POTD: The Coast Guard’s 80 Year Old Line Throwers

    Coast Guard line thrower

    Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan Smith, a crew member aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay, home-ported in Sault Ste Marie, Mich., demonstrates the proper way to fire the shoulder line-throwing gun during training on the cutter, while moored in Sault Ste Marie, July 30, 2013. The line-throwing gun is used to pass the messenger line for the towing hawser to another vessel in heavy weather conditions. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman James Ash)

    What’s the best way to pass a line between massive naval vessels in rolling seas with the deck pitching? Firing it from a rifle of course! The US Coast Guard continue to use specially adapted Springfield M1903s, in service since the 1930s, for the job.

    1903 line thrower in action

    Seaman Ronald Benke, aboard Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, shoots a line throwing gun, used to send a messenger line during a towing exercise with the Coast Guard Cutter Naushon, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in the Gulf of Alaska. The SPAR is a 225-foot buoy tender stationed in Kodiak, Alaska. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Justin Hergert)

    1903 line thrower coast guard armoury

    Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Brandon Kittrell inspects the bolt action and slide catch of an M1903 U.S. Springfield Rifle at the Coast Guard Armory in Port Clinton, Ohio, Feb. 18, 2015. The rifle has been modified to shoot rope to a vessel in distress during an emergency where out boats are unable to get alongside them. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin)

    The smoothbore guns fire a rod-like projectile using a blank cartridge, with the line/rope attached. Before the M1903s were adapted special .45-70 trapdoor Springfields were used. Today the Coast Guard continue to use the M1903 line guns alongside the more modern M16s fitted with line throwing adaptors. The Royal Canadian Navy uses a similarly adapted C7 rifle.

    M16 line thrower

    Petty Officer 3rd Class Anderson Ernst uses a line throwing gun to help pass the tow line to the 65-foot fishing troller, Black Beauty, on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, off the coast of New Hampshire. Coast Guard cutter Campbell, homeported in Kittery, Maine, towed the vessel to Gloucester, Massachusetts. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

    The US Navy make use of both M16-based line throwers and older M14s adapted with M87 line throwing kits.

    M14 line thrower 2008

    David Jones, aviation ordnanceman, fires an M-14 rifle with an M87 line throwing adaptor to cast a line from the aircraft carrier USS George Washington to the guided-missile frigate USS Boone during a fuel replenishment at sea. George Washington is conducting carrier qualifications and flight deck certification before changing homeport to Yokosuka, Japan, where she will relieve the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk as the Navy’s only forward deployed aircraft carrier. (Photo by Seaman Apprentice Phillip Pavlovich)

    M14 line thrower

    Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Gritzmacher, gunner’s mate, fires an M-14 rifle with an M87 line-throwing adaptor to cast a line from the amphibous dock landing ship USS Ashland to the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Patuxant during a fuel replenishment at sea. Ashland is deployed to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility as part of Nassau expeditionary Strike Group. (Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mandy Hunsucker)

    H/T: Miles V