Treasury-class Coast Guard Cutters

USCGC Taney (WHEC-37) as a museum ship in Baltimore.
Line drawing of USCGC Spencer in her 1943 configuration.

Ships In Class

ShipsLaid DownLaunchedCommissionedDecommissionedFate
Bibb (WPG-31/WHEC-31)15 Aug. 193514 Jan. 193710 Mar. 193730 Sept. 1985Sunk as artificial reef on 28 Nov. 1987
Campbell (WPG-32/WHEC-32)1 May 19353 Jun. 193616 Jun. 19361 Apr. 1982Sunk as target ship 29 Nov. 1984
Duane (WPG-33/WHEC-33)1 May 19353 Jun. 19361 Aug. 19361 Aug. 1985Sunk as artificial reef on 27 Nov. 1987
Alexander Hamilton (WPG-34)11 Sept. 19356 Jan. 19374 Mar. 1937N/ASunk by U-132 on 30 Jan. 1942
Ingham (WPG-35/WHEC-35)1 May 19353 Jun. 193617 Sept. 193627 May 1988Museum ship
Spencer (WPG-36/WHEC-36)11 Sept. 19356 Jan. 19371 Mar. 193723 Jan. 1974Sold for scrap 8 Oct. 1981
Taney (WPG-37/WHEC-37)1 May 19353 Jun. 193624 Oct. 19367 Dec. 1986Museum ship

Characteristics

  • Displacement: 2,350 tons (trial), 2,750 tons (full load), 1,837 tons (light in 1965), 2,656 tons (full load in 1954).
  • Dimensions: Length 327 feet, beam 41 feet, draft 13 feet 6 inches (15 feet 3 inches in 1965)
  • Speed: 19.5 knots (max sustained), 10.5 knots (economical)
  • Propulsion: 2x Westinghouse double-reduction geared turbines (2 shafts), 2x Babcock & Wilcox sectional express, air-encased boilers, 400psi, 200 degrees superheat; 5,250 shp (1936); 6,200 shp (1945)
  • Range: 9,500 nm at 11 knots
  • Crew: 24 officers, 2 warrants, 226 enlisted (1945); 10 officers, 3 warrants, 134 enlisted (1965)

Sensors

  • Radar: SPS-23, SPS-29, Mk 26 (Bibb, 1965; Taney 1966).
  • Sonar: SQS-11 (Bibb, 1965; Taney, 1966).

Armament

*The armament on these ships changed significantly over time, especially post-WWII.

  • (1936) All ships: 2x 5″/51 (single mounts), 2x 6-pounders, 1x 1-pounder
  • (1940) Campbell & Taney: 2x 5″/51 (single mounts), 4x 3″/50 (single mounts)
  • (1941) Duane: 3x 5″/51 (single mounts), 3x 3″/50 (single mounts), depth charge tracks, 1x Y-gun
  • (1942) Hamilton: 3x 5″/51 (single mounts), 3x 3″/50 (single mounts), depth charge tracks, 1x Y-gun
  • (1943) Taney: 4x 5″/38 (single mounts)
  • (1945) Bibb, Campbell, Taney: 2x 5″/38 (single mounts), 6x 40mm (twin mounts), 4x 20mm (single mounts). Ingham, Spencer: same as above, except 8x 20mm (twin mounts). Duane: 14x 40mm (2 quad, 3 twin mounts), 8x 20mm (single mounts)
  • (1965 & 66) Bibb & Taney: 1x 5″/38 (single mount), 1x Hedgehog, 1x Mk 32 torpedo tubes

Design

Also known as the Secretary-class, or colloquially as 327s (after their length), the Treasury-class cutters were designed to fulfill the changing missions of the U.S. Coast Guard in the post-Prohibition era. These were also the first cutters that carried aircraft for search-and-rescue cases on the high seas due to the growing air travel industry. Furthermore, the mid-1930s saw growth in opium smuggling, and long-range, fast cutters were needed to police the waters (Scheina, 1982, p. 13 – 14). All of the 327s were named after former Secretaries of the Treasury (Thiesen, 2018).

