Indiana University Underwater Science

U.S.C.G.C. Duane

National Register of Historic Places Nomination


For as long as man has lived near or on the sea he has, unknowingly in most cases, been altering the nature of the sea by those things lost, placed or discarded into the sea. Once man began to use the sea for transportation, warfare and exploration his effect steadily increased and became evermore harmful. Only in the last decades of the 20th century has man begun to realize that misuse of the sea will have dire consequences on all life on earth.

Among those areas most adversely affected are coral reef habitats of warm water seas. Long thought to be an inexhaustible supply of food, minerals and raw materials, the oceans have begun to lose their promise of being limitless. Man has begun to attempt to repair the damage and to provide protection to the remaining coral reefs. One way this is done is by providing alternative locations for those uses impacting the reef zones.

Artificial reefs are now being placed along side natural reefs to establish areas for recreation, marine life habitat and as barriers to waves and storm tides. One of the most popular foundations for artificial reef construction is derelict ships. Though thousands of ships have been lost, those in deep, cold or distant waters offer little in the way of recreation. And many situated in coral reef habitats pose a threat to the ecology of the area due to recreational use including sport fishing and scuba diving. Divers damage coral by touching it, picking up souvenirs and deliberate vandalism. Fishermen damage coral with anchors, nets, and illegal fishing methods such as explosives and poisons. Over fishing also destroys the nutrient poor ecosystem by causing imbalances in the food chain.

In the mid-1980’s K.A.D.O. was seeking a vessel to place as an artificial reef near Molasses Reef south of Key Largo, Florida. The organization was able to purchase two Treasury class Coast Guard Cutters, Duane and Bibb for one dollar each. K.A.D.O. in cooperation with state, federal, local government agencies, businesses and individuals raised the funds necessary to have the vessels made environmentally safe, tow them into position and sink them. These efforts created what is said to be the most often dived shipwreck in the world. In 1997 a ceremony marking to 60th anniversary of the Treasury class and the 10th anniversary of the sinking was held on site. Information gathered at the time of the sinking and for this memorial observance revealed that not only Duane, but also the entire seven ship “327” fleet had played a key role in the Allied victory in WW II. This document represents the first concentrated effort to recognize the contributions of the Treasury class and the men who fought and too often died defending freedom.

Physical Description

Section 7

U.S.C.G.C. Duane (WHEC-33) is a High Endurance Cutter of the Treasury class. Ships of this class are also referred to as Secretary, Campbell, Hamilton, Bibb or 327 class in various sources. Built at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, the 327' Duane currently lies submerged, upright and intact, at a bottom depth of 120 ft. in the buffer zone surrounding the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary near Key Largo, Florida. Duane is located seven miles off shore and approximately one mile south of Molasses Reef (Figure # 1), having been placed as an artificial reef on 27 November 1987 (Photograph #1).

The Duane was built as William J. Duane in 1935-36 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard dry-docks along with three sister ships. The seven vessels of the class were named after Secretaries of the U.S. Treasury. Duane was the third in a series of vessels named for the 11th Secretary of the Treasury who served under Andrew Jackson. The other Treasury class vessels were George M Bibb, George W. Campbell, Alexander Hamilton, Samuel D. Ingham, John C Spencer and Roger B. Taney. The names were shortened to surnames only in 1937. The Alexander Hamilton’s full name was restored to prevent confusion with another ship of the same name.

From their completion in 1936, until the introduction of the twelve ship 378ft. Hamilton class in 1967, the Treasury class vessels were the largest and most heavily armed Coast Guard ships. The original cost for each vessel was $2,486,460. During a 49- year service life Duane underwent several changes in configuration of armament and equipment. A transfer from the Pacific to Atlantic for Neutrality Patrol in 1939 saw Duane fitted with several 20mm guns, two new 5' and two 3' mounts along with depth charges. These changes were made to enable Duane to better serve as a convoy escort. After 1940 an amphibious plane once carried, was removed.

In 1944-45 additional radio and communications equipment was installed when Duane served as flagship for the Eighth Amphibious Force Mediterranean during the invasion of France. After WW II Duane was extensively modified and assumed what was essentially the vessel's final appearance. All of the Treasury class vessels were equipped for anti-submarine warfare during the 1960's. Each was equipped with one ahead-firing fixed hedgehog and two Mk 32 triple torpedo tubes. This armament was later removed, returning Duane to post-war and final appearance. The changes made to Duane throughout the service life of the vessel, were the result of developments in electronics and changes in mission requirements. Modifications to the vessel's overall appearance were slight but represent significant periods of its service life.

