History of the Mariners and Marlin in the U.S. Coast Guard

Official History USCG (uscg.mil)

Martin PBM-3/5 Mariner

The Coast Guard acquired 27 Martin PBM-3 during the first half of 1943. In late 1944, the service acquired 41 PBM-5 models and more were delivered in the latter half of 1945. Ten were still in service in 1955 although all were gone from the inventory by 1956. These flying boats became the backbone of the long-range aerial search and rescue efforts of the Coast Guard in the early post-war years.

As of 31 October 1944 the Coast Guard’s PBM’s were stationed at the following Coast Guard Air Stations: five PBM-3’s at Elizabeth City; one PBM-3C at Miami; two PBM-3S’s at Port Angeles; two PBM-3S’s at St. Petersburg; two PBM-3S’s at Salem; one PBM-3C and three PBM-3S’s at San Diego; and two PBM-3S’s at San Francisco.

Martin P5M-1G/2G Marlin

The Coast Guard acquired seven of the P5M-1G flying-boats directly from the Glenn L. Martin Company beginning in October 1953, although the first did not enter Coast Guard service until 20 November 1953. The service then acquired four of the new P5M-2G flying boats, distinguished from their earlier brethren by their high-mounted vertical stabilizer (referred to as a “T” tail), beginning in 1961, according to Pearcy. Photos in the Coast Guard Historian’s Office files, however, indicate that some were delivered as early as 1955. These four P5M-2G’s were based at air stations St. Petersburg, San Diego, and San Francisco. Two P5Ms eventually served with Air Detachment Bermuda.

The P5Ms primarily flew off shore to rescue injured seamen off of merchant or fishing vessels and returning them to shore for medical treatment. For example, on 5 July 1957 a P5M Martin seaplane from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, San Francisco made an offshore landing at the extreme operating range of 950 miles southwest of San Francisco to remove a seriously ill seaman, who had been transferred from the merchant vessel Kirribilli to USS George

With the decrease in the need for such medical evacuations far out to sea and the high cost in operating these large flying boats, the P5Ms were transferred to the Navy between May and December in 1960.

The P5M Marlin was the last flying boat in the Coast Guard’s inventory.

More articles are found in the Winter 2011 MMA Newsletter.

History of the Mariners and Marlin in the U.S. Coast Guard / Official History USCG (uscg.mil)
Airmen Saved From Sea / Port Angeles Evening News, Port Angeles WA, September 26, 1959 (Seattle AP)
OFFICIAL RECORD: Second VP-42 / Michael D. Roberts
The Last Mariner Deployment / Bill Laux (then LTJG, USN)
The Return Flight to San Diego / Harry E. Belflower (VP-46), Received October, 2000
P8 and MPRF Community Update / By Rear Admiral Michael W. Hewitt, Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group

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One thought on “History of the Mariners and Marlin in the U.S. Coast Guard

  1. Chief Martin Bowley (Active duty Coast Guard) says:

    Good morning All,

    I’m looking for any info on a AMM1 George R. A. Tracy if you could assist. We are refurbishing Tracy Hall and his historical items and history got lost many years ago. Please assist with any info, pictures, etc. All I have are pictures of the mariner plane and what members perished in the accident. Thank you for your time and efforts.

    P.S. We also, would like to contact AMM1 Tracy’s family to attend the re-opening of Tracy Hall. Please pass any info on the family members also.


    MKC Martin A. Bowley
    Sector San Diego Engineering
    2710 N. Harbor Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619)278-7069 (O)
    (949)462-4533 (C)

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