Initial designs came up with a 316′ x 46’6″ x 16′ vessel with a displacement of 2,350 tons. This single screwed design was estimated at $1,500,000 or a little over half the cost of the actual vessels. In the end, however, the Coast Guard decided to base the Treasury-class off of a modified U.S. Navy Erie-class gunboat. This is to say that the propulsion plant and hull below the waterline were identical. The modified Erie-class underwent 22 designs before the Coast Guard made a final selection. Commander (constructor) F.G. Hunnewell (USCG) created a design with high forward sheer and high slope in the deck in the wardrooms, known as the “Hunnewell Hump” (Scheina, 1982, p. 14). Upon commissioning, these vessels were given the designation of gunboats (WPG) (Scheina, 1982, p. 1).

In 1941, the Coast Guard opened up bids for three ships of a modified 327 design with an increased shaft horsepower of 6,500; however, wartime demands meant that these funds later went to constructing the 255-foot Owasco-class cutters (Scheina, 1990, p. 28).

For short periods of time (prior to 1941), all of these cutters carried floatplanes such as the JF-1, JF-2, J2F-1, and SOC-4. All ships carried their full names until May – June of 1937. However, on 11 January 1942, the Navy asked that the USCGC Hamilton resume being called by her full name (Alexander Hamilton) so as to not be confused with the USS Hamilton (DMS 18) (Scheina, 1982, p. 14).

Initially assigned to Greenland patrols, these cutters were not well-suited to the environment since the propeller blades protruded past the sides of the hull near the surface and were thus sometimes “trimmed off” by ice. Apart from their weaponry and sensors, these cutters were roomy, could accommodate large numbers of survivors, and were considered excellent convoy escorts. Better at sea keeping than destroyers, their handling characteristics made them ideal for small boat operations, and their superior hospital facilities (when compared to destroyers) were also useful when it came to rescues on the Atlantic. With the U-boat threat declining, several of the cutters were later converted to Amphibious Force Flagships (AGC) which included 35 radio receivers and 25 transmitters for improved command and control capabilities (Scheina, 1982, p. 14).

Converted to AGC

  • Bibb (17 Oct 1944 – 29 Jan 1945)
  • Campbell (4 Jan – 28 Mar 1945)
  • Duane (16 Jan – 6 Mar 1944)
  • Ingham (1 Aug – 21 Oct 1944)
  • Spencer (26 Jun – 11 Sept 1944)
  • Taney (10 Oct 1944 – 29 Jan 1945)

Operational Histories

*As usual, I’ll only be covering some of the main highlights in the service histories of these cutters. Finding reliable information on the post-WWII service of some of these vessels has been problematic. Hence, why some of their histories are sparse.

The Alexander Hamilton was the only Treasury-class cutter lost during WWII. Following the war, the 327s returned to the U.S. and were reconverted back to their peacetime configuration by eliminating their wartime armament. These cutters would continue to have distinguished careers and see service in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Stateside they were normally assigned to duties on weather ocean stations.

With the post-war boom in trans-Atlantic air traffic, the Coast Guard’s operation of these weather stations became even more important and a number of newer stations were added further out to sea. Here cutters, serving on these stations, carried personnel from the U.S. Weather Bureau, who would make daily meteorological observations and report their findings to the U.S. Weather Bureau. They also served as mid-ocean navigation aids, communications relay stations and as search and rescue platforms when needed. The ocean station program was permanently established by multi-national agreement soon after the end of World War II. The Coast Guard was then assigned the duty of manning those stations for which the U.S. accepted responsibility. As the 327s completed conversion to ocean station vessels, each immediately deployed to their new stations.

(U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum, 2019)

On 1 May 1965, the Treasury-class was redesignated as High Endurance Cutters or WHEC. This designation indicated multi-mission capable vessels able to operate for 30 to 45 days at sea without support. As the Coast Guard’s High Endurance Cutters, they proved highly versatile in fisheries patrol and drug interdiction roles. They were decommissioned after 40 years of service with Ingham and Taney being preserved as museum ships (Thiesen, 2018).

