USRC Scout – Which One Is It?

Historical Information on the USRC Scout
[Reprint of contents published by WJaccard, June 2008]

In 1897, a 65 foot wooden revenue cutter was built
at Port Townsend to patrol the waters of the Puget
Sound. The boat had a 9 ft. 6 in. beam and 5 ft. 5 in.
draft. She was powered with a compoundexpansion
steam engine, and her main tasks were
to deal with illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

In 1903, another wooden revenue cutter was built at
Astoria to patrol the waters off Oregon. This boat
had a similar design and similar dimensions to the
original Scout, but was reportedly only 62 ft. long.
This revenue cutter was originally powered with a
compound-expansion steam engine, and originally
named “Patrol.”

In 1915, the “Patrol” was completely rebuilt and
equipped with a three-cylinder, 50-horsepower
gasoline engine. At that time, she was renamed
“Scout” and transferred from Astoria to Puget
Sound, where she replaced the original “Scout.”

This new Scout was the fourth motor-powered craft
in Coast Guard service, exclusive of motor tenders
used by the large cutters. She was commanded by
Pilot Benjamin Lichtenberg.

The remains of one of these revenue cutters named
“Scout” are located in Lake Washington, off Yarrow
Point, in approximately 85 feet of water. The
wooden hull rests on its port side. The hull is intact
but empty. The name “Scout” is still legible on the
sides of the hull near the bow. It appears that the
vessel was stripped and then the hull was scuttled.

While we have measured the dimensions of the hull
in the lake, given the similar dimensions of the two
revenue cutters and uncertainty as to how the reported
measurements were taken, we cannot determine
with any certainty which “Scout” is in the lake.

Potential New Wreck & The Coal Cars

A few months ago when I was out conducting side scan sonar work with Innerspace Exploration, we hit an area North of 520 that had a number of wrecks within close range of one another.  

This area is generally known to the small group of local exploration divers, with the main wreck of the bunch being the YMS-359 – a US Navy Minesweeper that sits in 200ft of water and is about 135ft long.  So I didn’t think too much of the information until last week when I sat down with the data and tried to match wreck names to target locations.  As I matched coordinates to wrecks like Elfin, Urania, the previously mentioned YMS-359, Falcon, and Scout – I came up with one more set of coordinates than I had wreck names to match.

I bounced the general coordinates of this wreck off my friend Walter, who also has an extensive list of targets in the lake, and he couldn’t find a name to match either. So once again, I think we have a new target to explore…

The week of August 15th we’re going to make an exploration dive on the Coal Cars.  I have wanted to hit these submerged targets for awhile, so we’re going to make a dive on them first.  They are right up next to the 520 bridge, which can be really rough water depending on the wind conditions. 

Post dive we’ll head to the new coordinates to confirm them one more time; and see if we can locate the wreck with a basic fish finder. If we confirm the position of the wreck, we’ll make a dive on it a short time later. 

PV-2 Harpoon & USRC Scout

Made a couple dives in the lake on Sunday…

The first dive was on the PV-2 Harpoon – a World War II patrol bomber that was ditched after take-off in Sept 1947. It’s a great dive, the plane is stuck nose down in the mud and the tail is broken off so there is opportunity to drop down inside. 50 caliber machine guns still in the turret. Max depth was about 145ft.

The second dive was much shallower but more historic. Back when we were looking for the Avenger we found via side scan the hull of a 60ft ship lying on its side in relatively shallow water (90ft). So our second dive was on this wreck and it turned out to be a great one. 5 of us made the dive. The three man team I was on shot video and took a bow to stern measurement. The second two man team took beam and draft measurements. On the bow of the ship you can still just barely read what we collectively thought was the name, ‘SCOUT.’

Researching vessels by that name later that evening and comparing notes to our length and beam measurements we were able to match Scout to an early 1900’s era Coast Guard Revenue Cutter. One of the first that was gasoline powered. It was based in Port Townsend, WA where its primary purposes were to thwart illegal immigration and opium trade. In 1915 it was transferred via private sale to Puget Sound. Other than that the rest of its history above water remains a mystery.