U.S. Coast Guard
Combat Cutters of World War II

A Historic Image Gallery

The "Secretary Class" 327-foot Cutters


U. S. Coast Guard Gunboats & other Coast Guard-warships: 1939-1945 

The Coast Guard's fleet of cutters and craft first began sailing into harm's way on the Atlantic after the establishment of the Neutrality Patrol in 1939 and then into real danger escorting convoys in 1941, all prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.  Direct action with the German Navy soon followed.  The USS Alexander Hamilton, CG fell victim to a U-boat's torpedo in January, 1942, becoming the first US warship lost in combat in the Atlantic after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Cutters countered and quickly drew blood, sinking three U-boats off the East Coast in 1942.  Coast Guardsmen on board the cutter Icarus, which sank U-352, gained the distinction of being the first U.S. servicemen to take German prisoners of war.  

Cutters kept the lifelines of the Allied war effort open, escorting convoys across the Atlantic, down the seaboard of the US, and through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.  Additionally, a motley assortment of vessels, acquiring the nickname "Corsair Fleet," were absorbed into the Coast Guard beginning in 1942 to augment the scarce numbers of true escort vessels.  As the war progressed and warships were added to the escort fleets, Coast Guardsmen expanded their convoy routes to include those sailing to North Africa and into the Mediterranean, even manning squadrons of US Navy warships. 

The cutters themselves, most of which had been constructed between the wars, were designed to have additional armament added in case of national emergency.  The Navy added this additional armament beginning in 1940, including more and heavier guns, depth charge tracks, "Y" and "K" guns, additional anti-aircraft weaponry, and sonar equipment.  After the start of the war, cutters were some of the first Allied vessels fitted with newly developed electronic gear, such as high-frequency radio direction finders, known as HF/DF or "huff-duff," and surface and air search radars.

During 1941, individual cutters transferred to the control of the US Navy and on 1 November, 1941, the entire Coast Guard shifted from the control of the Treasury Department to the Department of the Navy for the second time since its creation in 1915.  By that time most cutters had been modified for war.  The following is a series of historic photograph galleries showing the cutters, warships, and craft of the Coast Guard and the modifications made for their use in combat, divided by the differing classes of vessels.  While not every cutter is included in these galleries, they do include a selective sample of the wide variety of craft utilized by the nation's oldest continuous sea-going service during World War II, including warships of the US Navy that were manned and officered by Coast  Guardsmen.

The first gallery covers the service's flagships, the "Secretary Class" (also known as the "Treasury Class") 327-foot cutters that served in a variety of capacities but gained some notoriety for their battle with Germany's U-boats on the North Atlantic and in the Mediterranean.  An official report noted that these cutters: 

". . .represent the best of commercial and naval plans and construction with a view to the service intended, in which great size and speed are secondary to handiness in tight places, to reliability, and the ability to perform rescue operations and other tasks under adverse weather conditions.  They were all  41 foot beam, 12 [foot] 6 inch draft with a displacement of 2216 tons and gross tonnage of 2141 tons.  Their hulls were of steel and they had a speed of 20 knots.  Their power was geared turbine, twin screw, and they developed 6,200 horse power using oil as fuel.  They carry one seaplane and their normal complement is about two hundred men.  In normal times they mount three [sic, two] 5 inch guns of 51 caliber, two quadruple machine gun anti-aircraft batteries, two 6 pounders and ten 3 inch anti-aircraft guns.  Both guns and armor were increased for war service.  Three of these, the CAMPBELL, INGHAM and TANEY, were already on duty with the Navy before July 1, 1941.  The others, the BIBB, DUANE, HAMILTON and SPENCER, became eligible for transfer by agreement between the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Coast Guard under an Executive Order of September 11, 1941." (1)

Most of the 327s were initially assigned to duty in Greenland, but their exposed propellers were easily damaged by ice.  Consequently they were assigned as convoy escorts on the North Atlantic.  Later, they escorted convoys across the mid-Atlantic, past Gibraltar, and through the Mediterranean to North Africa.  After their distinguished service in the Battle of the Atlantic, the surviving 327s were converted to amphibious force flagships and served during some of the most intense battles of the Pacific Theatre.  