Alexander Hamilton (WPG-34)

Alexander Hamilton made 4 cruises as part of Destroyer Division 18 from 12 October 1939 to 27 January 1940 on the Grand Banks Patrol. She was on weather ocean station duty from 28 February 1940 to 4 May 1941. On 11 September 1941, she was transferred to the U.S. Navy. On 27 December 1941, she was assigned to Commander TF 24.6.2. On 29 January 1942, Alexander Hamilton was torpedoed by U-132 approximately 17 miles off Reykjavik, Iceland. 1 officer and 19 men were killed, and 6 later died of burns (Scheina, 1982, p. 14). She later capsized while under tow and was sunk by destroyer gunfire from the USS Ericsson the next day (Browning, n.d.).

Bibb (WPG/WHEC-31)

Bibb conducted maneuvers with the Navy for 3 months on the Grand Banks Patrol in 1939. From February 1940 to 1941, she conducted her first weather patrol on station 600 miles east of Bermuda. Transferred to the Navy on 11 September 1941, she was assigned to CINCLANT (DESLANT), and operated in the North Atlantic until 1943. On 26 September 1942, Bibb rescued 61 survivors of the Penmar. On 7 February 1943, she rescued 202 survivors from the SS Henry S. Mallory and 33 from the Kalliopi. On 9 March 1943, she rescued 3 survivors from the SS Coulmore and 2 from the SS Bonneville and SS Melrose. From 9 May 1943 to October 1944, Bibb escorted convoys to the Mediterranean. In 1945, she transferred to the Pacific as an AGC. In August of 1945, she operated off Okinawa as the flagship for Commander Mine Craft, Pacific Fleet (Scheina, 1982, p. 14).

Following the war, Bibb returned to the U.S. and resumed her peacetime duties of search and rescue and weather station patrols. On 14 February 1947, Bibb rescued all 69 passengers from the Boeing 314 flying boat Bermuda Sky Queen that had encountered strong headwinds and was forced to land in the mid-Atlantic ocean after having run low on fuel in a gale. The following year, Bibb rescued 40 people and one dog from the Portugueses fishing vessel Gasper 300 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. Bibb would continue to operate in her peacetime capacity throughout the 1950s and into the 60s, mostly on ocean station duty (Scheina, 1990, p. 28 – 29).

From 4 July 1968, Bibb was assigned to Coast Guard Squadron Three for a 10-month long deployment to Vietnam in support of Operation Market Time. She undertook 31 naval gunfire support missions and also participated in the amphibious assault on the island of Phuc Quoc. From October to December of 1968, Bibb participated in Operation Sea Lords for which she would receive the Presidential Unit Citation. In February of 1969, Bibb was relieved by the Spencer and returned to Boston (Bibb Shipmates Assoc., 2019, paras. 74 – 81).

From May 1969 to October 1973, Bibb was stationed at Boston and participated in law enforcement, ocean station, and search-and-rescue duties. On 2 November of 1969, she located the disabled MV Caravan some 150 miles SE of Cape Fear and towed her to safety. In September of 1972, she medevaced some crew off of the Greek vessel Christia that was midway between Bermuda and the Azores. From October 1973 to September 1985, she was stationed at New Bedford, MA (Scheina, 1990, p. 29).

By the mid-1970s, improvements in technology had rendered the weather patrols obsolete. In late June of 1980, Bibb assisted several vessels in distress during tropical storm Brett. By this time, there was increased emphasis on fisheries and counter-narcotics patrols. From 17-18 July 1982, Bibb seized 100 tons of marijuana from MV Grimurkamban and MV Rio Panuco 270 miles off of Cape Cod. Later in August, she also seized marijuana from the fishing vessel Shanti. In 1984, Bibb participated in Operation Wagon Wheel with the Navy, Drug Enforcement Administration, and other partners in the Caribbean. On 10 November 1984, she seized 11.5 tons of marijuana from the Turkish vessel Captain Joe 100 miles east of Honduras (Scheina, 1990, p. 29).

