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The USS Duane was a US Coast Guard cutter class ship named after William J. Duane. The ship was in service from 1936 until 1985. My grandfather, John “Jack” Baker served as a medic on this ship from 1941 until 1945 during World War II. After the ship was decommissioned, it was laid to rest in Key Largo, FL where it has become a man made reef.
The history of the USS Duane during the years that my grandfather was onboard has been provided below, taken from the US Coast Guard Website.
The Duane was assigned to permanent duty with the Navy on 11 September 1941, and was designated WPG-33. She continued with her weather station patrols. It was while on weather patrol on 9 February 1942 that Duane picked up a strong echo on the echo-ranging machine, about 500 yards distant on the port beam. General quarters was sounded and one embarrassing depth charge was released, set for 300 feet. The Duane made a run on the target, releasing at five second intervals seven large depth charges (600 lbs.) set to explode at 300 feet. She fired her “Y” gun with the third charge with depth setting of 200 feet. She continued to search for eight hours in the general area, when a suspicious underwater sound was again heard. She sought better contact with negative results. Sea gulls were sighted three hours later with considerable oil on their bodies.
During February of 1942 while on convoy duty in the North Atlantic, the crew of Duane suffered a harrowing “man overboard” situation. The grandson of Duane’s commanding officer CAPT Albert Martinson, David Davies III, wrote an account of this remarkable event. Click here to access it. A former crewman, MM2/c Al Phaneufand, also recalled what became known as the “Miracle at Sea” or the “Goehring Incident”:
On 1 April 1942 Duane was relieved from further duty in connection with the North Atlantic Weather Patrol and directed to report to the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, for convoy escort duty. She was in drydock at the Boston Navy Yard until 8 April 1942, undergoing conversion and rearmament. Departing Boston Duane passed through the Cape Cod Canal on 10 April in a heavy snow storm. At 0529 she grounded at Hog Neck Light on the starboard edge of the channel. Attempting to back off without success, she requested aid and two hours later a tug passed her a tow line. The line parted ten minutes later and the current carried the cutter’s stern downstream with the bow still grounded. When finally floated, Duane was maneuvered to the center of the turning basin and returned to Boston for repairs. No hull damage was revealed but the dome for the underwater sound projector was believed crushed and binding on the projector. A board of investigation met to inquire into the facts after the cutter had drydocked for repairs.
On 19 April 1942 Duane was joined by the cutter Bibb (WPG-31) on antisubmarine exercises. These were followed by attack teacher exercises at Halifax, where Duane arrived on the 28th, escorting a merchant vessel in company with a British escort. On 2 May 1942, the cutter was underway en route Reykjavik, Iceland, intercepting convoy SCL-81 on May 6th, the convey consisting of 18 vessels with five escorts, including the Duane, Bibb and three Navy destroyers. The trip was uneventful, the convoy arriving at Hvalfjordur, Iceland, on the 8th.
On 15 May 1942 Duane was ordered to meet convoy SC-83 and take over four vessels in it which were bound for Iceland, a Navy escort assisting. The convoy was sighted on the 17th where the cutter took over 13 vessels. On the 20th she dropped the convoy at Grotta, Iceland, the escort unit then proceeding to Hvalfjordur, where Duane remained moored until the 26th.
The Duane stood out of Reykjavik, Iceland, on 10 June 1942, escorting a 15-ship convoy ONSJ-102, with two Navy destroyers to join up with the eastbound convoy ONS-102. She took charge of the main convoy on the 16th as the cutter Campbell (WPG-32) and a British escort vessel searched for a submarine. Several hours later Duane was ordered to assist the cutter Ingham (WPG-35) in a search. Ordered to rejoin the convoy at 1900, she and Ingham were unable to find it during the night, as it had made a sharp evasive turn to shake off the U-boats. The two cutters finally sighted the convoy at 1840 on the 18th and after release from further escort duty returned to Reykjavik on the 23rd, mooring at Hvalfjordur the same evening.