To prepare the vessel for sinking and a new role as an artificial reef, all grease, oil, and fuel were removed. Articles of brass, which are toxic to some marine organisms, were also removed. The uppermost portion of the foremast was removed as a possible navigation hazard; the crows' nest remains. To help defray the costs of preparation, transport and sinking, small items such as brass portholes were removed and sold. All weapons were removed though their imprints may still be easily identified on the decks. The twin 9' diameter propellers and the rudder are still in place. The bow anchors were deployed during the sinking to help the ship stay upright. Pumps were used in the sinking rather than explosives, to avoid damage to the environment or the ship and to better control the process in hopes of the vessel settling upright (Photograph # 1).

To make the ship safer for divers to explore, openings, hatches, vents and doorways to the areas below the main deck were secured shut by welding. Doorways to areas above the main deck were welded open in most places, and welded shut in others, to lessen the chances of diver entrapment. Most areas above the main deck are accessible and safe. The bow and cutwater areas are intact and all decks have their original railings, ladders and ports. In some cases hull plates were cut through in the interest of diver safety. Two small holes were cut near the centerline. of the transom to aid in flooding at the time of placement. There is slight damage to the stack, (1998) apparently from the action of currents that are sometimes quite strong. The interior of the ship retains many items of interest such as the furnishings of the commanding officers cabin and galley equipment. The bunks are in place in some areas of the crew quarters (Figure #2).

In the ten years since being placed as an artificial reef the ship has become generally encrusted with a layer of corrosion and calcareous marine growth. Various corals and sponges have anchored to the vessel and countless fish now inhabit numerous crevasses and spaces of the vessel (Photograph #3). Duane has settled into the seabed with the main-deck now resting at a depth of just over 100'. No maintenance is performed other than to keep in place the buoys marking the location which is under the jurisdiction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Duane is an intact vessel and serves as an excellent example of a large Coast Guard cutter of the late 1930's and W.W. II era. There is no debris field or other associated archaeological material.

Review of Integrity

1. Location: Direct association with present location. During 1943 Duane served in the vicinity while defending Allied convoys against attack by German submarines. 2. Design: Retains design integrity despite modifications to deck houses, superstructure, masts and armament. Items removed prior to sinking and steps taken to insure visitor and environmental safety do not detract from the overall effect of the vessel. 3. Setting: Sunken vessel at a bottom depth of 120'. 4. Materials: Maintains historic design and construction except for removal of weapons and small items for safety of shipping, and the environment. The securing of hatches, doorways and points of entry had little effect on the original design or appearance. All materials present are original components of the vessel except a memorial plaque attached during the 1987 dedication (Figure #4). 5. Feeling: The unique underwater setting of Duane evokes strong emotional responses from visitors. The ability to examine all areas above the main deck by swimming above, through and around them heightens the impression of size, power, and historical importance of the vessel. Duane is an intact ship with all physical features readily identifiable. The author of this nomination made direct observations during a 1998 examination of the vessel. Only the stack showed evidence of damage by currents in that it had cracked slightly. 6. Association: The presence of Duane in the waters of the Florida Keys is an appropriate setting as the vessel served in this area and throughout the Atlantic in W.W.II. Duane also served in the Atlantic during peacetime as a search and rescue, weather observation and research platform and law enforcement vessel. In 1980 Duane served as an escort vessel during the Mariel boatlift from Cuba, passing near where it rests today.

Duane was placed as an artificial reef through the efforts of the Keys Association of Dive Operators organization (K.A.D.O.). Decommissioned at Portland, Maine on 1 August 1985, Duane was at time the oldest U.S. military vessel in service. Duane and Bibb had been turned over to the Maritime Commission and were moored in Boston Harbor.

In the late 1980's pressure was increasing on the natural reef system in the Florida Keys. In an effort to relieve this pressure KADO sought to place an artificial reef in the Key Largo area. Duane and Bibb because of their size and historical significance were seen as ideal for this purpose. The Coast Guard donated both vessels and privately raised funds were used to prepare, transport and place the vessels as reefs. Federal, state and local officials as well as individuals cooperated to complete the project.

The ships were taken to Staten Island, New York, where New England Maritime Services removed possible contaminants including oil, residual fuel, and brass. The bells of both vessels were placed in the care of the Coast Guard station at Islamorada, Florida, and remain on public display. Both vessels arrived at their final destinations on 26 November 1987 after a twelve-day tow by tug. Turned over to the local diving community and the United States Experimental Dive Team, they were moored one-quarter mile apart near Molasses Reef inside the buffer zone of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The Duane was sunk first on 27 November and Bibb the next day. The U.S.N. Dive team had the bow anchors deployed at 45- degree angles and pumped the holds full of water to sink the ship stem first and hopefully upright. Duane came to rest upright on the flat sandy bottom; Bibb, however, rolled over. The vessels lie in Gulf Stream waters that are generally clear though sometimes having strong currents as they are outside the protective coral formations. The clear water and upright position have made the Duane a "world class" dive.