After a 48 year career, the prohibitive cost of maintaining her forced Bibb to be decommissioned on 30 September 1985. She was sunk as an artificial reef off the coast of Florida in 1987 (United States Coast Guard Cutter Bibb Shipmates Association, 2019, para. 93).

Bibb in 1944. Her forward 5″/51 gun has been replaced with a 3″/50. She also carries a hedgehog anti-submarine projector.
Bibb in the late-1940s. Note her different armament, specifically the 5″/38 gun on her bow.
Bibb, likely near the end of her career. She still retains her anti-submarine warfare armament. Her triple torpedo tubes can be seen near the stern and her hedgehog is just in forward of the bridge.
Bibb, (date unknown) most likely in her final configuration.

Campbell (WPG/WHEC-32)

Campbell was assigned to Destroyer Division 18 as part of the Grand Banks Patrol in September 1939. On 1 July 1941, she was transferred to the U.S. Navy, and from 1941 to 1943 she was assigned to CINCLANT (DESLANT) to serve as an escort in the North Atlantic (Scheina, 1982, p. 14). On 21 February 1943, Campbell rescued 50 survivors from the SS Neilson Alonzo that had been torpedoed by a U-boat wolfpack. The Campbell attacked and drove off U-753. The following day, she was involved in a battle with U-606 which was forced to the surface. Campbell rammed the U-boat but gashed her hull below the waterline at the engine room. She continued to fight until she lost power. Campbell lowered boats to rescue the crew of the U-boat as they abandoned the ship. Returning to port, Campbell had her bow reconstructed which actually resulted in her length being reduced to 326 feet; the only Coast Guard cutter with that length. After being repaired, Campbell continued escort duties in the Atlantic before being transferred to the Pacific as an amphibious flagship (U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, n.d.).

Following WWII, Campbell returned to the U.S. where she was stationed in Brooklyn, NY from 1946 to 17 September 1953 and was assigned to law enforcement, ocean station, and search-and-rescue duties. During that time, she assisted the vessels Theodore Parker, Lord Delaware, and Josiah Macy. She also took cadets on practice cruises during the summer months from 1947 to 1949 where she visited Europe and Africa (Scheina, 1990, p. 29). Throughout the 1950s, Campbell would continue her duties on ocean stations, performing cadet cruises, and assisting vessels in distress (Scheina, 1990, p. 30).

Campbell served in Vietnam with Coast Guard Squadron Three from 14 December 1967 to 12 August 1968 where she would sink or damage 105 Vietcong structures during Operation Market Time. She would return to the U.S. and continue her peacetime duties before being decommissioned in 1982 and sunk as a target ship (U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, n.d., para. 5).

Campbell in New York Navy Yard in 1940.
Campbell in 1963
Campbell in 1982 in her final configuration.

Duane (WPG/WHEC-33)

In September 1939, Duane operated as part of the Grand Banks Patrol with Destroyer Division 18. From February 1940 to 1941, she operated on weather station 1,200 miles east of Bermuda. In August of 1940, aircraft from Duane surveyed Greenland’s west coast. On 14 June 1941, Duane rescued 46 survivors from the SS Tresillian. On 11 September 1941, she was assigned to U.S. Navy CINCLANT (DESLANT) for escort duty in the North Atlantic until 1943. From 3 – 6 February 1942, Duane assisted in the rescue of the USAT Dorchester. On 17 April 1943, she assisted the Spencer in sinking U-175 and rescued 22 of the crew. In 1943, Duane was assigned to CINCLANT (8th Fleet) to escort convoys to the Mediterranean. From 1944-1945, Duane operated as an AGC in the Mediterranean. In August of 1944, she served as flagship for Commander 8th Amphibious Force for the invasion of South France (Scheina, 1982, p. 14).

