Old Coast Guard cutter has new mission with Sea Scouts
Point Glass is an 82-foot patrol boat built by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1962 as one of 79 “Point-class” cutters launched between 1960 and 1970. She saw active service with the Coast Guard until 2000, stationed at bases from Tacoma to Fort Lauderdale. Her mission was customs enforcement, drug interdiction, search and rescue and harbor security.
Point Glass is still active today, but with a mission of introducing new generations to seafaring on offshore trips ranging from Corpus Christi to Beaumont. She’s well suited to the work. With her twin Caterpillar diesel engines, she has a range of more than 1,000 sea miles, sleeps 10, and has a fully equipped galley and heads.
“It’s a classic boat,” said Chris Kemp, a Galveston native and former Sea Scout who often serves as an engineer on her trips.
“I like old things,” he said. “I’ve been working on Point Glass for five years.”
This fascination with working with old boats — boats with a history — is common in these parts. Witness the generations of volunteers who have looked after the 1877 sailing ship Elissa in Galveston’s harbor over the 33 years since her restoration in Galveston, or the crew that keeps the 1936 shrimp boat Santa Maria operational. Point Glass is not as old as those vessels, but she’s older than Kemp, and she does share in rich a history.
Twenty-six of her Point-class sisters were deployed to Vietnam during the war there, and with the “Vietnamization” policy were transferred to the Navy of South Vietnam. Point Glass participated in several dramatic rescues with the Coast Guard and won the Meritorious Unit commendation in 1992 for one of them.
By the turn of the 21st century, the Point-class cutters were replaced by the new 87-foot Marine Protector class. Many of the old class were transferred to South and Central American navies and are still active.
Point Glass was decommissioned in 2000, and her ownership was transferred to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. With few modifications, she was put to work as a dive support and research vessel at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, protecting the northernmost living coral reef in U.S. waters.
In 2006, the vessel was sold to Point Glass LLC, a corporate entity formed by Charles and Rosemary Doolin, to operate her as a Sea Scout training ship. It is the Doolins’ generosity that has funded the ambitious new Sea Scout Base Galveston, 7509 Broadway on the island and its many programs. Their original concept included a berth at the Offatts Bayou site able to accommodate the 6-foot draft of Point Glass.
Today, she is captained by P.J. Nelson, who this year also took the helm as executive director of Sea Scout Base Galveston.
“We try to incorporate Scouts into everything we do,” said Nelson, referring to both of his roles. Neither Point Glass LLC nor Sea Scout Base Galveston are officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, but it has been Charles Doolin’s dream to get Sea Scouts into offshore waters, and Point Glass is exactly the right boat for the job.