Statement of Significance

Coast Guard Cutter Duane (WHEC-33) is of national significance as defined by criteria A and C. The participation of Duane and the remaining Treasury class cutters proved to be a key element in the U.S. and Allied victory in the "Battle of the Atlantic" during W.W. II (1939-45). For almost 50 years Duane served in nearly every capacity possible for a vessel of the type. Today, Duane continues service in the form of an artificial reef protecting the fragile eco-system of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The vessel also serves and an underwater "museum" as an excellent example of a large 1930's and WWII era Coast Guard cutter. In 1987 Duane was dedicated as a memorial to the entire Treasury class.

With the beginning of the war in Europe, Germany had sought, by submarine attacks on merchant vessels, to prevent the movement of men and material across the Atlantic. The defense of these vital supply convoys became the "Battle of the Atlantic". The first official involvement of the Treasury class was as members of the Neutrality Patrol ordered by President Roosevelt in 1939. However, at least some of them had been involved in search and rescue missions and "colonization" efforts in the Pacific as early as 1937. The Neutrality Patrol was an attempt to show the readiness of the U.S. Navy to defend the Western Hemisphere against "belligerent " forces.

As U.S. involvement in the war became a certainty, steps were taken to aid and protect shipping in the Atlantic by way of convoy escorts. Duane participated in nearly every naval campaign and operation of the Atlantic war and was involved in prewar operations. These included the colonization of Pacific islands in anticipation of conflict with Japan and the survey of Greenland for possible airbase locations and enemy activity prior to the war. Duane served as a member of the Neutrality and Weather Observation Patrols.

Duane was the first of six Treasury class vessels assigned to Weather Patrol in the Atlantic, a necessity for safe naval operations. Duane performed escort duty in the Atlantic and Caribbean during the height of the "Battle of the Atlantic". Her service included search and rescue and anti-submarine efforts. The ship was responsible for saving the lives of many seamen. After the submarine threat in the Atlantic subsided, the Treasury class vessels were converted to serve as flagships for the invasion of Europe. Duane was again the first to be converted and participated in Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France. The service by Duane and the other vessels of the Treasury class proved vital to the Allied victory in the war. It is believed that their unique design, meritorious service during W. W. II and Viet Nam, along with their peacetime roles in protecting U.S. interests, will find each remaining vessel eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

History of U.S.C.G.C. Duane (W.H.E.C. 33)

Section 8

The keel for the William J. Duane was laid l May 1935 with launching on 3 June 1936 (Photograph #4). After being commissioned 1 August 1936, Duane was assigned to the port of Oakland, California. The 1930's saw the marriage between the CG cutters and aviation with aircraft equipped cutters designed to patrol for fishing violations in Alaska, opium smuggling on the U.S. west coast and to conduct air sea rescue operations in support of a fledgling transoceanic air service (Pearcy, 1989) (Photograph #5). From Oakland, Duane made a number of trips up the Coast of Alaska on Bering Sea patrols (Scott, 1994). During these operations and throughout W.W. II, Treasury class vessels carried medical personnel from the t7. S. Public Health Service. These doctors and surgeons not only provided care for the ship's company and other servicemen, but offered humanitarian aid wherever the duties of the vessels carried them (Inghram, 1944).

Duane was involved in the U.S. colonization of the Line Islands in the Pacific, which began in 1936 by a party from the C.G. cutter Itasca. In 1937 on a four-month circulation, Duane visited all five islands being colonized by the U. S. These included Howland, Jarvis, Canton, Enderberry and Baker Islands. This colonization was an attempt to exclude the Japanese from the area and gain a strategic foothold. Duane sailed to Howland Island from Honolulu on 12 January 1937 loaded with material, equipment and manpower to begin construction of an "emergency" airfield. Recently declassified telegrams confirm the date of departure and the exact purpose of the airfield. It was being built as a "courtesy" to Amelia Earhart (Morrisy & Osborne, 1987).

This proved to be a formidable task as the vessel could only approach to within one-quarter mile of the shore. With no lagoon or suitable landing area, all material and equipment, including two heavy tractors had to be transferred by pontoons through heavy surf. Successfully completed, this project marked the first preparations in the Pacific by the U.S. in anticipation of WW II (Brink, 1994). After Earhart's disappearance, Duane along with Taney and another Coast Guard cutter, Itasca, spent forty-seven days at sea in a fruitless search for the aviator (Mercy & Grove, 1945). information on Japanese activities in the South Pacific. An account of the doomed flight details the activities of the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca. The Itasca is said to have been working for approximately one year in relation to activities concerning colonization in the Line Islands. After the unexplained loss of Earhart, Itasca joined William J. Duane in shuttling materials and personnel between the various islands of the central Pacific that were the focus of secret U.S. government activity (Brink, 1994). In 1946 a party from Treasury class vessel Taney dedicated the Amelia Earhart lighthouse on Howland Island as a memorial to the lost pilot and her navigator (Morrisy & Osborne, 1987).

