The 1915 Wild Cat
A Working Vessel
The 1915 launching of the Milton built “Wild Cat” was in far too many ways, different.
The ship did not have the graceful finely shaped hull of other Milton built scooners, sloops, which
slid into the Broadkill in past years. The gasoline engine powered ship was launched with no band to play music nor were there a cheering throng of citizens, no community celebration.
However, when the modest fishing vessel slipped into the Broadkill, there began a unique
career. The 60 foot Wild Cat could not compare with the five mast schooners that were 150 feet in
length, with sail. She had the noisey gasoline engine to power her. Her owner used her for fishing
for the first two years and in 1917 the Wild Cat was purchased by the navy and used as a a patrol
boat for WWI service.
Following the war the Wild Cat was transferred to the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey , and
was loaded aboard a freighter for the trip to Pacific Ocean through the Panama Canal, then was sent
to the northwest to map the Alaska coast. A. M. Simemsted who served on the Wild Cat in Alaska gave this account; “ The crew quarters were very small, four bunks, two high, with mess table between, there were four portholes in the crew quarters, which needed to be closed much of the time.
Simemsted told that the food was of the finest. In addition to the staple things, there were salmon,
halibut, crab, clams, teal, mallard and trout. “
The survey crew was made to go ashore and climb the coastal mountains to place their survey
tragets and bench marks which in the deep snow was much difficult.
Wild Cat was in service until 1941 when she was hauled out of the Alaskan waters at King
Cove and stripped of everything of value, the hull remained on shore until 1949 when it was bought
for $1 to become a finging boat again, that proved to be too costly and she was abandoned , the last
Milton Broadkill vessel, not worth the single dollar her owner had paid for her.
Ssource: Michael Morgan's Delaware Diary, Coast Press, 2 August 2007.