September 11, 2015 | Posted in War Dogs


Sinbad & Crewmates 1943

Sinbad was a mongrel who came into the world around 1937 and wove his way into the hearts of the sailors he served with aboard the USCG ship Campbell. This black, white, and brown bag of pluck and loyalty came aboard the ship in rather strange circumstances that the crew in hindsight considered propitious. The Chief Boatswain’s Mate A. A. “Blackie” Rother obtained Sinbad as a gift for his girlfriend; she couldn’t accept the dog because of restrictions in her housing society. And so, the dog was now a part of the crew that was quick to notice the animal’s adaptability to a sailor’s life. Sinbad, after all, is one of the most famous fictional sailors – the hero of many a tale from the Arabian Nights.

Sinbad was a sailor dog through and through, so much that when liberty was granted and sailors would hit the shores for recreation, he was the first off the ship. He would bar hop with his mates and displayed no discomfort in guzzling down coffee, whiskey, and beer chasers. On board ship, the dog would stand guard with his human fellow sailors and choose one every night to share a bunk with. However, he did have a bunk of his own…he was after all a certified sailor in the U.S Coast Guard with his paw print on the enlistment papers and his own service record. Speaking of service records, Sinbad got on the wrong side of authorities on more than one occasion for which military disciplinary proceedings were initiated against him. But he wouldn’t have taken this to his canine heart. In fact, Captain James Hirschfield believed that Sinbad was something of a good luck charm and a talisman for the ship and that so long as he was aboard, the ship was safe. Those were the days when fighting in the North Atlantic was at its fiercest. The Campbell’s duty was to escort merchant trading vessels that were being hunted by German U-boats. Publicity pictures from the time show our hero wearing a helmet and standing guard on deck.

Sinbad never saw direct action as during confrontations, he would be packed off to below the deck area to keep him away from the sound of booming guns.

The Campbell saw direct action when it took on the German U-boat 606; the ship got the better of the German sea wolf which it managed to sink by ramming it. The Campbell suffered damage and had to be towed to Canada for repairs. It may be worth mentioning that the Campbell was no ordinary cutter, by the time the ship was decommissioned in 1982, it had earned the moniker “The Queen of the Seas”.

Sinbad served for 11 years on the Campbell. He retired on 21th September, 1948 and was taken to the Barnegat Light station in New Jersey. This was his home till he lived. He was often seen sitting out and gazing at the sea; most probably reminiscing about his glory days.

Sinbad died on 30th December, 1951 and was buried at the base of the station’s flagpole. Thus came to an end the saga of a coastguardsman who logged in more hours at sea than many a sailor and is considered to be the first U.S Coast Guard sailor to have been the subject of a biography.