US Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor
10 Harbor Dr., Wilmette, IL 60091
USCG Station Wilmette Harbor is located in Wilmette, Illinois. It was opened on June 8, 1931. This station replaced the old Evanston Station that had grown out of lifeboats operated by student of Northwestern University in the 1870s. The property was returned to the university. Wilmette Lifeboat Station, better known as Wilmette Harbor Station fell under the jurisdiction of the Chicago Division of the Northern Area District after the reorganization of 1935.
A tragic incident occurred in Wilmette Harbor in early May 1951 that cost the lives of the pilot of a crashed plane and of five men from a rescue crew manning a vessel from the Navy’s Great Lakes Training Center. Wilmette Station had been closed since October of 1950 because of the shoaling of the channel entrance to the harbor. The station, which may have been permanently closed otherwise was once again deemed necessary and reopened during the last week of May. In the night of October 28, 1951, between 1 and 2 a.m. radio contact was lost to CG 30315, manned by BM3 Robert Sawyer and EN1 Max Wage. The vessel was out on the lake to search for a hull with three duck hunters that was reported missing. The hull was found a half-mile off the Waukegan Harbor entrance. One of the hunters’ bodies was recovered, the others were lost. CG 30315 was never found. Wilmette Harbor Station personnel participated in the search for United Airlines Flight 380 that had crashed into Lake Michigan on August 16, 1965. All 24 passengers and 8 crew members of the plane from LaGuardia headed for O’Hare Airport were dead.
Station Wilmette Harbor’s missions include Search and Rescue, Maritime Law Enforcement, Boating Safety, and security for special marine events, including Presidential security zones. The unit’s area of responsibility covers Lake Michigan from Great lakes, IL to downtown Chicago, IL, to include half way across the lake. Station Wilmette Harbor conducts an average of 90 to 100 Search and Rescue cases each year.
Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan is comprised of 21 Coast Guard Stations/Units that are responsible for 1,638 miles of shoreline and approximately 19,000 square miles of surface water. The Area of Responsibility for Sector Lake Michigan covers four states: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan; in addition to the majority of Lake Michigan, numerous inter-coastal waterways, the Chicago River, and 138 miles of the Illinois Des Plaines river system. Sector Lake Michigan’s missions are accomplished by a dedicated workforce of 541 Active Duty, 208 Reserve, and 16 civilian personnel. The Sector’s vessel inventory includes 53 boats: two 47′ Motor Lifeboats, twelve 45′ Response Boat – Medium, nineteen 29′ Response Boat – Small (Gen II), one 49′ BUSL, and three 21′ trailerable aids to navigation TANBs, plus 14 ice skiffs and two 22′ airboats.
The Ninth Coast Guard District is responsible for all Coast Guard operations throughout the five Great Lakes, the Saint Lawrence Seaway and parts of the surrounding states including 6,700 miles of shoreline and 1,500 miles of the international border with Canada. The 6,000 active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary men and women who make up the Ninth District deliver multi-mission services in search and rescue, maritime safety and security, environmental protection, maritime law enforcement, aids to navigation and icebreaking.
Arriving at USCG Station Wilmette Harbor
The nearest major airport is Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD / KORD). This airport has international and domestic flights from Chicago, Illinois and is 21 miles from the center of Wilmette, IL.
Another major airport is Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW / KMDW), which has international and domestic flights from Chicago, Illinois and is 29 miles from Wilmette, IL.
Sector Lake Michigan’s missions are accomplished by a dedicated workforce of 541 Active Duty, 208 Reserve, and 16 civilian personnel.