Baltimore, MD-75 years ago, on September 14th, 1940, the now-historic first all-steel patrol boat CHARLES D. GAITHER was placed in commission with the Baltimore City Police Department’s marine division. Her name-sake became the first police commissioner of the modern era when the post was consolidated from three positions into the office of a single commissioner. Brigadier General Charles D. Gaither served seventeen years in this capacity from 1920 to 1937, a record that remains unbroken today.
After 31 years with the Baltimore Police Marine Unit, GAITHER transferred to the city’s Fire Department serving as a battalion commander’s command launch. GAITHER’S municipal operations ended in 1972 when she was sold at public auction.
Image by J Douglas Polaski
CHARLES D. GAITHER returned to public service when her ownership was transferred to the Baltimore & Chesapeake Steamboat Company in July 2011 during a National Marina Day ceremony held at Tidewater Yacht Service as a gift from the Vernon “Pete” and Geraldine Johnson family. “The GAITHER is a tangible link to Baltimore’s past and her police and fire departments of today and we wish to honor this long service and important continuing aspect of our harbor,” said Maizie Rocke, vice president of the B&CSC. “We are working to further restore the GAITHER so she can again be seen plying the waters of our harbor.”
B&CSC is an all-volunteer non-profit educational organization that preserves, interprets and supports the industrial maritime heritage of the Chesapeake Bay Region. Since 2011, the GAITHER has been at Tidewater Yacht Service, our valued partner. If you are interested in helping restore the GAITHER or other municipal maritime opportunities, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The GAITHER is rated for coast-wise towing, is 48.5 ft in length, with a 12 ft beam, has a draught of 5 1/2 to 6 feet at her stern and is powered by her original 6-71 Detroit GM engine.
In fulfilling her former owner’s wish to see the GAITHER continue to be a vital part of sharing and teaching the City’s municipal history of Baltimore’s harbor, B&CSC seeks to highlight the vessel’s history, and that of the departments she has served.
GAITHER no longer patrols the harbor shorelines nor responds to alarms with her pilot-house mounted fire monitor. Today, and as long as there are lessons to be learned, GAITHER will seek to ignite ideas and use her decks to serve new generations as they answer the call to become protectors for the Port of Baltimore and the citizens of Chesapeake Bay Country.
Happy 75th Commissioning Day Anniversary!