Treasury class vessels carried full names until May-June 1937, when the names were shortened to surnames only. Treasury class vessel Alexander Hamilton eventually had the full name restored to avoid being confused with the four-stack destroyer Hamilton (Schiena, 1990). In 1942 Alexander Hamilton and 24 crewmen where lost to a torpedo from U-132 or possibly a mine near Iceland (Morrison, 1950; Ingham, 1994; Waters, 1984).

Transferred to Boston, Massachusetts, and assigned to the U.S. Navy Neutrality Patrol in 1939, Duane protected sea-lanes for non-belligerent nations and conducted weather observation patrols as a member of Destroyer Division 18. With the increased U.S. involvement in the war, Duane was returned to dry-dock and given additional armament. Several 20-mm guns, two new 5' and two 3" mounts as well as depth charges were added enabling better service as a convoy escort (Scott, 1994). These and subsequent changes may be seen by careful examination of photographs #6-#13 included with this document.

Prior to 1939 weather reporting was handled almost entirely by a civilian agency, the U.S. Weather Bureau. The Coast Guard had cooperated with the bureau in forecasting for several years. On 25 January 1940 the Coast Guard assumed a larger role in reporting and observation when it was authorized to use the Treasury class vessels in the Atlantic Weather Observation. Service. The Weather Observation Patrol was established 12 June of 1941. Duane and Bibb were first to serve in this capacity, which was initiated, in large part to protect the ever-increasing air traffic crossing the Atlantic.

By February, five Treasury class cutters served as weather-patrol vessels between the Azores and Bermuda. Each patrol included a twenty-one day turn in a ten-mile square area. Under wartime conditions the Boston based vessels had been relieved of all other duties and weather patrol was a full time assignment while Taney remained in the Pacific through out most of the war.

The chief of the Weather Bureau in Washington, D.C., stressed the strategic importance of these weather observations in 1943. He stated that the reports provided were of vital importance to the war operations in the Atlantic. The extreme difficulty and the hardships of the station vessels were recognized, but the importance of the information was seen as compensation for the effort. War developments eventually demanded the use of the Treasury class vessels elsewhere, and other craft taken over by the Coast Guard assumed their duties (Willoughby, 1957).

In August of 1940 Duane was assigned to make air surveys of the west coast of Greenland for possible landing fields. Greenland was a Danish island and Germany had invaded Denmark in April of 1940. The security of Greenland was vital to U.S. war efforts primarily due to the presence of the only U.S. source of cryolite, a mineral essential in the manufacture of aluminum. The possibility of either side using Greenland as an air base and for weather observations added to the importance of keeping the island out of hands of Germany. Coast Guard cutters Duane and Northland using their planes surveyed both coasts for possible airfield locations and signs of enemy activity. The resulting data was compiled into charts for the "Greenland Pilot", adding another publication to those of the Hydrographic Office (Morrison, 1950). In 1941 Duane carried a Curtiss SOC-4, prior to that a Gruman V148 (JF-2). These amphibious planes were serviced by crane and carried on the rear deck of the ships when not in use (Pearcy, 1989) (Photograph #6).

In June of 1941, six months before the U.S. officially entered the war, Duane, while on weather observation patrol in the North Atlantic, picked up the SOS from the British steamship Tressillian, which was under fire from a German U-boat The Duane reached the position of the sinking during daylight on the 14th and began an extensive search for survivors, working to the east. Three Navy flying boats led the search to a point twenty miles from the reported location of the sinking. There Duane found the crew of the Tressill ian adrift in two lifeboats. The cooperation between Duane and the Navy planes led to the rescue of the entire ship's crew (Morrison, 1950).

In April of 1941 the United States had become protector of Greenland for the duration of the impending war and in May, President Roosevelt declared a national state of emergency with the warning that no ships or planes of "belligerent nations" were to be allowed into the Western Hemisphere. Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet (formerly the United States Navy Neutrality Patrol) organized the fleet into task forces to patrol the Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean (Kelshall, 1994).

As one measure to expedite the transfer of American destroyers from the North Atlantic, Admiral King directed the Atlantic based 327-foot Treasury class Coast Guard cutters be assigned formally and permanently to convoy-escort duty in the western Atlantic sector. This was prompted by the success of Treasury class cutter Campbell acting as an escort for Convoy HX-159 in November of 1941. In due course, five of these six big, roomy vessels (Bibb, Campbell, Duane, Ingham, Spencer) were to be become workhorses on the convoy routes, incomparably superior to the American, British, and Canadian four-stackers and in many ways more suitable for this task than modern American 'fleet destroyers (Blair, 1996).

