Commission on May 7, 1927, the Coast Guard cutter NORTHLAND (WPG 49), was a cruising class of gunboat specially designed for Arctic operations and built at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry-dock Corp., Newport News, Virginia. Prior to World War II her homeports were alternately San Francisco, Oakland, and Seattle. She serve primarily on the Bearing Sea Patrol, where she performed “everything under the midnight sun.”
NORTHLAND departed the West Coast in 1938 on her last Arctic cruise, after which she decommission. In June1939, however, she recommissioned and transferred to Boston, Massachusetts to prepare for the second Byrd Antarctic Expedition. However, with the eruption of war in Europe in September, she was withdrawn from the expedition.
In May 1940, NORTHLAND entered New York Navy Yard to be outfitted for special duty in Greenland. She embarked on her first Greenland Survey and visited harbors in order to determine the best location for patrol forces. While conducting this survey she searched for victims of ships sunk in the North Atlantic. During one of her many mercy missions, she was involved in a near catastrophe. Only six miles from the scene of battle between Bismarck and the British ships that finally sank the giant German warship, Northland was mistaken by the British for a German ship and very nearly taken under fire.
NORTHLAND set out April 7, 1941 on a two-month cruise to assist in the South Greenland Survey Expedition. While conducting this survey she searched for victims of ships sunk in the North Atlantic. The South Greenland Patrol was organized with cutters MODOC, COMANCHE, and RARITAN and the former survey ship BOWDOIN. A month later, the Northeast Greenland Patrol was organized with cuter NORTHLAND, former interior Department ship NORTH STAR, and BEAR, with overall command falling on Captain Edward H. Smith, USCG.
NORTHLAND returned to the Treasury Department January 1, 1946 and remained on weather patrol duty until she decommissioned March 27. She was sold to an American firm surreptitiously for the Israeli “underground.” She then sailed for the Mediterranean in 1947.
Although sold for scrap January 3, 1947, NORTHLAND was renamed Jewish State, and transported Jewish refugees to Palestine. In 1948 she was renamed Eilat and became the flagship of the infant Israeli Navy. Later, she became a training ship. In 1955, the ship was renamed Matzpen, serving as a barracks or depot hulk. The ship was scrapped in 1961.
The NORTHLAND received two battle stars for Warld War II service.
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