Following her return to the U.S., Duane was used for search-and-rescue, law enforcement, and ocean station duties for the majority of her career. Like other cutters of this class, Duane would be deployed to the Vietnam War to serve with Coast Guard Squadron Three from 4 December 1967 to 4 August 1968. She resumed her usual duties when she returned to the U.S. Notable highlights include rescuing 28 survivors from the MV Bornholm on 3 May 1957, and providing support for an at-sea conference between the Americans, local fishing industry representatives, and the Soviet Georges Banks fishing fleet commander in May 1971. Some of Duane‘s notable drug busts include seizing 9 tons of marijuana from a 55-foot sailboat off Monhegan Island on 25 May 1978. On 7 November 1982, Duane fired across the bow and boarded MV Biscayne Breeze which was 400 miles southeast of Cape Cod. Once aboard, crewmembers seized 30 tons of marijuana. On 15 March 1983, crewmembers from Duane boarded the sinking Honduran MV Civonney 270 miles east of Cape May, New Jersey which was abandoned by its crew after being set on fire and the sea cocks opened. A large quantity of marijuana was found aboard (Scheina, 1990, p. 30 – 31). Duane was ultimately sunk as an artificial reef on 27 November 1987.

Duane in her Amphibious Force Flagship (AGC) configuration.
Duane in early 1960s configuration
Duane provides naval gunfire support with her 5″ gun during the Vietnam War.

Ingham (WPG/WHEC-35)

From February 1940 to 1941, Ingham operated on weather station 1,200 miles east of Bermuda. On 1 July 1941, she was transferred to the U.S. Navy, and from 1942 to 1943 she was assigned to CINCLANT (DESLANT) for escort duty in the North Atlantic. On 26 September 1942, she rescued 8 survivors from the SS Tennessee. On 15 December 1942, she sank U-626. On 7 February 1943, along with USCGC Bibb, Ingham rescued 33 survivors from the SS Henry R. Mallory, SS Robert E. Hopkins, and SS West Portal. Ingham later rescued survivors from the SS Jeremiah Van Rensseler. On 18 March 1943, she rescued all hands from the SS Matthew Luckenbach. From mid-1943 to mid-1944, Ingham escorted convoys to the Mediterranean. From late 1944 to 1945, she operated as an AGC in the Pacific. From 13 – 18 February 1945, Ingham served as flagship for the Tigbauan landings, Panay, Philippines. In July 1945, she served as flagship for the Balut Island landings in the Philippines (Scheina, 1982, p. 14).

Immediately following her duties in the Philippines, Ingham escorted convoys to Shanghai and Hong Kong. She would later perform liaison work in Indochina. Returning to the United States in early 1946, she was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia, and converted back for her peacetime duties which included law enforcement, search-and-rescue, and operating on various ocean weather stations. She continued these duties throughout the 1950s and into the 60s. From 13 June to 3 July 1964, Ingham operated on Ocean Station Charlie and conducted the first oceanographic survey for a ship of her class. On 10 May 1965, a fire aboard her destroyed her CIC. Several years later on 27 February 1967, she helped fight a fire aboard the MV Caldas that was 50 miles east of Chincoteague, Virginia (Scheina, 1990, p. 31).

From 16 July 1968 to 3 April 1969, Ingham served with Coast Guard Squadron Three as a part of Operation Market Time in Vietnam. As with other Coast Guard vessels operating in Vietnam, Ingham interdicted vessels in her area of operations to prevent the flow of weapons and supplies to Communist forces in South Vietnam. Additionally, she provided naval gunfire support, medical support for local villages, and logistical support for Navy and Coast Guard patrol boats in the area.

