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AFSC Historical Corner:  Blue Wing & Red Wing,  Kodiak-Afognak Patrol Boats

Early Pioneers
Research and Mgmt.
The Albatross, 1882
Early BOF Patrol Boats
FWS Vessels
Newer Research Ships
Pribilof Tenders
Launches/Small Craft
Charters/Other Boats
Vessel Links

The Blue Wing,  1924 - ?

Blue Wing
The Blue Wing.  Bureau of Fisheries photo, 1925.

Blue Wing  Details
Year built: 1918
Other id: August  (pre-BOF)
El-Don  (post-FWS)
#216855 (USCG ID)
Length: 49.6'
Breadth: 12.5'
Draft: 5.7'
Tonnage (tons): 22 gross, 18 net
Original engine: 50 hp Union
Known skippers: F. R. Lucas  (1925)
Dan H. McNeil  (1926-27)
Spencer L. West  (1929)
Victor Hilberg  (1931)
M. T. Morris  (1944)
Known service: 1924-51
Disposition: unknown

The 49-foot purse-seiner August was purchased by the Bureau of Fisheries in 1924. The vessel was then renamed the Blue Wing after the blue-winged teal.

On 29 July, she set off from Seattle, Washington, for Southeast Alaska, where she began enforcing the fishing laws and regulations until moving over to Cook Inlet in early September.

During the next 10 years, the seaworthy vessel patrolled regularly in Alaska around Kodiak and Afognak Islands. She also served as local tender to the Afognak hatchery, where she was headquartered. The Blue Wing was usually sent to the southeastern district each autumn following the summer fishing seasons.

In the winter of 1929-30, the Blue Wing underwent extensive renovations. Part of this work included the reboring and installation of the 50-horsepower gas engine taken from the Bureau's patrol vessel Scoter.

  Blue Wing
The FWS vessel Blue Wing in 1947 after major renovations.
E. P. Haddon, photographer.  Auke Bay Laboratories photo.

Throughout the mid-1930s, the Blue Wing's Alaska service included patrolling Bristol Bay. In June of 1936, she moved from her summer duty in the Kodiak area to patrolling annually in Prince William Sound. Non-enforcement work included the assisting of stream marker replacement in the Ketchikan disctrict during the spring of 1937.

While she was a Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) boat in 1941, the Blue Wing went missing for several days after being caught in a severe gale off British Columbia. She had developed engine trouble and narrowly avoided running aground. Fortunately, the Canadian police eventually located the vessel safely anchored while her crew was working to repair the engine.

The Blue Wing was with the FWS as late as February 1951, stationed at Craig, Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard records show she was later named the El-Don.


The Red Wing,  1926 - 1939

Red Wing
Red Wing during a 1919 National Geographic Society expedition to the Katmai area.  National Geographic Society, Katmai Expedition, 1913-19 photo, UAA-HMC-0186.  Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.  Alaska State Library.

The Red Wing was transferred to the Bureau of Fisheries from the Department of Agriculture in 1926 but was kept out of commission at the Afognak hatchery in Alaska pending the installation of a replacement engine. The 40-foot Red Wing was equipped with sleeping accommodations for a crew of five.

Red Wing  Details
Length: 40'
Breadth: 11'
Draft: 3.5'
Tonnage (tons): 10 gross
Original engine: 3-cylinder Standard
Disposition: condemned in 1939

In 1928, with a 3-cylinder Standard gas engine and new fuel tanks installed, the vessel finally began enforcement duty. The Red Wing patrolled throughout the Kodiak-Afognak district and extended her duties to the Alaska Peninsula beginning in 1935. She was also used to provide transportation of supplies and personnel to the federal salmon hatchery at Afognak Lake.

The Red Wing's fisheries service came to an end in 1939. While on the ways awaiting her launch in the spring, the vessel was damaged from an earthquake. Her ensuing service was consequently shortened and proved disappointing. Local assessments made by the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation revealed that the boat's poor condition did not warrant further investments for repairs. As a result the BOF decided to condemned and dismantle the Red Wing in August.

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