The Coast Guard Mascot: Sinbad the Sailor Man…er, Dog.

The United States Marine Corps has an English Bulldog Mascot named Chesty. There have been many Chestys over the decades, but the US Coast Guard also had one before regulations banned such a Coastie from being on a ship: Sinbad. The mixed breed dog was ‘enlisted’ by Chief Boatswain’s Mate A. A. “Blackie” Rother of the USCG Cutter “George W. Campbell.” He was not a slacker…ok, maybe he was, but he was a definite member of the crew.

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Sinbad could have ended up as a stray without an owner, since Rother’s 4-legged gift for his girlfriend fell through. But the crew wanted him on board. After all, Sinbad drank whiskey with beer chasers, coffee, and exhibited the attributes of seamanship. So he enlisted on the Coast Guard paperwork with his paw print, and given his very own service numbers and a bunk. He was even listed as a member of the “Society of Polar Explorers,” though it is unlikely he ever actually made it to the North Pole. He also had to stay below decks when the shooting started during WWII.

Sinbad – R-at the bar, L-recovering from a hangover

The dog wasn’t just for fun. He had a watch, a general quarters duty station, and his own bunk. Sinbad certainly didn’t roll over for anyone. When the Coast Guard wanted to use him as a PR tool in allied ports, the pup raised hell from Morocco to Greenland.

The Campbell saw plenty of action. She once rammed an enemy U-boat and was also strafed by a Nazi aircraft in the Mediterranean. During a fight with U-606, the ship was severely damaged and the CO ordered that essential personnel only would remain on the Campbell. Sinbad stayed aboard ship…

The precocious pup did earn medals, however. His awards include the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Navy Occupation Service Medal.

The crew loved Sinbad, even if no one really took responsibility for the dog. They said he earned his enlistment by drinking coffee, whiskey with beer chasers, and having his own shore liberty. He was reportedly the first off the ship at every port.

He would hit the bars hard, hopping up on empty bar stools, where his whiskey and beer habit was tended to by every bar in the area. He never paid for a drink but returned the ship “bombed” every night, with only an aspirin to tend to his hangover the next day. Sometimes his drinking led to a Captain’s Mast. He was demoted in rank for actions that generally made him a bad dog. 

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Sinbad endured Captain’s Mast twice, and a demotion in rank and reinstatement several times. Greenland banned him, and shore leave in Casablanca caused a diplomatic incident. His presence was a giant sized morale booster, not just for the crew of the Campbell, but for those who read about him. Captain James Hirschfield told the crew that nothing would happen to the Campbell as long as Sinbad was aboard, and the dog’s statue in remembrance of that statement is displayed on the mess deck of the current Famous-class Cutter Campbell. No one but a Chief Petty Officer (Sinbad’s rank when he was discharged) is allowed to touch the statue or the dog’s bone on his nose. (Which is wise advice for dealing with living dog as well).

Sinbad is a salty sailor but he’s not a good sailor. He’ll never rate gold hashmarks nor Good Conduct Medals. He’s been on report several times and he’s raised hell in a number of ports. On a few occasions, he has embarrassed the United States Government by creating disturbances in foreign zones. Perhaps that’s why Coast Guardsmen love Sinbad, he’s as bad as the worst and as good as the best of us.

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Sinbad spent 11 years aboard the Campbell. When he was discharged in 1948, he was sent to the Barnegat Light station in New Jersey, where he reportedly spent his last 3 years of life hanging out at the bar and watching the ocean. He passed away in 1951.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Sinbad.

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Featured photo: Sinbad publicity photo (public domain)

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