JOC Worth described arriving “on line” aboard the Ingham in a 28 February 1968 press release:

As soon as INGHAM had been eased away from her berth at the Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines by two Navy tugs, her Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Joseph Wubbold of San Gabriel, Calif., nudged his ship’s two steam-powered turbine engines forward and moved the cutter slowly toward the fueling pier a short distance away. INGHAM had just ended a drydocking period and while she was out of the water her crew repainted her hull until it was gleaming white. That, along with her distinctive red slash and Coast Guard seal painted at a rakish angle across the port and starboard sides of her bow put her in sharp contrast with the gray of Navy ships which surrounded her. . .Fueling completed, Captain Neale O. Westfall of Portsmouth, Va., INGHAM’s skipper, directed that his ship be headed for her ‘on line’ assignment in the waters off South Vietnam, this time in an area about halfway up the coast. . .Arrival [two days later] on station always means a flurry of activities and no exception in made for the men of INGHAM. ‘On station’ came for them at 5 a.m. In the light of a just-rising sun, Coast Guardsmen in a small powerboat were lowered over the side for the short ride to another Coast Guard high endurance cutter, the Winnebago. The Winnebago is the ship being relieved, and once aboard her, officers and key personnel quickly exchanged information and equipment. Within a half hour INGHAM men were riding back to their ship. Within a few hours after officially assuming the ‘watch,’ Coastal Surveillance Force headquarters for the area in which INGHAM was to patrol called the cutter to arrange a briefing conference. As this was to take place ashore in South Vietnam, INGHAM moved off the line toward the country.

(U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum, 2019)

Worth goes on to describe a naval gunfire support mission, operating with smaller vessels, and an UNREP evolution:

No sooner had the briefing ended and the cutter on her way back to the line that she was called on for naval gunfire support. Gunfire support consists of shelling selected enemy targets ashore, as identified by a command point somewhere in South Vietnam. INGHAM had a variety of targets to hit and would be firing with the aid of a ‘spotter.’ . . .For the next two days, Coast Guardsmen manning the cutter’s five-inch, 38-caliber naval gun under the direction of Chief Petty Officer Leon R. Scarborough of Hatteras, N.C., dropped charge after charge on the beach and mountainous coastal terrain. Her targets? Primarily a site used as a regrouping area by the enemy and a cache of enemy supplies. While shooting, Captain Westfall dropped his ship’s anchor to provide greater stability for INGHAM. However, at one point, INGHAM’s guncrew was firing ‘from the hip’ so to speak. As the cutter steamed along slowly off the coast, her shooters raked the beaches with heavy projectiles. In between gunshoots and regular surveillance, INGHAM had a few visitors. Nearby Navy ‘Swift’ boats, powerful 50-foot long but heavily armed patrol boats came alongside for water and other provisions which they cannot carry for long periods of time. Also, a few of the familiar Coast Guard 82-foot patrol boats dropped in for the same reason. These smaller craft are also part of Market Time operations and carry out close inshore river patrols while the larger ships conduct the ‘outer barrier’ patrols some 20 miles offshore. . .Later on that day, INGHAM had an ‘unrep’ (underway replenishment). This consists of the transfer of fuel and material to INGHAM from another vessel designed for this by the use of hoses and lines as the two ships steam beside each other 80 to 120 feet apart at about 18 to 20 miles per hour.

(U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum, 2019)

Ingham returned to Norfolk on 2 May 1969. During her 12 months in Vietnam, she steamed over 60,000 miles, conducted dozens of naval gunfire support missions, participated in Operation Sea Lords and Operation Swift Raiders which earned her an unprecedented 2 Presidential Unit Citations (the only cutter to receive 2), and carried out numerous humanitarian support missions (U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum, 2019).

Ingham would spend the rest of her career homeported in Portsmouth, VA. She resumed her ocean station duties until 6 February 1976. On 4 July 1979, while on a cadet cruise, Ingham interdicted the Honduran fishing trawler Mary Ann which was smuggling 15 tons of marijuana. After attempting to flee, the Mary Ann rammed the Ingham causing damage, but Ingham stopped the vessel after firing shots across her bow and then into the vessel herself. Later on during the cruise, Ingham responded to several search and rescue cases (U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum, 2019, para. 5). Between April and June of 1980, Ingham participated in several search-and-rescue cases involving Cuban refugees. For example, in April, she towed five vessels and rescued 14 survivors from storm-battered boats fleeing Cuba (Scheina, 1990, p. 32).