On 3 July 1942 Duane proceeded to sea in company with two Navy destroyers in search formation to intercept a convoy of 13 ships on the 5th. A report had been received by radio on the “BN” broadcast that two submarines were operating in the vicinity. The submarines failed to materialize, however, and on the 9th the convoy stood up the swept channel and fjord for anchorage at Hvalfjordur.
While anchored at Hvalfjordur on 25 July 1942, Duane was ordered to proceed to 64°N x 24°W, where a plane had reported sighting a submarine. The Duane got underway immediately and after proceeding for five hours at full speed arrived at noon in the vicinity of the reported sub, with the plane nowhere in sight. She began a search on a retiring search curve. Seven hours later she sighted what appeared to be a stick of bombs on the port beam exploding on the surface at the horizon. This was repeated at intervals and Duane changed course immediately and closed in. It soon developed that the high columns of water were spouts of whales, blowing. The Duane resumed the search until 2158 when she was ordered to proceed to Reykjavik.
The next day the cutter was prepared to receive guests of honor and at 1455 ADM Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, his staff, ADM D. S. Beary, Commander, Task Group 24.6, his staff and Mr. Stephen Early, Secretary to the President, came on board and were received with proper honors. They weighed anchor and proceeded up Hvalfjordur Fjord on an inspection cruise of harbor defenses. The party left ship at 1628.
While moored at Hvalfjordur on 3 August 1942 Duane, on orders got underway and proceeded down the fjord to search for a submarine reported to be 20 miles southwest of Reykjavik. A British destroyer was noted standing in the same direction. The search for the submarine continued on the 4th when a dispatch corrected the position of the sighting as farther westward where a plane was sighted at 0843, circling. On nearer approach, the plane was observed to be dropping smoke bombs. The plane left on the arrival of Duane. Listening conditions were excellent and the search continued throughout the morning. At 1500 Duane proceeded to port for repairs to her steering gear which had failed left two Navy and one British destroyer to take up the search in a heavy fog that had set in during the night. The fog obscured Skagi Light and Duane proceeded by radio compass and soundings to anchor at Reykjavik at 0235 on the 5th.
On 9 August 1942, Duane stood out of Reykjavik in company with a Navy destroyer to rendezvous with an Iceland-bound convoy. On the 12th she sighted suddenly out of a rain squall the Norwegian motor vessel SS Vibran, with whom she exchanged signals and who proved to be friendly, after an exchange of messages with Commander-in-Chief, Western Approaches. She was allowed to proceed east, but was examined closely and found to have no fittings for fueling U-boats. She had clean sides, no unusual armament and a deck cargo of invasion barges. On the 13th she met a British destroyer and two other vessels searching for derelicts and survivors from the convoy. At 1445 Duane turned the convoy over to a British escort and then proceeded to intercept convoy SC-95.
While escorting Convoy SC-95 in company with the Navy destroyer USS Schenck (DD-159), Duane, early on 15 August 1942, heard two explosions, followed by white rockets and snowflakes. They observed, on closing in, the black hulk of a ship among the ships of the convoy, with no signs of activity on or about her. At first she seemed to have the outline of SS Norluna and that vessel was consequently believed to be the ship that had been torpedoed. Smoke seemed to be coming from her but no flames were visible. The Schenck rejoined the convoy but Duane remained in the vicinity a short while longer in the hope of contacting the submarine. While it was deemed advisable for Duane to pick up survivors without cover from Schenck, it was also very hazardous to leave the convoy without protection. When Schenck rejoined the convoy she reported one straggler and two ships remaining in convoy.
The Duane, by changing course, attempted to intercept the straggler, without success. Later in the morning a TBS was heard indicating that an American merchant vessel had been sighted with survivors on board. That night three submarines seemed to be following the convoy, according to signals, to the eastward. Increasing signal strength indicated that they were getting closer and ships were darkened for protection. On the 17th a dispatch received indicated that a plane had on the preceding day sighted Norluna who proved not to have been torpedoed but the straggler from the convoy with the torpedoed vessel’s survivors, 30 miles north of the convoy, proceeding at 9 knots. No attempt was made to bring her back into the convoy as she was several hours ahead of the convoy, had air coverage, and would arrive at port with survivors, some of whom might require prompt medical care, before the convoy. She was believed reasonably safe as no submarines were reported in the vicinity, the convoy, it was believed, having successfully evaded those contacted on the 14th and 15th. The Duane dropped the convoy off at Grotta at 1125 on the 17th.
