The MIKE AZZOLINO
The MIKE AZZOLINO, Ex USCG WYT-72
Christened WTY-72 upon launch, her noun name was YANKTON -- after the Native American Tribe, a division of the Dakota Nation. She is sister to the APALACHEE (WYT-71), the MOHICAN (WYT-73), the CHINOOK (WYT-96), the OJIBWA (WYT-97), the SNOHOMISH (WYT-98), and the SAUK (WYT-99), the only Apalachee Class Harbor or Yard Tugs (WYT).
Each vessel is 110 feet long, the same size as another more famous historic cutter the PT Boat. Later these ladies had a name change from WYT to WYTM. The M is for medium size. W stands for Coast Guard. V would indicate a Navy vessel. Their designed is based on the Calumet Class Harbor Tug -- built a few years earlier but without fire-fighting and other special equipment.
The YANKTON was built in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, New York, on Gowanus Bay by Ira S. Bushey & Sons. The yard now houses the Hess Storage Terminal at the foot of Court Street. Amarada Hess and its Red Star Towing purchased the property from Ira Bushey & Sons. Though built in 1943, she was not commissioned until January of 1944.
She is a single screw vessel driven by 2 Elliot Electric generators driven by 2 Ingersoll Rand 8-cylinder diesel engines. She has a 26 feet 5 inches beam and a draft of 11.5 feet. Her top speed was 12 knots, faster than many tugs today. She had quarters for two officers and 14 enlisted men.
During World War II, she served in the 4th District, in Philly.
After the War she was returned to the US Coast Guard and sent to New England.
While stationed near Nantucket, by a Nantucket Angler's Club tradition, she acquired the nickname "RONC Rock 'n Roll," for "Republic of Nantucket Cutter Rock 'n Roll."
Mathew Giltner, First Class Quartermaster (navigator) aboard the YANKTON when it was decommissioned explains the vessel patch in this way. The marlin spike (a tool for repairing lines and creating knots) is a symbol of seamanship. The life saver symbolizes service in search and rescue. The ice floating in the tree-lined river serves as a reminder of keeping shipping channels open in Massachusetts and Maine.
As the YANKTON in Philly and Maine and, after being decommissioned in September 1984, in commercial life as the RUSSEL JR owner by Bay State Towing of Boston, then after 2000, as the CETUS owned by Cetus Tug Corp of South Bristol, ME, she saw use in law enforcement, search and rescue patrols, fire-fighting, ice-breaking, and commercial towing. Records about some of these exploits (or those of her crew) may be found on the Internet today.
Reporter Mike Crowe tells of the YANKTON's roll in an '78 incident as a USCG patrol boat during the marijuana and hashish smuggling days of the 1970s. It involved the British ketch TRAVELER III, a mysterious engine problems, a watery bilge, a fire, a rescue, a sinking, and an even more mysterious possible additional passenger. The YANKTON/crew were in the thick of it.
In 1974, a USCG aircraft spotted the fishing vessel TALYO MARU 28 poaching in US waters. The YANKTON began pursuit. The larger USCG DECISIVE caught the vessel almost 70 miles off the coast. The law journal write up of the case focuses on commencement of pursuit, but also involves jurisdiction. The YANKTON began the pursuit.
YANKTON the fire-fighter is best known battling the fire on board the tanker DEAN REINAUER. She towed and fought the blaze as she towed.
YANKTON the ice breaker made the cover of the Smithsonian Magazine in the 1980s. Now larger tugs do the same job.
Today renamed the MIKE AZZOLINO and owned by Vinik Marine she is in the company of other classic tugs. Her navel career is not at an end. She calls NY, NY, the birth place of tug boats, her home port.
Click on the image above picture to see an enlargement.
© 2008, www.vinikmarine.com