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Beginning in 1952, the US Navy sponsored a research & development program to construct & evaluate a number of hydrofoil test-craft. As a result of this program, in April 1966, the Navy's Bureau of Ships awarded contracts for two competing hydrofoil gunboats, the PGH-1 to the Grumman Corporation, and the PGH-2 to the Boeing Company. The PGH-1 was completed in March 1968 and christened FLAGSTAFF in honor of Flagstaff, Arizona. She completed acceptance trials and was delivered to the Navy Amphibious Force Pacific on November 7, 1968. In November 1969, FLAGSTAFF was transported to South Vietnam and deployed as a patrol craft for river operations out of Danang in Operation Market Time. In 1970, after completing her Vietnam tour, she was returned to San Diego for operations with Boat Support Unit One, Amphibious Forces Pacific.
On November 4, 1974, she was loaned to the U. S. Coast Guard on the West Coast for a period of testing to evaluate the utility of a hydrofoil craft as a Coast Guard cutter. This testing continued until February 1975 when FLAGSTAFF was returned to the Navy.
On September 29, 1976, the Coast Guard again took possession of FLAGSTAFF to enable the Service to do a long-term evaluation in an actual operational environment. The ship was dispatched to Boston, MA where she underwent repairs and cold weather modifications. On March 2, 1977, at the Coast Guard Support Center in Boston, wearing Coast Guard colors, FLAGSTAFF was formally commissioned as the Coast Guard cutter (WPGH-1). Lt. Terrance Hart assumed command of the cutter and her crew of 12 enlisted personnel. On July 17, 1977 she was placed in active status and home-ported in Woods Hole, MA. She operated out of her homeport for a period of 16 months. As part of the Coast Guard Fleet, FLAGSTAFF performed duties of law enforcement, search and rescue operations, and enforcement in the new 200-mile fisheries economic zone.
FLAGSTAFF was decommissioned on September 30, 1978. This decision was based, in part, on the cost of needed repairs and the fact that the Coast Guard felt that sufficient information on the use of hydrofoil craft had been derived from the evaluation program.
FLAGSTAFF and the other Navy R&D hydrofoil ships and craft served to lay a solid technology foundation for the design and deployment of a squadron of six Navy Patrol Hydrofoil Missile (PHM) ships that were later built by Boeing.
-- Wm. M. Ellsworth, P.E.
The US Coast Guard first evaluated FLAGSTAFF from Nov 74 thru Feb 75
USCG Official Photos
In Sep 76, USCG again took possession of FLAGSTAFF
[18 Jul 00] I have viewed FLAGSTAFF and shot 4 rolls of film. The ship is in very good condition. Does not have 2 diesels for generators, 2 main diesels for propulsion or the jet drive units for HB operation. The turbine is present and seems untouched since it was surplused. The flagstaff only has one turbine. At the time it didn't occur to me to get the numbers off its data plate. The hull/deck is sandblasted 85%. The plumbing has been completed about 80%. The wiring needs a good electrician but the majority is intact. Foils are in good shape, although the rear foil might need a bearing housing. Front foils have minor rust. John Altoonian (father) accomplished quite a bit. Sand blasting, cleaning and painting would be very light except for the propulsion room, generator/jet drive room and manual hydraulic room. For the money asked, US$30,000.00, the ship is worth at least that. Unfortunately, Mr. Altoonian (son) has set a firm 1 Aug 00 scrapping date. -- Duane A. Leiker, Pres/CEO; International Submarine Museum, 4230 Trumbo Ct.; Fairfax VA 22033; phone: (703) 359-7266 (DLeiker@cox.net)
[18 Aug 98, updated 22 Nov 00] Just noticed that FLAGSTAFF is being sold as a partnership and will be used as a promotional gimmick for boat shows and races on the East Coast of the USA. -- Ken Plyler (Kfppfk@aol.com) [project discontinued due to death of the owner - Editor]
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