Coast Guard’s Oldest Cutter to Celebrate 75 Years

(US Coast Guard photo)

The Coast Guard will celebrate USCG Cutter Smilax, at 10 am Friday, Nov. 1, at Sector Field Office Fort Macon on Atlantic Beach. The ship has been in service for 75 years, and has called Atlantic Beach home since 1999.

Smilax is the “Queen of the Fleet”, a title held only by the oldest commissioned cutter in the Coast Guard in active service. 

Homeported in Atlantic Beach, Smilax is responsible for 1,325 fixed and 26 floating aids to navigation. These aids mark the waterways around the shores on the North Carolina outer banks, ensuring that vessel traffic can safely navigate the constantly shifting shoals of the areas Smilax maintains.


During Hurricane Florence, Smilax was the first cutter on scene following the storm. Within two weeks, her crew had corrected 80 percent of the aids to navigation damaged or moved by Florence, which helped to re-open critical ports for commerce and military assets in the eastern North Carolina area.

Earlier this month, the crew of Smilax commemorated her with a short video:

Smilax was commissioned Nov. 1, 1944, five months after Allied forces had landed on the beaches of Normandy. She has won several awards and has been instrumental in many of the Coast Guard’s missions over the years including several notable search and rescue cases.