The Coast Guard has a number of diverse offerings in New London. In addition to the Coast Guard Academy, there is a Coast Guard station at Fort Trumbull as well as the service's research and development arm and International Ice Patrol. Although the 140-foot cutter Morro Bay is in its last year in the city, set for transfer to the Great Lakes for icebreaking duties, the 295-foot tall ship Eagle and 87-foot cutter Chinook remain at the waterfront.
For several years, New London was also the home of one of the Coast Guard's venerable fleet of 210-foot medium endurance cutters. This week's item, offered by user dd329ala, is an envelope from the commanding officer of the cutter Vigorous during that time. Mailed out on Aug. 18, 1976, the stamp adds a bicentennial touch to any stamp collectors out there.
The Vigorous was commissioned in 1969 and for nearly 23 years the Coast Guard Academy was her home port. The primary missions of the cutter were search and rescue as well as marine law enforcement, of which there were plenty of examples in her early history. The cutter was especially active in enforcing fisheries regulations during the 1970s; according to the ship's history, the Vigorous seized seven foreign trawlers in 1975 and 1976 alone and handed out $1 million in fines. One of the seized vessels, the Russian ship Anton Tamsaare, was caught illegally catching lobsters near Nantucket.
In the 1980s, the Vigorous was credited with rescuing 300 Cubans during the Mariel Exodus. Closer to home, the cutter also picked up three sailors on an overturned sailboat off Cape Cod in 1982. The cutter was active in drug enforcement operations, seizing hundreds of thousands of pounds of marijuana and hashish. Vice President George H.W. Bush visited the Vigorous in 1983, followed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
The Vigorous moved to Galveston, Texas, in January of 1992. Although decommissioned later this year, the Coast Guard brought the cutter back to action in 1993 and continued to interdict Haitian and Cuban refugees and do drug enforcement operations. Although it continues with fisheries regulation, search and rescue, migrant interdiction, and drug enforcement activities, the Vigorous was also involved in port security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
At the Coast Guard Academy commencements, officers have typically made a remark or two about how the service could really use some equipment upgrades. Indeed, the Vigorous is still in service nearly 44 years after it was commissioned. The cutter was moved to Cape May, N.J., in 2000 and has been stationed there ever since.
The postmarked envelope includes some age toning and stains but is in good condition with no tears or damage. The asking price is $4 with free shipping and handling. The auction ends at about 8 p.m. on Wednesday.