USCGC Morro Bay: Keep on … tuggin’

The USCGC Morro Bay is one of nine Bay Class icebreaking tugs in the Coast Guard. They mostly work in the Great Lakes and the northeast these days.

Her keel was laid in August, 1979 by Tacoma Boatbuilding Co., in Tacoma, Washington. She was launched on July 11, 1980 and would be formally commissioned in Yorktown, Virginia later that year. In addition to Yorktown, she also served in New London, Connecticut out of the US Coast Guard Academy. She is current stationed in Cleveland, Ohio.

While this cover speaks to a “recommissioning,” there is no record of the Morro Bay ever being decommissioned.

Morro Bay design features

Like other tugs of her class, the Morro Bay features, according to the US Coast Guard’s website, “a low pressure air hull lubrication or bubbler system that forces air and water between the hull and ice. This system improves icebreaking capabilities by reducing resistance against the hull, reducing horsepower requirements.”

Other design features include:

  • Number in service: 9
  • Length: 140 feet
  • Beam: 37.5 feet
  • Displacement: 662 tons
  • Power plant: 2 diesel engines
  • Typical Crew: 17 (3 officers, 14 enlisted)

The ship is capable of breaking 18-20 inches of ice.

Goes bump

The Morro Bay has been involved in two very minor collissions.

In 2008, she collided with the Block Island Ferry. Then in 2021, she and the museum ship USS Cod bumped. Both times, the Morro Bay underwent minor repairs.

While these minor scrapes may look bad, the ship has also won several awards:

Philatelically speaking

I currently own three philatelic covers featuring the Morro Bay (along with covers from several other Bay Class tugs.

USCGC Morro Bay