The Duane remained at anchor at Reykjavik through 5 September 1942, and then stood off Grotta Point with the Navy destroyer USS Leary (DD-158) for rendezvous with an outgoing convoy of four ships. On the 8th the convoy encountered a fresh gale, blowing from the east and convoy speed was reduced to 3.5 knots, one vessel suddenly dropping out of the convoy because of engine trouble. She was advised to return to Reykjavik. On the 11th Duane and Leary were relieved by a corvette and proceeded to join the Iceland-bound convoy SC-99. This convoy, which consisted of 66 ships, was intercepted on 13 September and Duane and Leary assigned stations as escorts. On the 17th, Duane made contact at close range and dropped an “E” charge in close proximity to the convoy and then proceeded through the convoy to the spot where the charge was dropped, searching astern until midnight without results. The convoy was anchored off Grotta Point, in Reykjavik’s outer harbor, on the 17th without further incident.
The Duane remained moored at Reykjavik from 17 September to 4 October 1942. On October 5th she began escorting, in company with Ingham and Schenck, the outbound five-ship convoy ONSJ-136. On the 7th, the weather increased in intensity, blowing a whole gale. The convoy scattered badly, each escort remaining with a small group of ships. The Duane stayed with USS Yukon (AF-9) until about noon when contact with her was lost and the Duane began searching for other ships in the convoy. Finally the one ship was found traveling alone, while the Ingham was with another ship 6,000 yards to the west. The Ingham was instructed to bring the two convoyed ships together and the Duane continued to search for others during the afternoon, Ingham’s radar being superior, the Duane took over the escort of the two ships and Ingham began to search for the others. The Schenck reported being with another ship of the convoy and sighting others to the northwest. The Schenck found and joined the latter group and knowing the course and speed of the others finally brought them all together at 2115, with three ships still missing.
What remained of the convoy was kept together with difficulty during the night, which was marked by rain and sleet squalls. At daylight on the 8th, the convoy was again badly scattered. Air coverage appeared and the plane was asked to search for the three stragglers. Difficulty was encountered with SS Peter Helms, which was repeatedly cautioned about smoke. The speed was reduced to seven knots but during the night Peter Helms left the convoy, her master thoroughly miffed about the admonitions regarding smoke, and proceeded independently. On the 9th, the main convoy was sighted and the convoy ONSJ-136 was turned over to its escort commander. The Duane, with Ingham and Schenck, then proceeded to Hvalfjordur, arriving on the 12th.
Weighing anchor on 18 October 1942 to shift anchorage, the steering gear jammed and investigation showed that a vertical shaft on the follow-up link system had been subjected to severe strain and had twisted about 25 degrees. It was noted that the cut adjusting nut on the hydraulic end was loose and the adjusting screw out of place on the starboard side. This was undoubtedly the cause of the accident to the steering gear. It was not believed possible for this to have come out of adjustment unless it had been tampered with. The steering gear had been tested before getting underway but the derangement had not been noted. Precautionary measures were taken in handling the wheel, in case sabotage was being attempted.
On 7 November 1942, Duane proceeded to Reykjavik and at 1545 began escorting eight vessels off Grotta Point in company with Bibb. On the 9th Ingham joined the escort group which proceeded eastward. On the night of the 10th, the wind increased to force 8, and the radar indicated the convoy was scattering. During the afternoon of the 11th, Duane was engaged in bringing four vessels together and escorted these until about 1600, when Bibb joined up with the remaining vessels. Again on the night of the 11th, two vessels were apparently straggling, but not seriously. Due to sea conditions no attempt was made to bring them back. They were rounded up next day, however, and the convoy proceeded intact, except for two vessels believed to be with Ingham. The weather moderated during the day but the Ingham failed to join. On the 14th Duane scouted 15 miles ahead and miles south for the main convoy but failed to sight it. The main convoy was sighted on the 15th and Duane turned her ships over to it and returned to Reykjavik.