We hope that you enjoy this gallery of historic images of some of the most famous Coast Guard cutters to have served their nation.

Unless otherwise noted, the following are official U.S. Coast Guard images and all have been declassified.


Photographs
[Click on the thumb-nail image to see full-size photograph]
Original photo caption; description; date & photo number (if any):
A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USCGC Campbell (WPG-32); no caption/photo number; at the New York Navy Yard, May, 1940; photographer unknown.

Here is an excellent photo of a 327, in this case Campbell, in the immediate pre-war era.  Their peace-time armament 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.  Once they were assigned as convoy escorts the amphibians were removed to make room for depth charge tracks, "Y" guns, and an additional 5-inch 51 caliber gun.  Interestingly, the aviation booms were not removed.  Apparently Campbell and Ingham did not carry aircraft.

Here Campbell is tied up at the New York Navy Yard in May 1940 after workers added three 3-inch 51 caliber guns in-line, aft.  Her two signal guns that were directly forward of the bridge were replaced with a single 3-inch 50 caliber gun.  Her two 5-inch 51 caliber main batteries remained unchanged.  Note the mid-aft 3-inch on a raised platform.  Her armament was increased prior to her sailing for duty in Portugal.  Campbell was the first Secretary Class cutter to transfer for duty with the Navy (on 1 July 1941) and the first to sail on escort of convoy duties when she escorted Convoy HX-159 which sailed on 10 November 1941.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USCGC Taney (WPG-37); "Navy Yard Mare Island, Calif. 1940, CGC Taney."; no photo number; 1940; photographer unknown.

This photo shows Taney undergoing armament modifications in 1940.  One additional 5-inch gun was added in a tub aft, and two more 3-inch guns were added in raised platforms abaft the stack.  Slots were cut in her transom for the addition of depth charge tracks.  

The Secretary Class cutters proved to be able escort vessels.  Their hull form, wide beam, heavy displacement and ample power made them excellent sea boats, able to handle the rough weather of the North Atlantic during the winter.  They could maintain their speed while other escorts, particularly corvettes and destroyers, had to slow down.  They were also heavily armed, able to take on almost any enemy vessel or aircraft that they encountered.  

Taney's pre-war career was spent entirely in the Pacific.  She was officially transferred to the Navy on 1 July 1941, and was based out of Honolulu where she survived the 7 December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  She immediately put to sea in search of enemy submarines. Click here for more information on the Coast Guard and the 7 December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Ingham, CG (WPG-35); "Ingham, Lisbon, 15 September 1941; photographer unknown; (copy of photo provided to USCG Historian's Office by Eugene Kiss). 

Ingham was assigned to the Navy on 1 July 1941 and was sent to relieve Campbell in Lisbon.  Here she is being painted gray--even her brass and teak decking--by her entire crew, officers included, before departing Lisbon for the U.S.  Eugene Kiss, a crewman of Ingham at that time, noted: 

". . .departing Lisbon with the ship blacked out at night.  Returning to Boston and having the ship completely overhauled including new armament, going from 3 bunks to 4.  The ship camouflaged painted.  We were aboard the whole time with welding all around us.  We were sent on convoy duty convoying to England where English corvettes met us outside England and escorted them the rest of the way.  We flew NO American flag and were on our third convoy when the captain came on the speakers and announced that Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan and this was not a drill.  We were given the letter 'A' to wear on the American Defense Medal."

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Taney, CG (WPG-37); "U.S.C.G.C. WALNUT: 20 May 42 in background.  2 - 3"/50 dual purpose guns and 4 - 20mm machine guns."  Photo No. 1211-42; photographer unknown.

The Taney, inboard (foreground) of the buoy tender Walnut, undergoes a refit and the addition of anti-aircraft armament.  Taney, based at Honolulu, survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and then unsuccessfully searched for enemy submarines in Hawaiian waters immediately after the morning of 7 December 1941.  Walnut was based at Midway Island and survived a Japanese shelling attack there.  Click here for more information.