In 1939 Admiral King had recommend the adoption of this class of cutters as the standard in convoy escort vessels. Disagreement about details of speed and weapons delayed their construction. Another design was eventually chosen, but too late, and, though only the six Hamilton (Treasury) class cutters were available, their results were disproportionate to their numbers. Every U-boat sunk by a surface escort vessel before May 1943 was by Treasury class cutter. "Their performance was said to be was glorious, their casualties heavy" (Morrison, 1950; Waters, 1984 p. 84).

While neither the U. S. Navy nor Coast Guard entered the war with much knowledge of anti-submarine warfare, most of the Coast Guard crews and those in command had gained experience in the Rum War of the twenties and thirties. Some of the experience gained in chasing smugglers had applications in anti-submarine warfare. The Coast Guard assigned the best men to the Hamiltons as they were the newest and best of the Coast Guard fleet. This combination of experience and modern vessels proved to be very effective. In those uncertain, early days of the war, the Coast Guard's fleet of patrol cutters was the backbone of the escort force. At times, in fact, the Hamilton class of so-called combat cutters and a lone Navy destroyer were the only United States escort craft making the trans-Atlantic run to Britain. "The 327-footers of the Hamilton class shone" (Ingham, 1944 p. 9 1-92).

1942 found Duane and the other Treasury class vessels in Hvalfjordur, Iceland acting as convoy escorts of the Mid Ocean Escort Force or M.O.E.F. (Photograph #7). In April Duane had been converted for Navy duty at Boston Naval Shipyard. The cutters escorted smaller convoys to and from the main convoy routes. These convoys formed the lifeline for supplies to England and Allied forces in Europe.

As Admiral King inspected the fleet units in June of that year, Allied shipping was being decimated by submarine attacks due to a lack of escorts. At the outbreak of war in the Pacific most modern U.S. destroyers had been transferred to aid the efforts there. They guarded fast moving troop transports, and what few remained in the Atlantic protected vital military convoys. The few remaining destroyers were sent to Africa in 1942, leaving the Treasury cutters as the only modern U.S. ships involved in convoy escort (Ingham, 1944; Price, 1994).

In the first five months of 1942, Axis submarines claimed 129 tankers in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Allied naval forces under Admiral King, in time, managed to reduce tanker losses in the Eastern Sea Frontier to nearly zero, but the problem persisted in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. King had been unable to establish convoy routes between Trinidad~, the Texas and Louisiana oil ports and Key West, Florida. This was due in part to the failure of a plan, backed by President Roosevelt, for U.S. shipyards to produce "Sixty Ships in Sixty Days". In order to meet this need, Admiral King asked the British Admiralty for a loan of several Corvettes, to which they agreed. This allowed a series of convoy routes to be established in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico (Price, 1994) This was later to send Duane to the U.S. East Coast, Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. 1943 saw Duane as a member of Escort Group A-S escorting convoys across the Atlantic (Photograph #8). During the year the ship was credited with attacks on two enemy submarines, on 9 February and again on 17 September (Rowher & Hummelchen, 1992).

Another of her many wartime rescue efforts occurred from 3-6 February of that year when the troop transport Dorchester was torpedoed 150 miles off of Cape Farewell. Dorchester carrying 904 men was struck and sank just after midnight 0113 February. Aboard the Dorchester four chaplains heroically gave their life jackets to other men and were lost with the ship. Along with cutters Escabana, Comanche and Tampa, Duane searched for survivors. It was during this rescue operation that the "retrieval" method of rescue was initiated. Seamen from the Treasury class cutters donned rubber suits and jumped into the water to aid survivors rendered helpless by the cold. The Escabana alone rescued 132 men which was more than the number in her own crew. The Escabana was lost a short time later with only two survivors. Finding only bodies, Duane, along with Tampa, unsuccessfully attempted to find and destroy the submarine responsible. Duane then went to the Curtis Bay Shipyard in Maryland for repairs and overhaul. On 31 March 1943 the vessel arrived in Argentum, Newfoundland to once again resume escort duty (Culver, nd) (Photograph #8).

On 15 April 1943, German U-boat, U-262 sighted Allied convoy HX. 233 headed for Londonderry, Ireland. The convoy with Ocean Escort Group A3, was composed of 57 ships under the command of Cdr. Paul R. Heinemann. It was the only escort group under American command. Coast Guard cutters Duane and Spencer, along with several Canadian corvettes, a destroyer and three British ships, protected the convoy. Duane had joined the convoy to replace Campbell, which had been damaged while sinking U-606. Submarine U-262 served as contact keeper, guiding the "wolfpack" to the convoy, but was driven off by the convoy escorts (Photograph #9).