On 25 November 1942, Duane proceeded westward and on the 29th stood in to join convoy HX-216 proceeded from Iceland, with two Navy destroyers. On December 1st they were relieved of further duty with Convoy HK-216 and proceeded to contact convoy SCL-110 proceeding toward Ireland. On the 2nd, sighted convoy SCL-110 which broke off from SC-110 and set course 350° T at seven knots with Duane in the van and the two Navy destroyers on the port and starboard beams. One contact which proved non-sub was investigated and a floating mine was sunk. On the 3rd she moored at Reykjavik and on the 4th proceeded to Hvalfjordur.
On 17 December 1942 Duane proceeded to Reykjavik and on the 26th, in standing for anchorage, collided with the Norwegian drifter Boorene, that vessel sinking about 800 yards from the Engey Light. All of the crew were taken off by another drifter and Duane saved 11 bags of mail. On the 27th the convoy ONSJ-156, with seven ships, commenced forming and proceeded out of Reykjavik, having air coverage on the 29th. At 0700 on that day Campbell augmented the escort force. On the 30th convoy ONS-156 was sighted on a converging course and Duane, maneuvering in the vicinity of the cutter Spencer (WPG-36), was assigned outer screen on the starboard bow of the main convoy.
The Duane and the Navy destroyer Schenck were proceeding from convoy ONS-156 on 1 January 1943, to intercept the eastbound convoy SC-114. At daylight Duane sighted the British SS Ingham, who proved to be a straggler from ONS-156. She was informed of the rendezvous position for stragglers for the 1st and 2nd of January and permitted to proceed. The Schenck sighted friendly aircraft at 0950 on the 2nd and asked whether SC-114 had been sighted. The plane made reconnaissance and returned with the information that the convoy was 25 miles ahead. The Duane and Schenck thereupon reported for escort duty. At 2030 on the 2nd the Navy destroyer USS Babbitt (DD-128) joined. On the 3rd the convoy SCL-114 was detached from the main convoy. It consisted of three vessels in convoy with two stragglers. On the 5th, Duane dropped the convoy off Grotta Point and proceeded to fuel in Reykjavik Harbor.
On 14 January 1943, Duane received orders to join eastbound convoy SC-116, bound for Iceland, which was threatened with a heavy sub attack. The Babbitt joined off Skagi, Iceland on the 15th and the Duane proceeded at 18 knots. The Babbitt being unable to maintain this speed, due to the heavy seas, was directed to continue at best speed. Later that evening Duane slowed to 16 knots due to heavy seas, increasing again early on the 16th to 18 knots and reached the estimated convoy position at noon. She began searching south and east, while Babbitt searched south and west. Two hours later she sighted the convoy 12 miles distant and notified Babbitt. The Duane was directed to act independently in the van of the convoy and the Babbitt joining an hour later, took station to her starboard. Eight hours later Schenck joined and was assigned a station to starboard of the Babbitt.
On the 18th the convoy had plane coverage and one of the British destroyers detached to proceed to Reykjavik with leaking fuel tanks and boiler trouble. On the 19th Babbitt detached to escort USS Polaris (AF-11) to Reykjavik while a PBY furnished air coverage for four hours. Another British destroyer departed for Reykjavik. On the 20th the Polish destroyer ORP Burza and ENS Eglantine departed for Reykjavik for fuel. The Duane sank floating mine. On the 21st machine gun fire was noted from ship #43, the reason not being determined. Another British destroyer departed for Reykjavik for fuel. On the 22nd the wind was force 10 with a heavy sea and a convoyed vessel sent an report that her stern post was being carried away. Another reported her No. 1 hatch stove in and the master injured. The Schenck returned to Reykjavik with a man who had sustained serious face injuries and a possible skull fracture due to the rough seas. The Duane was detailed to stand by a straggler reported to have dropped astern with steering trouble. On the 23rd air coverage was furnished and the Iceland group detached, with a straggler, escorted by two Navy destroyers. On the 24th Duane detached from the convoy and returned to Hvalfjordur.
