Located in the Truman Annex, the USCGC Ingham Museum is the perfect spot to see the quieter side of Key West. The Ingham is a 327 foot long, 6200 horsepower cutter. She held 300 men and served in World War II, the Korean war and Vietnam. She has received 35 awards and was the most decorated vessel of her time. She was commissioned in 1936 and served for 52 years, until her retirement in 1988.
The Ingham’s first permanent home , in 1936, was Port Angeles, Washington. There she participated in the annual Bering Sea patrols.
As part of the “Grand Banks Patrols” she moved to Boston in 1939.
In 1940, she was assigned to weather patrols.
On December 15, 1942, the Ingham sank German U-boat U-626. Later she served in the Mediterranean and served as the flagship for many landings in the Pacific Theater.
During this time, the Ingham carried a crew of 200 enlisted men and 18 officers. She was a mini-destroyer and served as the Command Ship in MacArthur’s Maravelles, Corregidor and Manila campaigns.
The Ingham served during both Korea and Vietnam. She was awarded two Presidential Citations for her Vietnam service – a rare accomplishment. She is the most decorated ship in the Coast Guard and her ribbons and battle stars can be seen on her bridge.
In 1980, the Ingham served as one of the 1700 ships that helped hundreds of Cuban immigrants reach the US during the Mariel Boatlift. It was during this time Cuba experienced a sharp downturn in its economy; which prompted the mass boatlift. Approximately 10,000 Cubans sought asylum by taking refuge at the Peruvian embassy in Cuba. The Cuban government stated anyone who wanted to leave could. By October 1980, over 125,000 Cubans had reached Florida.
The Ingham is a National Historic Landmark and is a national memorial to all Coast Guard men and women who lost their lives in battle from World War II through Vietnam.
The museum is operated by veterans as a non-profit organization and is open Tuesday through Saturday 10am – 4pm.
Friday night come aboard and watch the sunset. A small admission charge covers your first drink. Sit, relax, listen to great 1940’s music and watch a beautiful Key West sunset away from the crowds.
(credit: USCGCingham.com; KeyWestHistoricMarkerTour.org, wikipedia.org)