 

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Bibb, CG (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 CDR J. D. Hooper, USCG).

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 she 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.  

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.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Alexander Hamilton, CG (WPG-34); "Stbd. Side."; Photo No. 2432(41); 27 December 1941; photographer unknown.

A cutter fitted out for war.  Note the "goalpost" aviation-crane mounts aft.  From 1937-1939 she was homeported in Oakland, California and shifted operations to Norfolk in 1939 for assignment  as part of Destroyer Division 18 on Grand Banks Patrol.  She served with Destroyer Division 18 from 12 October 1939 through 27 January 1940.  From 28 February 1940 until 4 May 1941, she served on weather stations in the Atlantic.  She officially transferred to US Navy control on 11 September 1941 and was assigned to Commander, Task Force 24.6.2, the day this photo was taken.  Although all of the 327's had their names shortened in 1937, the Navy asked that Hamilton resume her full name in January, 1942, to avoid confusing her with the USS Hamilton (DMS-18).

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Alexander Hamilton, CG (WPG-34); "View from stern looking forward, Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, VA.; Photo No. 2430(41); 27 December 1941; photographer unknown.

A good view of the quarterdeck and the various types of weapons added to Alexander Hamilton's armament.  Note the "Y" gun, the hoist and extra depth charges in the rack (to port in front of the 5-inch gun tub) used to reload the "Y" gun, the aft 5-inch 51-caliber and the two 3-inch 50 caliber guns mounted in tubs.  Note also the "goal post" crane initially installed to hoist a floatplane.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Alexander Hamilton, CG (WPG-34); "Bow View, Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, VA.; Photo No. 2427(41); 27 December 1941; photographer unknown.

A good forward view of Alexander Hamilton.  In a little over one month from the date this photo was taken, Alexander Hamilton would be on the bottom of the North Atlantic off the coast of Iceland, a victim of a U-boat's torpedo.  Twenty-six of her crew were lost.  The Alexander Hamilton has the ignominious distinction of being the first American warship sunk in the Atlantic after the US entered the war.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter sinking. USS Alexander Hamilton, CG (WPG-34); no caption/photo number; 29 January 1942; photographer unknown.

A photo taken of Alexander Hamilton, starboard amidships, approximately 30 minutes after she was torpedoed by U-132, 17 miles off Reykjavik, Iceland on 29 January 1942.  

After helping to screen convoy HX 170 to the MOMP, Alexander Hamilton was tasked to tow the disabled storeship USS Yukon (AF-9) to Iceland. USS Gwinn (DD-433) steamed ahead as an escort. The British rescue tug Frisky arrived later to take over the tow. At about 1:00 pm, the Alexander Hamilton handed off the tow to Frisky and steamed ahead to screen the other ships. At this same time, the German submarine U-132 had detected these ships and maneuvered to a favorable position to attack. Singling out the crippled and near motionless 12,546 ton Yukon, the U-132 fired a spread of torpedoes. Alexander Hamilton had meanwhile worked up to 15 knots and passed the Yukon as the torpedoes sped past the storeship. One torpedo passed ahead of the Yukon and struck the Alexander Hamilton on the starboard side between the fireroom and the engine room.  All of the other torpedoes missed.

20 crewmembers were killed instantly while six other perished later due to severe burns.  She capsized and was sunk by gunfire from the Navy destroyer USS Ericsson (DD-440) the next day.  Alexander Hamilton was the first American warship sunk by enemy action in the Atlantic after the US officially entered the war. 

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Spencer, CG (WPG-36); no caption; Photo No. 2337-42 NYBOS; 1 June 1942; photographer unknown.

