Monday, October 26, 2015

The entrance to Mobile Bay has seen its share of tragedies but probably none as horrific as what occurred after July 11, 1853 when the barque MILTIADES sailed into the bay and anchored off the Dog River Bar. The bilge water inside this ship contained the mosquito wigglers of the species which carries yellow fever and by the time the frost of November killed off these mosquitos, 1331 Alabamians rested in their graves.

DAUPHIN ISLAND DURING WWII: The entrance to Mobile Bay acted as a safe haven for Allied convoys sailing through the German submarine infested waters of the Gulf of Mexico during WWII. The following quote comes from a speech made by Lieutenant Commander Harry L. Hargrove, U.S.C.G. Temporary Reserve and President of the Mobile Bay Bar Pilots Association. The occasion for the speech was the decommissioning ceremonies for the Mobile Bar Pilot vessels which had served the U.S. Coast Guard during WWII.

"Our pilots have magnificently performed their arduous duties and have shared substantially in achieving victory. They have done their full share in that enormous nationwide job, handling, during 1944, 120,000 assignments to bring our ships safely into dock and guide them out to sea again, under the most adverse conditions. During the height of the submarine menace in 1942 and 1943, the channel lights were dimmed and other wartime precautions—common to all ports-were observed in Mobile. This meant a double load of risk and responsibility for our pilots. Our harbor, with its narrow channel, is becoming more crowded with returning ships each day. Our great and steadily increasing problem is what to do with the ships. We are often at a loss to find docking space for the big vessels that continue to arrive at this port since the end of the war, at a rapid rate."

One of these Mobile bay pilot boats which served as a U.S. Coast Guard ship during WWII, the 90 foot 2-masted schooner ALABAMA, still sails out of the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Anyone interested in understanding the incredible historical significance of Dauphin Island must read this  important document prepared for the Historic American Engineering Record to describe the story of the Mobile Bar Pilots' Vessel ALABAMA. This paper includes the 300 year history of the extremely dangerous job performed by the pilots of Mobile Bay along with the story of many of pilot vessels those men have owned.

The Mobile Bay Bar Pilots' vessel ALABAMA (1926-1966) still sails out of the harbor of Vineyard Haven on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

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