On the night of April 16-17, U-175 relocated the convoy off Newfoundland. Radio contact with other U-boats allowed them to sink one ship, Fort Rampart, but also enabled Spencer to locate U-175 using HFIDF (Huff-Duff), an electronic direction finder. Spencer eventually made sonar contact with U-175. The 750-ton submarine was attempting to fire torpedoes from within the screen of escorts. Spencer maintained sound contact and initiated the attack with mousetrap contact mines and depth charges while directing Duane through the convoy to join in the battle. Submerged at 38 fathoms, U-175 was damaged by the depth charges and surfaced 48 minutes after first contact near the rear of the convoy, about one mile from Spencer and Duane.

As U-175 surfaced, it came under fire from Navy armed guards aboard the merchant ships as well as Spencer and Duane. As Spencer prepared to ram the submarine, the deadly accurate fire from both cutters made it necessary for the U-175 crew to abandon ship. Shots fired from the doomed submarine and "friendly fire" struck Spencer, costing the life of one crewmember, J. T. Patrillo RM3C, and wounding several others. Ramming the U-boat proved unnecessary, as it was steaming in a wide circle completely disabled, as the crew abandoned ship. During this battle a boarding party from Spencer reached the U-boat in time for a Lt. Bullard to board. It was the first time in over a century that an American had boarded an enemy man'o war while it was underway (Waters, 1984). After the U-175 sank, Duane aided in the rescue of the crew, bringing aboard 22 German survivors. Duane delivered two officers and twenty enlisted men as prisoners to British authorities at North Gourrock, Scotland. Duane and Spencer then returned to New York (Morrison, 1950; Mercy & Grove, 1945; Willoughby, 1957; Blair, 1996).

The relative safe passage of convoy HX-233 was seen as a pivotal event in the Battle of the Atlantic. Prior to April 1943, convoys escorts had been unable to adequately defend shipping across the Atlantic. The battles earlier in the year had been costly to the U-boat fleet and many had been withdrawn for repair. This created a "hole" through which convoys passed more safely.

Convoy HX-233 was seen as a test, which would draw the U-boats out and strike a heavy blow. An increase in convoy strength through newly formed support groups of Allied ships, the breaking of the most recent German code and improved long range air support allowed convoys to avoid U-boats and to be better defended when they were encountered. HX-233 proved the Allies could at last safely conduct transports, and marked a turning point in the war. Duane was an important part of this action.

Between May and December of 1943 Duane continued as a convoy escort making three trips from New York to Casablanca. Duane was credited with two more attacks on U-boats, one on 14 June and another 7 August (Rohwer & Hummelchen, 1992). In early December of 1943 Duane arrived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to escort Caribbean convoys. After a summer of mostly unsuccessful raids, and the loss of seven U-boats, Germany left the area in early August. The heavily patrolled waters had left little hope of torpedoing Allied transports. In October Germany began a series of "nuisance" raids with mine laying being the principal activities. These produced no tangible results.

Early in November 1944 a three-boat attack on Caribbean shipping was initiated. One of the U-boats, U-516, carried out a highly successful raid, destroying more shipping than ten other submarines had during a blitz earlier in the year. After sinking five merchant ships U-516 headed for home. An intensive search for the submarine had been mounted but U-516 managed to attack and sink another freighter on 16 December out running patrols. On the 17th the Duane and other patrol craft charged out of the Bocas to join in the hunt. Despite the intensive search U-516 escaped and reached Germany (Morrison, (1950).

The submarine threat continued throughout the war but 1943 marked a turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic. Every U-boat sunk by a surface escort in the North Atlantic prior to their withdrawl in May of 1943 was sunk by a Treasury class cutter (Waters, 1984). Every aspect of German submarine warfare had failed. The attempt to block supplies to Europe, to tie up men and ships and to stop the invasions of Africa and Italy and other Allied offensives had all failed. Duane had taken part in virtually every major action in the Atlantic, Arctic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Escort duties had taken Duane to North Africa, Italy and Ireland as well (Culver, nd-, Mercy & Grove, 1945; Morrison, 1950; Waters, 1984; Willoughby, 1957).

In 1944-45 the Navy converted the Atlantic based Treasury class cutters to serve as flagships for amphibious task force landings. Duane arrived at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in mid-January 1944 to be converted to an Amphibious Task Force flagship. The 327's were to serve as headquarters ships for the invasion of Europe, and controlling communications for amphibious operations. Any modem electronic device having application to this mission was installed, making the vessels floating radio stations. The cutters served as flagships for landing operations for landing craft for a large force of minesweepers, minelayers, and net layers and for a Transport Area screening groups during landing operations. Duane was the first to be converted and redesigned. Duane, was assigned a new call sign, WAGC-33 (Culver, nd; Willoughby, 1957) (Photograph #1O).

