LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP - For the past 15 years, a 44-foot Coast Guard cutter has called Bayview Park in the Brant Beach section of Long Beach Township home, but later this month it will be moved to the Tuckerton Seaport.
The Coast Guard 44355 is a 15-ton white and red motor lifeboat that has rested for more than two years on wooden blocks at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May. Before that, when the vessel was active, it was stationed in Beach Haven for 30 years.
The boat was salvaged from a scrap pile in 1999 after the late township Commissioner Peter Murphy spotted the discarded vessel. Volunteers then worked to restore the vessel and it was displayed at the park.
Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini said the boat that is owned by the township has become an attractive nuisance over the years and requires constant maintenance.
"We don't do it justice. People always want to get on the boat and see what it's about, and they can't climb on board. We're giving it to the seaport because we feel it's better served if it's over there than it is at Bayview Park," Mancini said.
The cutter is one of the Coast Guard's self-righting motor lifeboats and was designed to yield to a wave, roll and return to the surface.
The lead-block lined hull of the vessel makes for a bottom-heavy design. In the event of a wave submerging the boat, it will roll upright.
Paul Hart, director of the Tuckerton Seaport, said the cutter will be moved to the facility at the end of this month. Jay Thompson, owner of Atlantic Movers in West Creek, is moving the vessel at no charge because he loves history, Hart said.
Once at the seaport, the cutter boat will be placed at the point of the property and next to a wooden Seabright skiff boat from the 1900s that was an original lifesaving boat, he said.
"We're very excited about the boat coming to us. It's a perfect match to our mission. This boat will help tell the untold story of the creation of the U.S. Coast Guard. The creation of the Coast Guard comes from the marriage of the U.S. Lifesaving Service and Revenue Cutter Service," he said.
Hart pointed to local maritime history of the U.S. Lifesaving Service that started in Stafford Township. The first federal lifesaving system was at the Jersey Shore. From 1871 to 1915, the U.S. Lifesaving Service saved 177,000 lives on the east and west coast and the Great Lakes, he said.
On Aug. 4, the seaport will celebrate Coast Guard Day and hopes to have a Coast Guard helicopter come to the opening of the cutter exhibit.
"This is a huge asset to us, and we're proud to be custodians of this boat. This 44-foot boat will now go over the Route 72 bridge and not under it to come to the Seaport. We can't wait," Hart said.
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