Spencer transferred to Navy control on 11 September 1941 and began duty as a convoy escort.  She sailed as the flagship of the only US-led convoy escort group on the North Atlantic, Ocean Escort Group A-3.  Although Spencer was commanded by a Coast Guard officer, Commander Harold S. Berdine, and her crew was entirely Coast Guard, the Escort Group Commander, a US Navy officer, Captain Paul R. Heineman, USN, flew his flag on board Spencer.  Escort Group A-3 was a motley collection of Coast Guard cutters, US Navy destroyers, and British and Canadian corvettes.  Other Secretary Class cutters served on the convoy runs from the main trans-Atlantic route to Iceland and back and reinforced threatened convoys as needed.  Joseph Matte III, a Coast Guard officer on board Ingham at that time noted in his journal:

"The Iceland run has been a man-sized operation.  Our run to and from Icomp has been carried off with very small losses, but in reinforcing the transatlantic escorts we have fought many heavy actions against the enemy.  And the weather on our runs has been continually furious from September through March."*****  

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Spencer, CG (WPG-36);no caption; Photo No. 2338-42 NYBOS; 1 June 1942; photographer unknown.

Spencer saw considerable action on the North Atlantic in concert with her sister Secretary Class cutters.  While escorting east-bound Convoy HX-233, she located the submerged U-175 attempting to infiltrate the convoy.  She then blew it to the surface with depth charges and in concert with Duane, fired upon it.  The U-boat's crew abandoned their submarine and a boarding party from Spencer actually got on board before the U-boat sank.  The Spencer and Duane then rescued the surviving German crew.  

After the war, the US Navy credited Spencer with sinking the U-225 on 21 February 1943 although that sinking was later disallowed.  Recent research has suggested that she did sink the U-529 on 22 February 1943 although she did not receive official US Navy credit for the sinking after the war.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Spencer, CG (WPG-36); "END OF A VOYAGE: Safe in a United Nations port, after shepherding a convoy across the Atlantic during the War, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter SPENCER lies peacefully at anchor against the hour when it would have to begin the return trip.  Coast Guard Cutters such as this did splendid service in the submarine infested sealanes."; Photo No. 1004; November, 1942 (?); photographer unknown.

Captain C. S. "Mike" Hall, on board Spencer during the attack on the U-175 (in fact he boarded the U-175 along with fellow crewman Ross P. Bullard--the first Americans to board an enemy warship underway at sea since the War of 1812), described the Secretary Class cutters as:

"We were blessed with the greatest hull form and type of construction that was available in U.S. shipyards at that time.  In my opinion, the hulls should have never been discarded. . .when Spencer received relatively inexperienced personnel from shore for one voyage training, and then as replacements for the older hands, H.S. Berdine kept on board those old hands who wished to stay and transferred the newer personnel, now trained.  Of course this resulted in a plethora of experienced personnel retained.  Some of my shipmates of that era came on board in 1939-40 spent an entire enlistment, plus mandatory extension, and when WWII ended were CPO's and returned to civilian life. . ."

He ended by noting, and most veterans would agree, that "the only things I suffered from were inadequate liberty ashore and excessive patriotism."

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Campbell, CG (WPG-32); no caption/photo number; date/photographer unknown.

Campbell tied up in Argentia, Newfoundland, sometime in late-1942 or early 1943.  Note the HF/DF mast on her poop deck.  Campbell, along with Spencer, were the first US warships equipped with this important device, pioneered by the Royal Navy for the fight against Hitler's U-boat fleet.  The escort commander somehow obtained two modified FH3 HF/DF sets, named "Type DAR", from the British and had them mounted on Campbell and Spencer.  The success of this equipment, and its pioneering use by the Coast Guard, in defeating the U-boats cannot be overestimated. *** (pp. 151, 189, 193).  They were also fitted out with radars and in combination with huff-duff these escorts began to shift momentum of the convoy battles in their favor.

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 Duane, CG (WPG-33); no caption; Photo No. I (a); 21 March 1943; photographer unknown.

Another combat veteran that saw considerable action in the North Atlantic.  Duane transferred to the Navy on 11 September 1941 after first serving on the west coast, then serving with Destroyer Division 18 on Grand Banks Patrol in 1939, sailing on weather station duty in 1940 and then surveying the coast of Greenland.  For that duty she was given a seaplane.  A former crewman of Duane, Captain Dave Sinclair, noted:

"Most significant of our duties, and omitted from the annals of the Greenland Patrol, were the aircraft flights from DUANE.  LT W. D. 'Doc' Shields and Army Air Corps Captain Lacy alternately flew the first aerial survey flights of Southwest Greenland, charting potential sites for the establishment of airfields."

