was changed from "Group Grand Haven" to "Sector Field Office Grand Haven."

Rifle Range

In February 1973, federal surplus property known as Grand Haven Coast Guard Rifle Range, Ferrysburg, MI, was assigned to the Department of the Interior for conveyance to the city of Ferrysburg for parks and recreation purposes. It was officially transferred to the city on July 13, 1973.

Coast Guard Festival

Grand Haven is a City of Festivals. Yearly, there are over 12 major festivals & parades throughout the town. Included in these is the annual Coast Guard City, USA Festival. It unofficially began in 1924 with a township picnic and now has an attendance of over 300,000 people, including high ranking dignitaries from all over the country. Grand Haven was the first city designated by Congress to be named "Coast Guard City, USA." For more information on Coast Guard Festival, please visit