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Bibb

Historic Image Gallery


We hope that you enjoy this gallery of historic photographs of the Coast Guard cutter Bibb (WPG/WHEC-31).

Unless otherwise noted, the following are official U.S. Coast Guard images.


A photo of the cutter Bibb

"U.S.C.G.C. BIBB [Builder's] #71.  General view of vessel day before launching."; taken at the Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina, 13 January 1937; Photo No. 80-37, File [#] 5795; photographer unknown.


A photo of the cutter Bibb

"U.S.C.G. [sic] BIBB [Builder's] NO. 71; Sponsor's platform and starboard bow view of ship."; taken at the Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina, 13 January 1937, Photo No. 81-37, File #5796; photographer unknown.


A photo of the cutter Bibb

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

USCGC Bibb after launching in January, 1937.  The peace-time armament of the Secretary Class cutters consisted of two 5-inch 51 caliber and two 6-pound signal guns, all mounted forward.  The Hamilton, Bibb, Duane, Spencer and Taney originally carried a seaplane and associated derricks on the after deck.  


A photo of the cutter Bibb

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

Coast Guard Curtiss SOC-4 "Seagull," CG No. V172, assigned to the Bibb, being taken aboard in 1938.  Note the "goalpost" aviation-crane mount, the aircraft handling boom and other associated equipment.  In 1939 Bibb spent three months on temporary duty with the Navy, engaging in joint maneuvers.  Later that year she joined a destroyer squadron "for the assistance of shipping in the North Atlantic."  

In the winter of 1939 Bibb served on the Grand Banks Patrol.  In February 1940, she inaugurated the Atlantic Weather Patrol, taking up station at 35 38' N x 53 21' W and served on weather patrols until she was transferred to Navy control on 11 September 1941.  She was rearmed for combat in October, 1941.  The aircraft and all associated equipment was removed at that time.


A photo of the cutter Bibb

USS George M. Bibb (WPG-31); "Geo. M. Bibb, Looking aft from bow, Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, VA."; Photo No. 2057(41); 27 October 1941; photographer unknown (copy of photo provided to USCG Historian's Office by J. D. Hooper, USCG).

Here Bibb undergoes conversion for combat as an anti-submarine warship and convoy escort in October, 1941.  Modifications included the removal of one of her 5-inch 50 caliber main batteries, the addition of a total of four 3-inch 50 caliber dual-purpose batteries, lighter anti-aircraft armament (including 20mm cannons and .50 caliber machine guns), "Y" gun depth charge projectors, two depth charge tracks at the stern and at some point in the coming months, a British-made high-frequency direction finder (known as HF/DF or "Huff-Duff"), and a surface search radar set.

Bibb was under the command of Commander Roy L. Raney during the convoy battles to come.  He, like the other officers who commanded these cutters, knew his business.  A former officer on board Bibb, Captain Henry C. Keene, Jr., noted:

"Raney was a leader.  Men felt it the minute he took command and there was not a man on the ship who would not go the extra mile for the old man.  The confidence the crew had in their captain seemed to be reflected in his pride and confidence in his crew."

The same could be said of the other Secretary Class cutters, their officers, and their crews.  All were experienced seamen who were prepared to carry the war directly to the U-boats although their training in fighting submarines was scarce to non-existent.  

This photo provides a good view of her forward 5-inch 51-caliber main battery--the one in the foreground, mounted on the main deck, was removed and replaced with a 3-inch 50 caliber dual-purpose battery.


A photo of a Coast Guard cutter.

USS Bibb, CG (WPG-31); no caption/photo number; date/photographer unknown.

Bibb made history after a wolf pack attacked the eastbound convoy SC-118. The cutters Bibb and Ingham were temporarily attached to a British escort force for SC-118's trans-Atlantic journey. It was fortunate for the passengers and crew of the troopship SS Henry Mallory that the Bibb and Ingham were there.  On 7 February 1943, the U-402 torpedoed the Mallory as it straggled behind the convoy. The passengers panicked and leapt overboard. Those who did not make it into a life raft died from hypothermia.  Lookouts aboard the Bibb sighted one of the Mallory's lifeboats and, disobeying an order to return to the convoy, the Bibb's commanding officer, CDR Roy Raney, ordered his cutter to begin rescuing survivors.

Many of the Bibb's crewmen leapt into the water to assist the nearly frozen survivors, and the cutter Ingham assisted. One of the Ingham's crew described the scene, a dreadfully common one along the North Atlantic that year:

"I never saw anything like it, wood all over the place and bodies in life jackets ... never saw so many dead fellows in my whole life. Saw lots of mail bags, boxes, wood, wood splinters, empty life jackets, oars, upturned boats, empty life rafts, bodies, parts of bodies, clothes, cork, and a million other things that ships have in them. I hope I never see another drowned man as long as I live."

Although many of the Mallory's 498 passengers and crew died from hypothermia, the Bibb's crew pulled 202 survivors from the frigid water, while the Ingham's crew saved 33. The Bibb rescued 33 more people from the nearby torpedoed freighter S.S. Kalliopi before returning to the convoy.


A photo of a Coast Guard cutter.

USS Bibb, CG (WAGC-31); "U.S.C.G.C. BIBB (C.G. 71 -- W. 31), Starboard Bow."; 29 January 1945; no photo number; photographer unknown.

With the decrease in the threat by U-boats by 1944 and the increase in the number of available Allied escort vessels, the Navy determined that the 327s would better serve the national security needs of the nation as command and control vessels [known as AGCs] for amphibious landings.  The conversion to AGCs consisted of the removal of most of their heavy armament, the addition of more anti-aircraft weaponry, and the construction of enclosed rooms for the addition of 35 radio receivers and 25 radio transmitters.  

After conversion to an AGC, done in the Charleston Navy Yard between 17 October 1944 and 29 January 1945, Bibb was assigned to duty in the Pacific.  From April to August of 1945 she participated in the assault on Okinawa, surviving numerous kamikaze attacks.  There she served as the flagship for Commander, Mine Craft, Pacific Fleet.

She received credit for the destruction of one Japanese aircraft.


A photo of the cutter Bibb

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

Bibb, circa 1955.  At the end of World War II, each Secretary Class cutter was returned to her peace-time makeup.  Most of the armament was removed, except for the addition of a 40mm anti-aircraft battery, a 5-inch 38 caliber main battery and "mousetrap" anti-submarine armament.  From 1946 to 1973, Bibb was stationed at Boston.  


A photo of the cutter Bibb

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

Bibb after the addition of her new Coast Guard "racing stripe."


A photo of the cutter Bibb

"Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. . .The U.S. Coast Guard Gunboat Bibb (WPG-31) departs Pearl Harbor."; 26 June 1968; US Navy Photo No. KN-16854; photo by PH3 R. Hartkopp.

The Bibb departs for duty in Vietnamese waters, where she served from 4 July 1968 to 28 February 1969 with Coast Guard Squadron One.


A photo of the cutter Bibb

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.


A photo of the cutter Bibb

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.


A photo of the cutter Bibb

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.


A photo of the cutter Bibb

"HEADED FOR HOME. . . One of USCGC BIBB'S (WHEC-31) small boats heads for BIBB with the survivors of a stricken supply boat. . .Search and Rescue at its best."; No date/photo number; photographer unknown.


A photo of the cutter Bibb

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

Copy of photo provided to USCG Historian's Office by J. D. Hooper, USCG.


Last Modified 11/17/2014