Once attached to the Navy, she was assigned to CINCLANT (DESLANT) and began escorting convoys soon thereafter.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Duane, CG (WPG-33); no caption; Photo No. I (b); 21 March 1943; photographer unknown.

A good view of the stern area of a 327 at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic--although by this time they each had differing weapons layouts and combinations.  Note the radar antenna at the top of her mainmast.  Vice Admiral Thomas R. Sargent III,  assigned to Duane as a junior officer in 1943, noted:

"I loved the 327-foot cutters.  The large engine room made them vulnerable to a direct torpedo attack and they were difficult to steer when refueling at sea due to the small rudder surface, but they were wonderful sea boats and could operate in weather which placed the destroyers in an almost untenable position."

From 3-6 February 1943 her crew assisted in the rescue of the Dorchester survivors and on 17 April 1943 assisted her sister cutter Spencer in the destruction of the U-175 and rescued 22 of the U-boat's crew.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Ingham (WPG-35); no caption; Photo No. 1083; date/photographer unknown.

The 327-foot cutters' first North Atlantic victory came when the Ingham, under the command of CDR George E. McCabe, located a submerged U-boat while screening ahead of Convoy SC-112 the night of 17 December 1942. The Ingham attacked, laying depth charges at varying depths to create what McCabe called a "hammer effect."  Matte, in his journal, noted:

"During the 8 to 12 watch tonight, while on patrol 3 miles ahead of the convoy, we picked up screw-beats of a submarine while listening, ran in and dropped three 600-pounders [depth charges].  Then, getting contact on the U-boat again by echo-ranging we made another run and gave it a 10-charge barrage. . .There is a strong possibility that we sunk him without forcing him to the surface."*****

He was right, the U-626 went to the bottom with all hands.  

Ingham's crew also carried on their traditional Coast Guard duty of saving lives.  They rescued survivors from the torpedoed SS Henry R. Mallory, Robert E. Hopkins, West Portal, Jeremiah Van Rensseler and all hands of the Matthew Luckenback.  From mid-1943 until mid-1944 she escorted convoys to the Mediterranean and back before being converted to an AGC (amphibious force flagship; also known as a Combined Operations Communications Headquarters Ship) in October 1944.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter.

"THE COAST GUARD CUTTER DUANE: One of the crack cutters of the Coast Guard, the DUANE, runs into some foul weather in the North Atlantic. . .This picture was made from the deck of a sister ship, the SPENCER, while both were on anti-sub patrol and convoy duty during the war."; no date; Photo No. 3487; photographer unknown.

Note the heavy seas, typical for the winter months on the North Atlantic.  The 327s proved to be excellent sea boats.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Duane, CG (WPG-33); no caption/photo number; date/photographer unknown.

This photo provides clear evidence of the type of weather encountered on these northern convoy lanes, particularly during the winter months.  Although such storms and heavy seas could make life on board a surface vessel uncomfortable, they also helped shield a convoy from U-boat attack.  In January 1943, the Ingham escorted a convoy part way across the Atlantic in the teeth of a winter gale. ENS John M. Waters Jr., aboard the Ingham, described what it was like: 

"Though the bridge was 35 feet above the waterline, the seas towered up at a 45-degree angle above that. As a new wave loomed up, Ingham rose to meet it, climbing steeply up the front; as the sea slid past, her bow was left momentarily hanging in the air before dropping sickeningly into the next trough ... sending shock waves throughout the ship." (p. 125)****

The heavy seas also rendered radar and sonar practically useless. The storms of the winter of 1942 and 1943 were the worst to hit the North Atlantic in more than 50 years. The weather, in conjunction with a renewed U-boat offensive on the North Atlantic convoys, led to the period being nicknamed the "Bloody Winter."

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Campbell, CG (WPG-32); "Campbell in Maine, 1944."; photo donated by Ed Mergele; no photo number.

