Amagansett U.S. Life-Saving Station 1902-1944
The Amagansett Station was constructed on Atlantic Avenue in 1902, one of a network of thirty life-saving stations on the South Shore of Long Island. Through each night and in bad weather the crew at these stations kept watch from the lookout tower and by patrolling the beach. Discovering a ship in distress, the life-savers would perform a rescue by launching their surfboat or by firing a line to the ship and taking people off with a breeches buoy. From 1902 to 1937 the crew of the Amagansett Life-Saving Station, most of whom were experienced local fishermen and shore whalers, kept watch over this beach and rescued sailors and passengers from a number of shipwrecks.
The Life-Saving Service and the Lighthouse Service were the two federal programs intended to increase the safety of coastal navigation. These two services were later joined by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Amagansett Station complements the Montauk Point Lighthouse in recalling that era of our maritime history when ships sailing the ocean provided the principal means of transporting goods and people in coastal America.
W.W. II Significance
The Amagansett Station is associated with a notable incident of the Second World War. Coast Guardsmen John Cullen had just begun a beach patrol from this station early in the morning of June 13, 1942, when he encountered four Nazi agents who had landed from a U-boat. Cullen returned to the Amagansett Station to report the incident. Later in the morning, Chief Boatswain’s Mate Warren Barnes brought into the boat room four boxes of explosives, which his men had found buried in the sand. After one of the would-be saboteurs turned himself in to the F.B.I., the others were apprehended and tried. This Amagansett incident led to the establishment, only a month later, of the Coast Guard Beach Patrol, which grew to consist of 24,000 men and was an important component of coastal defense during the war.
Commemoration of the Interception of the Saboteurs
Each June at the Amagansett Station, we recognize our small but strategic role in W.W. II’s history in helping to foil the enemy’s plot to use explosives to terrorize Americans and sabotage U.S. infrastructure. Watch a special broadcast from LTV On Demand which commemorates the interception of a Nazi-led mission known as Operation Pastorius by our own Amagansett Coast Guardsman. Originally aired on June 13, 2020, the 78th anniversary of the saboteur landing, educator David Cataletto provides a brief introduction, followed by the original Movietone Newsreel from 1942 and commentary by Peter Garnham, director of the Amagansett Historical Association, together with footage of the 2012 reenactment.
Watch a commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the interception of the saboteurs with a staged reading of firsthand accounts of Coast Guard personnel on duty when the saboteurs came ashore, including dialogue from the encounter on the beach between saboteur George Dasch and Seaman John Cullen. The reading took the form of a 1940s-style radio broadcast titled “Cavalcade of America,” produced and directed by Hugh King, who presided, together with Elena Prohaska Glinn, Ted Hults, Sonny Sireci, David Cataletto, and Isabel Carmichael. Videotaped at the Amagansett Station.
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