On 1 April 1982, Ingham stopped the Misfit and seized 35 tons of marijuana. She would continue to perform cadet cruises into the 80s, but her aging condition caused her to be decommissioned on 27 May 1988. At the end of her service, she was the last Treasury-class cutter in the fleet, the oldest cutter in commission, and the only ship to be awarded 2 Presidential Unit Citations.

Ingham is preserved as a museum ship in Key West, FL.

Ingham, circa 1943, in heavy seas in the North Atlantic. All 327s except Alexander Hamilton and Taney received a similar camouflage pattern.
Ingham, circa 1944. She has a unique camouflage scheme, a second radar has been added to the foremast, and she has a small mainmast.
Ingham at Key West, FL in June 1980 (Scheina, 1990, p. 31).

Spencer (WPG/WHEC-36)

Spencer spent 1940 on weather patrol. On 11 September 1941, she was transferred to the Navy and assigned to CINCLANT (DESLANT). From 1941 to mid-1943, she performed escort duty in the North Atlantic. On 12 May 1942, she rescued 52 survivors from the SS Cristales and SS Mont Parnes. On 21 February 1943, she sank U-225. On 8 March 1943, she rescued 35 people from the SS Guido. On 17 April 1943, she sank U-175 and rescued 19 of the crew, however, 1 crew member was killed from gunfire. From mid-1943 to late-1943, she conducted convoy escort duty to the Mediterranean. Afterward, she operated in the Caribbean until early 1944. From early to mid-1944, Spencer operated in the Mediterranean again. She transferred to the Pacific as an AGC from late 1944 to 1945. On 7 December 1944, she ran aground in San Pedro Bay, Leyte sustaining moderate damage. On 31 January 1945, she served as the flagship for the 8th Amphibious Group landing at Nasugbu, Luzon. From 26 – 28 February 1945, she was the flagship for Task Group 78.2 for the Puerto Princessa landings at Palawan, Philippines. From April to May 1945, she was the flagship for the Parang and Malabang landings at Mindanao. In June of 1945, Spencer served as a fighter direction ship for the Brunei, North Borneo landings. The following month, she served as the flagship for Task Group 78.2 for the Balikpapan landings in Borneo (Scheina, 1982, p. 15).

Following WWII, Spencer returned to the East Coast and was stationed at New York and Boston performing law enforcement, search-and-rescue, and ocean station duties for the remainder of her career. Some highlights include fighting a fire on MV Meirdizengoff on 27 June 1951. On 8 September 1958, she sank the derelict Portuguese FV Anna Maria using gunfire east of Nova Scotia. Along with her sister ships, the Spencer would also participate in Vietnam from 11 February to 30 September 1969 as part of Coast Guard Squadron Three during Operation Market Time. Returning to the U.S., Spencer returned to ocean station duty until decommissioned on 23 January 1974 whereupon she was placed in special status as an engineering training school until being sold for scrap on 8 October 1981 (Scheina, 1990, p. 32).

Spencer depth charges U-175.
Spencer, possibly in 1942 or 1943.

Taney (WPG/WHEC-37)

From 1936 to 1941, Taney was stationed in Honolulu, HI. In March 1940, she cruised to Howland, Jarvis, and Baker Islands. On 1 July 1941, Taney was assigned to the Navy. During the Japanese attack on 7 December 1941, Taney was moored at Pier 6 in Honolulu Harbor. From 1941 – early 1944, Taney was assigned to the HAWAIIANSEAFRON and operated as an escort in the Pacific. In the fall of 1943, Taney‘s 5″/51s and 3″/50s were replaced with four 5″/38s (USCGC Taney, 2012). From early 1944 – late 1944, she escorted convoys to the Mediterranean. She was the flagship for six convoys between the U.S. and North Africa (USCGC Taney, 2012). She returned to the Pacific in 1945 as an AGC. In April of 1945, Taney served as the combat information center for operations on Okinawa (Scheina, 1982, p. 15).