When the British and Canadians assumed full responsibility for convoys in the North Atlantic in mid-1943, the US took control of all mid-Atlantic and Mediterranean convoys.  Here they faced a constant threat from U-boats and a very active Luftwaffe.  The convoys were especially vulnerable once they cleared Gibraltar and entered the narrow Mediterranean.

Campbell sailed as an escort for Mediterranean convoys in 1944 and saw considerable action against Luftwaffe aircraft. Note her "huff-duff" antenna abaft the stack.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Taney, CG (WPG-37); "Plan View, Amidships, Mare Island, Cal."; Photo No. 1155-44; 18 February 1944; photographer unknown.

Unique among the modifications to any of the 327-foot cutters was Taney's upgrades.  Here is an official Navy photo showing much of the additional armament.  Much of the armament, upgrades in electronics and fire control equipment, improved ASW gear and anti-aircraft armament was added in anticipation of duty on the Mediterranean convoys where Luftwaffe activity was intense.  No other 327 was fitted with this armament combination.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Taney, CG (WPG-37); "Plan View, Aft., Mare Island, Cal."; Photo No. 1153-44; 18 February 1944; photographer unknown. 
A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Taney, CG (WPG-37); "Shepard's Rest: A ship of the fighting U.S. Coast Guard, having shepherded another convoy across the North Atlantic, rests in a foreign port pending time for the return trip."; no date/photo number; photographer unknown.

A good profile photo of Taney after modifications.  No other 327-foot cutter received this armament package.  Her first assignment was as flagship for Task Force 66, escorting UGS-38, bound for the Mediterranean, in early April 1944.  German bombers attacked the convoy on 20 April 1944 soon after the vessels cleared Gibraltar.  Three ships from the convoy were lost, including the SS Paul Hamilton, which all 580 persons on board were killed, and the destroyer USS Landsdale (DD-246).

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Taney, CG (WPG-37); no caption/photo number; 1944; photographer unknown.

Here Taney's aft 5-inch 38 caliber guns commence fire during target practice.

When armed with proximity fused ammunition, the 5-inch 38 proved to be lethal to any approaching aircraft.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Taney, CG (WPG-37); "Taney, 327-foot Coast Guard combat cutter, is shown here wearing battle gray while on convoy escort duty in the Atlantic."; no  photo number; date/photographer unknown. 

After escorting convoys through the Mediterranean, Taney underwent conversion to an AGC in the Boston Navy Yard between 10 October 1944 and 29 January 1945  and served in the Pacific.  She served as a combat information center for the invasion of Okinawa in April, 1945.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Duane, CG (WAGC-6); "W-33, STBD. BOW, NORFOLK NAVY YARD."; Photo No. 7105 (44); BS #62563; 6 March 1944; photographer unknown.

Duane was assigned to CINCLANT (8th Fleet)  in mid-1943 and escorted convoys to the Mediterranean and back and also through the Caribbean before being converted to an amphibious force flagship by the Norfolk Navy Yard between 16 January and 6 March 1944.  With the decrease in the threat by U-boats 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.  

Once converted, Duane served as the flagship for the commander of the 8th Amphibious Force for "Operation Dragoon," the invasion of Southern France beginning on 15 August 1944.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Ingham, CG (WAGC-35); "U.S. Navy Yard, S.C. . .U.S.S. INGHAM, (W 35), Starboard Bow."; Photo No. 2878-44; 11 October 1944; photographer unknown.

After her conversion to an AGC, done in the Charleston Navy Yard between 1 August and 21 October 1944, Ingham was assigned to duty in the Pacific, and served throughout the campaign to liberate the Philippine Islands.  From 13-18 February 1945 she served as the flagship of the Mariveles-Corregidor Attack Group; 18 March 1945 she was the flagship for the landings on Tigbauanan, Panay; on 29 March 1945 she served at the landings on Negros Island; and in July 1945 she served as the flagship for the Balut Island Attack Unit.

