A rare U.S. Coast Guard vessel made an impressive journey, rising briefly into the air as it concluded its extensive trip from a scrapyard to its new home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
This exceptional USCG Type TR Motor Lifeboat, CG 36381, measuring 36 feet in length, is soon to be a prominent exhibit at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Museum in Whitefish Point.
On October 11, the boat appeared to be “flying” above the museum’s premises for approximately five minutes, marking the culmination of a years-long expedition that began in Maryland and included several stops across the Upper Peninsula before reaching its final destination on Lake Superior.
The delivery of this precious vessel was made possible through the combined efforts of Mertaugh Boat Works in Hessel, Loshaw Crane, and Ken Graham Trucking.
Geoff Hamilton, President of E.J. Mertaugh Boat Works, enthusiastically referred to this day as the “delivery day for a once-in-a-lifetime project.” He praised the exceptional work done by Loshaw Crane in safely transporting the boat and Ken Graham Trucking for delivering it within feet of its new home.
He also expressed deep gratitude to all the staff members, past and present, who contributed to the project’s success, acknowledging the challenges posed by timelines, logistics, weather conditions, and equipment. Hamilton’s gratitude extended to all involved, and he looked forward to showcasing their work for all to see.
The journey of this restored lifeboat began about a decade ago when it was discovered in a boatyard in Maryland, where it was originally destined to be dismantled for its salvageable parts.
However, the fate of the CG 36381 took a different turn thanks to the efforts of friends of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, Jeff Shook and Glen Cathers. Upon learning of its impending destruction, they initiated the process to purchase and transport the vessel to Michigan.
This endeavor was made possible through the generous contributions of David Sutton Brad and Keith Tolles of ADS Transport in Wixom.
The restoration of the lifeboat commenced at Passage Boat Works in Detour and was later taken over by Mertaugh Boat Works.
The comprehensive restoration efforts spanned six years and culminated in the return of the vessel to a location where its predecessors had originally arrived at Whitefish Point back in 1933.
Brad Koster, CEO of E.J. Mertaugh Boat Works, acknowledged the many years and challenges that shaped this project, including the unforeseen obstacle of a pandemic.
However, he expressed satisfaction in seeing the boat placed back in its rightful home at Whitefish Point, emphasizing that the ultimate reward is now for everyone to behold.
Looking ahead, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society plans to host a dedication ceremony for the vessel in the summer of 2024, allowing visitors to appreciate this remarkable addition to the museum’s collection.