(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
The MLB 4431 lined up with its replacement, a 42-foot boat, in Chatham Harbor.
By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff
The Coast Guard bid goodbye today to the last 44-foot motor life boat in its fleet, a sturdy craft based on Cape Cod with nearly five decades in service.
(US Coast Guard)
"It's unfortunate, but she's worked hard and she's tired. To get 46 years out of a boat that's doing the type of operations that it's doing -- it's time to let her go," said Senior Chief Boatswain's Mate David C. Jonason, officer in charge of the station, who also sometimes operates Motor Life Boat 44301.
The Coast Guard held a ceremony at the station, complete with an admiral and a congressman and flyover by a jet and helicopter, to mark the end of the 44-foot boat era.
The boats were designed to crash through surf and power through heavy seas, with the ability to roll over completely and then right themselves. They've saved countless lives, Coast Guard officials said. The boats have been gradually replaced in most areas by a new 47-foot boat, said Jonason. At the Chatham station, the replacement will be a 42-foot craft.
Motor Life Boat 44301 went into service in 1963 in Chatham. Over the years, it has also served stretches at Station Cape Cod Canal, and the Coast Guard's National Motor Life Boat School in Washington state. It will be sent to the Coast Guard Museum in New London, Conn.
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