|History of The Rockaway
February 1942 — February 1972
| Her first skipper, Navy Commander H.C. Doan, pushed her through her
shakedown cruise, then sailed her through the Panama Canal in April 1943 to her
homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, where she joined the wartime Atlantic Fleet.
Nearly always steaming alone, no convoy for protection, she delivered vital supplies
and personnel to outlying bases in the North Atlantic. Sonar contacts threatened
many times throughout those missions and—though Rockaway attacked each time
with depth charges—no submarine wreckage was ever sighted.
|USS Rockaway AVP-29
| Nor did any submarine stop Rockaway from carrying out her missions. She carried aviation
cargo from Norfolk to the Ranger at Scapa Flow … transported aircraft engines to the Azores
… guarded the port of Casablanca for two months … transferred a complete squadron from
Newfoundland to England, and delivered secret radar equipment to England for the Normandy
During that famous invasion in June 1944, besides serving as a flagship for Admiral Wilkes,
Rockaway carried troops to the beachheads, then guarded them against air attacks.
After repairing battle damage in a Navy shipyard in November, Rockaway was based at the
Panama Canal. From there she delivered personnel and aviation supplies to the Galapagos
Islands. When a PBM crashed off Coco Solo, the Rockaway raced to the scene and rescued all
While steaming to Recife, Brazil on 21 February 1945, she found a disabled tanker, a
|Depth charge fires from
| In the early 1950s she was also the home of crew
member John Edward Pic, the older brother of Lee
Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President John
Mystery shrouded the Rockaway in 1950 when its
captain, James Reed Hinnant, disappeared without a
trace. As Captain John M Waters—once head of
Search and Rescue in Washington, DC—wrote in his
book Rescue At Sea the mystery remains unsolved.
|Heavy seas on
| When they tugged on his retaining line to see if he was okay, they got no
response. They tried to haul the line in but it would not budge. They were able
to pull up the weighted belt, which had evidently been removed, but captain
Hinnant was nowhere in sight.
None of the many men watching from the railings witnessed any blood or
disturbance, and no one saw him surface. "What happened that night," Captain
Waters concluded, "will never be known." (To read the actual report of the
last person to see him, click here).
|Floating in Mystery
| No mystery surrounded nine crewmen of the Rockaway, however, when they were
ordered to abandon a British freighter, they had tried to save, south of the island of
Bermuda. They jumped into a churning sea where at least ten sharks were waiting.
[See: Abandon Ship on our home page]
Rockaway escorted America's only active square rigger—the 3-masted Coast Guard
Barque Eagle—in 1954, 1959 and 1965 as Cadets from the Coast Guard Academy
sailed her to Europe and back. [See: Photo Gallery on Muster List]
| After several more years on
Atlantic ocean stations,
Rockaway began helping
|FINAL FAREWELL: Stripped of her insignia and number,
escorted in 1972 by the Cutter Tamaroa, the former Cutter
Rockaway leaves New York harbor for the last time.
| Retirement, however, was not for her. The day before Christmas 1948, the
USS Rockaway was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard and commissioned that
same day with a new hull number of WAVP-377.
Now known as the Coast Guard Cutter Rockaway, based out of St. George on
Staten Island, New York, she eagerly sailed into her new duties—enforcing
maritime law ... finding and rescuing the missing at sea ... serving for months
on Ocean Stations Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Echo at lonely intervals
down the backbone of the Atlantic.
|Cutter Rockaway in 1955
|Rockaway as oceanographer