My favorite exhibit at the Maritime Museum in Astoria was this boat – Coast Guard Lifeboat CG-44300. It’s an actual boat, retired from service after 19 years of active duty and 15 years as a training boat. It had an incredible run on active duty, and now it’s spiffed up, as shiny and clean as if it were a replica, demonstrating an ocean rescue.
The CG-44300 was a 44′ prototype boat, self-righting and self-bailing, that was used along the Oregon coast in order to be tested in extreme weather and large waves; it passed its tests with flying colors. During its career, it evidently rolled over several times, was pitchpoled once (rolled front to back end-over-end), and retired only when an engine was damaged on a rescue mission.
One of its most unbelievable stories – to crib directly off the informative placard – is this: one evening when the 44300 was moored in a boathouse in Yaquina Bay, a 10,000 ton lumber ship lost steering control and ran into the Lifeboat, plowing it through some docks and under another boathouse, where it had to stay, presumed unsalvageable, while the other crash wreckage was cleared away. But when it was freed, it bobbed right up out of the water and righted itself, ready for use again.
It definitely deserves its place of honor on display at the front of the museum.