Returning to the U.S. on 29 October, Taney would spend most of her post-war career on ocean weather stations. During the Korean War, Taney was refitted with additional anti-submarine weapons and frequently served on plane guard duty at Midway and Adak (USCGC Taney, 2012). During the Vietnam War, Taney joined Coast Guard Squadron Three and participated in Operation Market Time from 14 May 1969 to 31 January 1970 (Scheina, 1990, p. 33). During her Vietnam deployment, she steamed 52,000 miles and inspected over 1,000 vessels. She fired more than 3,400 5″ shells on enemy positions in naval gunfire support missions and the medical staff treated more than 6,000 Vietnamese villagers. Taney returned to the U.S. in February of 1970. Like her sister ships, Taney was busy through the mid-1970s to the end of her career with search-and-rescue and drug interdiction duties. (United States Coast Guard Historian’s Office, 2011).

Other notable career highlights include being the last Coast Guard cutter to be on ocean station duty (at OS HOTEL from 19 March to 15 April 1976). From the late-1970s and into the 1980s, she was active in counter-narcotics operations. In December 1979, she seized FV Eneida for narcotics smuggling. On 15 January 1980, she seized MV Amelia Isle off Ft. Pierce, Florida carrying 4 tons of contraband. From November to December 1980, she stopped MV William Brice and MV Party Doll carrying 12 tons and 10 tons of contraband, respectively. On 30 September 1984, she stopped the PC Thriller in the Yucatan Channel which was found to be carrying 1,000 pounds of marijuana. Finally, on 4 October 1985, Taney stopped MV Sea Maid I which was towing a barge laden with 160 tons of marijuana 300 miles off Virginia (Scheina, 1990, p. 33).

Taney was decommissioned on 7 December 1986. She is the last surviving warship from the attack on Pearl Harbor and is currently preserved as a museum ship in Baltimore, MD. In July 2020, the Baltimore Sun reported that the name “Taney” was being removed from the museum ship in light of the public’s recognition of the past racial injustices contributed to by the ship’s namesake, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney who delivered the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in the 1857 Dred Scott case. Henceforth, the ship would simply be known as “WHEC-37” (Miller, para. 3 – 7).

Note: for the sake of consistency, this article will retain the use of the historical name of cutter WHEC-37.

Taney on convoy duty in the Atlantic on 10 April 1944. Taney was the only 327 to receive this configuration of four 5″/38 guns.
Taney in February 1960 going to aid a tanker in a storm off San Francisco Bay.
Taney in 1968. Note that one of her masts has been replaced with a tripod mast and she’s had upgrades to her radar (in comparison to the above photo). While the Coast Guard slash was approved in 1967, it was well over a year before all cutters had the mark added to their hulls.
Taney (WHEC-37) in her present state as a museum ship in Baltimore, MD.

Evaluation

As can be seen, the Treasury-class cutters were highly adaptable to the changing missions and times that they found themselves in. From their service in WWII as convoy escorts and amphibious flagships to ocean station duties and law enforcement patrols, the 327s had very long and distinguished careers.

Referring to the Treasury-class cutters, Capt. John M. Waters noted that “built for only $2.5 million each, in terms of cost-effectiveness we may never see the likes of these cutters again” (Thiesen, 2018).

Indeed, the Treasury-class may go down in history as some of the greatest cutters ever operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

References

Browning, R.M. (n.d.). History of USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753). Retrieved from https://www.atlanticarea.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Area-Cutters/CGCHAMILTON/History/.

Miller, H. (2020 July 2). Roger B. Taney’s name removed from historic Pearl Harbor ship in Baltimore. Baltimore Sun. https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-baltimore-living-classrooms-foundations-taney-warship-20200701-eke5muprdfcrhngym6s4pn746y-story.html.

Scheina, R.L. (1982). U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.

Scheina, R.L. (1990). U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft 1946-1990. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.

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