On 9 August of 1944 Duane left Naples, Italy for the Normandy invasion as the Flagship of the Eighth Amphibious Force, Mediterranean. She carried the flag and staffs of Rear Admiral F.J. Lowry and General John W. O'Daniel. Duane left in convoy on the 14th and after a stop at Ajaccio, Corsica, guided the convoy to the assault area near Baiede Cavalaire, France. Duane arrived nine minutes early, at 04:51 on 15 August. This was the beginning of Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern Europe.

Duane took part in the shore bombardment, air attacks and troop landings. After two hours, Duane, along with the assault vessels, moved to the inner transport area from the outer area. The outer transport area for the big ships was ten miles off shore and the inner one, for landing craft was five miles out. At 16:12 Duane entered Baie de Cavalaire and moored.

Rear Admiral Lowry's objective with his Alpha Force was to take Saint-Tropez and the southwestern portion of the coastal invasion area. Major General O'Daniel's 3rd division landed on two beaches thirteen miles apart. Alpha Red or Cavalaire Beach and Alpha Yellow at the Baie de Pampelonne. By 08:50 all beaches had been secured, and at 10:44 Gen. O'Daniel left Duane and went ashore. Though carrying extra medical personnel and supplies, Duane handled only normal medical care and treated no casualties due to battle. Duane took part in all subsequent Mediterranean operations while the remaining Treasury class vessels were reassigned to the Pacific. In one month Operation Dragoon was over, though the war went on for several more months. In Naval history it is said to stand as an example of an almost perfect amphibious operation. Duane and the Treasury class played vital roles in this and all remaining operations in the Mediterranean (Culver, nd: Morrison, 1950; Willoughby, 1957).

After the war, Duane was refitted for peacetime duties assuming the appearance of an ocean station vessel or O.S.V. Operating out of Boston, Duane returned to weather patrol, search and rescue, law enforcement and fisheries duties, for which it was originally designed. The National Oceanic Program used patrol vessels as floating platforms for oceanographic investigation. Duane covered ocean stations (O.S.), which were 210 square mile patches of the Atlantic. These stations were located at strategic points along shipping and air travel routes. While on O.S. patrols, ships passed along weather information to ships and aircraft and sent information to shore stations and forecasters every hour. They relayed radio messages for commercial and military aircraft, furnished them with navigational weather information and served as a checkpoint at the point of no return for aircraft (U.S.C.G.C. Duane, ship's data, nd).

Without the services of these patrols, trans-oceanic air travel would have been much more dangerous if not impossible and travel by ship was far safer. This was demonstrated by the many rescue missions that were conducted by Treasury class vessels. On 4 May 1957 Duane accomplished the most celebrated rescue. Patrolling ocean station "Echo", under the command of P.B. Mavor when Duane received a distress call. The 324-ft. Finnish freighter M/S Bornholm with ore from Spain, was bound for Wilmington, Delaware. During a fierce storm between the Azores and Bermuda, Bornholm suffered a cracked hull and eventually sank. Duane saved all 28 crewmen in high seas and driving rain (U.S.C.G.C. Duane ships data, nd.). In October of 1947 another Treasury vessel Bibb, had rescued all 69 passengers and crew of an airliner ditched at sea in near hurricane conditions (U.S.C.G.C. Bibb, ship's data, nd). Examples such as these indicate that the design of the ships and the dedication of their crews was extraordinary.

On 1 May 1965 the Treasury class vessels were re-designated as High Endurance Cutters or WHEC. This designation indicates a multi-mission ship able to operate at sea for 30-45 days without support. During the 1960's they were again rearmed with anti-submarine warfare weapons (Culver, nd). On 4 December of 1967 Duane was assigned to C.G. Squadron Three off the Coast of Viet Nam (Photograph #11). Cutters from the east coast were trained for three weeks at Fleet Training Group at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba before their deployment. Subic Bay in the Philippines served as homeport during deployment. The primary mission was the interdiction of supplies and arms being smuggled to the Viet Cong and providing support to ground forces by naval gunfire. These patrols were part of Operation Market Time and involved the boarding and inspection of vessels suspected of carrying troops, arms or supplies to North Viet Nam.

Patrols off the coast of Viet Nam were three weeks each, with one WHEC remaining in the Gulf of Thailand to offer support to ground troops with their long range Sin, guns. Randomly cruising 15-20 miles off the 1000-mile coastline as outer barrier ships, the HEC’s were under the command of Coastal Surveillance Force 115. These barrier vessels were aided in the search for suspect vessels by Navy aircraft.

While serving in Viet Nam, as in earlier missions, medical teams sent by Duane ‘s commander Capt. J.W. Hume, treated more than 300 native people in the fishing villages of Co Phu and Pho Tu. A variety of illnesses were treated and for many it was the first medical care ever received. Duane left Southeast Asia 28 July of 1968 after a final 8800- mile patrol with Operation Market Time. In total, the vessel had fired 17 tons of high explosives into enemy shore positions and was credited with destroying 29 bunkers and structures. The last patrol mission was to the Bo De River area during which the 1776th round was fired through the deck guns on the 4th of July. Duane then returned to the U.S. by way of Thailand (Lazerle, 1997). It was the 31st year of service and second war for the vessel.

