The crew aboard the USCGC William Tate (WLM 560) set the historic Francis Scott Key Memorial Buoy Wednesday in the Patapsco River near the Francis Scott Key Bridge.
Formalized as an annual duty in 1980, the 2022 commissioning of the buoy marks the 42nd spring setting of the star-spangled buoy by a Coast Guard cutter.
The specially designed buoy marks the approximate location where Key witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814 from an American truce ship. Following the Battle of Baltimore, Key witnessed the rising of Fort McHenry’s large garrison flag over the ramparts and was inspired to write lyrics that would later become the U.S. national anthem.
“The buoy commemorates Key, revered author of the poem “Defense of Fort M’Henry,” later retitled “The Star Spangled Banner,” said Lt. Corey Engle, the commanding officer of the William Tate.
Engle added that the buoy commemorates the citizens and soldiers who endured the siege of Baltimore.
The buoy, which sits between the Francis Scott Key Bridge and Fort McHenry, is set each summer and removed just before the winter. The buoy has been an attraction for boaters and tourists for decades.
The crew of the USCGC James Rankin (WLM 555), which is homeported in Baltimore and services more than 450 aids to navigation each year, traditionally sets the buoy but is undergoing a well-deserved maintenance period.
The William Tate is homeported in Philadelphia. The cutter’s crew is responsible for the maintenance of 262 buoys along the Atlantic Coast, Delaware Bay and upper Chesapeake Bay. Additional crew missions include ice breaking, marine environmental protection, and maritime law enforcement.