Life on board after the conversion of the 327's could get cramped.  Commander Dean W. Colbert (with Dr. Robert M. Carter), wrote in his memoir of life on board Ingham:

". . .during major landings, we accommodated up to 360 persons onboard and there was literally standing room only. . .Mealtime was a carefully orchestrated operation.  Up to 1000 meals per day were prepared and served out of a galley roughly the size of a kitchen in a 4-bedroom house. . .It was a challenge by any standard, but Ingham's crew rose to the occasion.  Many of the 'black gang' . . .and other crew members had been on board during the worst of the U-boat campaigns in the North Atlantic.  As a whole, the crew was superb, especially the chief and first class petty officers.  They were a tremendously capable and reliable group."******

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Campbell, CG (WAGC-32); "CG 32."; 16 March 1945; Photo No. 1490-45 NYBos.; photographer unknown.

After conversion to an AGC, done in the Boston Navy Yard between 4 January and 28 March 1945, Campbell was assigned to duty in the Pacific.  She sailed from Pearl Harbor for Saipan and arrived there on 3 August 1945.  She then sailed for Manila on 10 August and arrived five days later.  She proceeded to Leyte on the 19th and arrived on the 22nd.  On 1 October 1945 she was anchored at Wakanoura Wan, Honshu, Japan as the flagship for Communications Service Division 103.  On 30 October she sailed to Sasebo and arrived on 1 November.  She stayed there until 30 November when she was ordered back to the U.S.

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.

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.  Here she served as the flagship for Commander, Mine Craft, Pacific Fleet.

She received credit for the destruction of one Japanese aircraft.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USS Spencer, CG (WAGC-36); "W36, port broadside, Norfolk Navy Yard, Later alterations to some of this Class were made, converting them to Navy AGC's, as shown here by the SPENCER."; 26 September 1944; Photo No. 8630(44); photographer unknown.

Spencer underwent conversion to an amphibious force flagship at the Norfolk Navy Yard between 26 June and 11 September 1944.  She then sailed for duty in the Pacific.  She grounded at San Pedro Bay, Leyte on 7 December 1944 and sustained moderate damage.  On 31 January 1945 she served as the flagship for the 8th Amphibious Group during the Nasugbu landings in Luzon, Philippines.  She then served as the flagship for Task Group 78.2 during the Puerto Princessa landing, Palawan, Philippines.  During April and May 1945 she served as the flagship for the Parang and Malabang landings in Mindanao, Philippines.  In June 1945 she served as a fighter direction ship for the landings at Brunei, North Borneo.  In July 1945 she served as the flagship for Task Group 78.2 again during the landings at Balikpapan, Borneo.

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter in World War II USS Taney, CG (WAGC-37); no caption/photo number; 1945?; photographer unknown.

While serving as the combat information center off Okinawa, suicide air attacks became increasingly common.  Taney's gunners were credited with numerous kills and assists.  During the month of June, for example, at least 288 enemy planes attacked the ships in Taney's vicinity, and at least 96 of these were destroyed.  She survived a typhoon in mid-July and more suicide attacks.  The end of the war found Taney still off Okinawa.  After the war, Taney took part in the occupation of Wakayama, anchoring off the port city on 11 September.  While anchored there, Taney weathered another typhoon which swirled by on the 17th. She was, in fact, one of the few ships which stayed at her berth during the storm, her ground tackle holding well in the sticky clay bottom.

Departing Wakayama on 14 October, Taney returned to the west coast of the United States, via Midway, and arrived at San Francisco on 29 October.  Moving on for the east coast, Taney transited the Panama Canal and later arrived at her ultimate destination, Charleston, S.C., on 29 November, and she was then converted for peace-time operations.  Taney is preserved as a museum ship by the Baltimore Maritime Museum in Baltimore Harbor, Maryland.  

A photo of a Coast Guard cutter. USCGC Ingham (WPG-35); no caption/number; photographer/date unknown.

Ingham, after most of her added wartime armament was removed and she was converted for peace-time duty, circa 1946.  The surviving 327's remained in service through the next thirty years and in the case of Ingham, until 27 May 1988.  Her active-duty career spanned a total of almost 52 years! 

 

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