After returning Duane once more assumed the role of O.S.V. In May of 1971, a conference was held to reduce tensions between U.S. and Soviet fishing vessels. The participants of the conference, held at sea, included an American ambassador, the Commander of the Soviet Georges Fishing Bank fishing fleet and local fishing industry representatives. Duane provided support for the conference, which proved successful and conflicts were reduced. Shortly afterward in 1972 Duane was reassigned to the final homeport of Portland, Maine.

With the elimination of ocean weather stations in 1975, Duane assumed new duties, including the enforcement of fisheries regulations in the U.S. 200mile Exclusive Economic Zone (IEEZ). As in the original mission design, drug interdiction along with search and rescue was once again an important part of Duane’s duties. The vessel was also used in the training of officers and the maintenance of military readiness. Duane again served as a floating laboratory and research platform for the National Oceanographic program (U.S.C.G.C. Duane, ships data (nd). In 1980 Duane once again became an escort vessel while accompanying refugees fleeing Cuba in the Mariel boat lift.

On 7 November 1982 Duane was forced to fire shots across the bow of the merchant vessel Biscayne Breeze. Finally stopped and boarded 400 miles south east of Cape Cod, the Biscayne Breeze had 30 tons of marijuana on board. On 15 March 1983 the crew of the Honduran merchant vessel Civonney opened the seacocks, set fires aboard and abandoned ship. A boarding party from Duane found a large quantity of marijuana aboard, but the vessel sank 270 miles off of Cape May (Scott, 1994; U.S.C.G.C. Duane, ships data nd).

These efforts saw more than 59 tons of marijuana confiscated and several vessels seized. In missions as a drug intervention vessel Duane collected 6- marijuana leaves painted on the stack, one for each bust. Interdiction of drug smuggling was one of the original missions for which the Treasury class was designed and built and after nearly a half-century of service proved that they were more than capable of fulfilling the task.

Summation of the History U.S.C.G.C. Duane

Duane had assisted in the preparations for war in the Pacific and later in the Neutrality Patrol of the Atlantic. Duane took part in the defense of Greenland and helped deny Germany a foothold there. The service of Duane and that of the remainder of the Treasury class as escorts in W.W. II and the “Battle of the Atlantic” contributed greatly to the defeat of the German submarine threat. They were at one time, the foundation of the Atlantic Fleet and the only U.S. vessels escorting convoys. The Duane helped sink at least one German U-boat and rescued not only scores of allied sailors and merchant marines, but humanely rescued the enemy as well. The Duane and the Treasury class vessels played key roles in the invasion of southern Europe. Duane later served in Viet Nam, defending the country by aiding in the search for weapons and materials being smuggled into the country. Duane also supplied cover fire for ground troops, destroying numerous enemy structures. These are significant events in American history and qualify Duane for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places under criterion A.

On 1 August 1984 on the forty-ninth anniversary of commissioning, Duane was decommissioned and taken out of service (Photograph #12). The vessel now exceeds the 50-year requirement for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The six Treasury class vessels surviving WW II each surpassed an estimated service life of 30 years. Their reliability far exceeded that of most vessels and reflects well on their unique design and construction as well as those who repaired, maintained and sailed them. The cost of modernizing and maintaining a ship of their era finally proved to great too continue.

Peacetime service in search and rescue, weather patrol, fishery protection and drug interdiction has earned Duane a place in maritime history. Roles in the development of meteorology, aviation, communications and transportation technologies add to the historical significance. Duane is one of only seven Treasury class vessels built. Named in honor of Secretaries of the U.S. Treasury, they are a distinctive class of cutter and warship. Two other Treasury class vessels, Taney and Ingham have been included in National Register of Historic places or as National historic Landmarks. They serve as floating museums in Baltimore, Maryland and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, respectively.

Resting intact and upright in waters it once defended; Duane is an impressive example of this extremely successful design and class of ship. Being intact, Duane is an historical structure rather than an archaeological site. The vessel continues service to America and the world by protecting the fragile coral reef habitat of southern Florida, which attracts an estimated one-half million scuba divers each year. The nearly pristine condition of the vessel, massive structure and the ability to be explored in a setting of clear Gulf Stream waters make it an impressive sight and an important submerged cultural resource. The intense usage by marine life also makes Duane an important natural resource as it provides habitat for fish, marine mammals, and countless other forms of life. With little significant change in appearance, Duane is of National Significance as defined by criterion C.

Letter of Endorsement from Admiral J.M. Loy, Commandant United States Coast Guard



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Underwater Science Program
Last updated November 6, 2001
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