The Duane was underway again on 28 January 1943, in company with two Navy destroyers as escort of the westbound convoy ONSJ-163 consisting of nine ships. Air coverage was furnished on the 29th. Stragglers from the main convoy ONS-163 were sighted on the 30th and the main convoy was joined at noon. The two Navy destroyers returned to Reykjavik and Duane was assigned to the port bow section of the main convoy. On February 2nd a U. S. bomber passed en route to base and the peaks of the mountains behind Cape Farewell, Greenland, were sighted. On 3 February 1943, Duane departed the convoy to proceed to the scene of the torpedoing of SS Dorchester at 59° 22′ N x 48° 42′ W, arriving at that position at 1525.
She began a diagonal search of a five mile area extending 75 miles down wind and at 2000 a rectangular search pattern around same area. Dim lights were reported early on the 4th twice on the same relative bearing. Returning to the position of the torpedoing at daylight, oil patches, empty life jackets, boats and other small wreckage was sighted. At 0937 a submarine was sighted about eight miles distant and Duane headed for it at 19 knots. The sub headed directly away after drawing right and then turned right, half an hour later it submerged at 10,500 yards range and Duane began a retiring search allowing for the sub’s speed of six knots. An hour later the cutter began using target speeds of three knots for the search curve. The retiring search plan was abandoned after a 300° arc had been completed and the cutter searched six miles from the point of submersion without results. The search was continued using the D.R. plot.
At 1445 the cutter Tampa (WPG-48) arrived. The Duane passed eight bodies in life jackets, and two swamped lifeboats, one containing ten, and the other four, bodies of soldiers. On the 5th the search for survivors continued in company with Tampa. A pattern of depth charges was dropped on an underwater sound contact. At 0572 the search was abandoned and at 0900 a new search was begun to the westward on a rectangular pattern. Ordered to proceed to St. John’s, Newfoundland, Duane encountered a disabled ship from convoy ONS-163 screened by a British escort early on the 7th and later two stragglers from the same convoy. She began screening the first vessel which had made repairs and was steaming at eight knots for St. John’s. Five hours later she dropped a five charge pattern on a good underwater contact with no apparent results, searching the vicinity for two hours without regaining contact. On the 8th she stood through a thick fog to locate the escort task unit of convoy ONS-167, but was unable to do so and was ordered to proceed St. John’s where she moored at 1625.
On 9 February 1943, Duane stood out of St. John’s harbor to escort USS Orizaba (AP-24) to Boston and arrived there on the 12th. The next day she proceeded to Curtis Bay arriving on the 17th and remained there until 21 March 1943, undergoing repairs. On the 23rd of March she proceeded to Casco Bay arriving on the 27th for anti-submarine exercises, attack teacher drill, and instructions in range-finding. Returning to Boston on March 29th, she entered drydock for repairs to her QC (underwater sound apparatus) dome and was underway to Argentia on 31 March 1943.
Arriving at Argentia on 2 April 1943, Duane remained moored until 11 April when she became part of CTU 24.1.3, which included Spencer, as flagship, and four British escorts. This task unit met convoy HX-233 en route Londonderry on the 12th. On the 17th, SS Fort Rampart, a vessel in the convoy, was torpedoed and the Canadian corvette HMCS Arvida took aboard 49 survivors, three in need of medical attention. These Duane took aboard.
At 1110 Duane was ordered to take station ahead as Spencer was dropping back through the convoy following a contact on which she had already dropped two patterns of depth charges. Five minutes later the Spencer ordered Duane to close her and take over the contact. The Duane began a search on the indicated location and thirty minutes later a 740-ton German U-boat surfaced about 2,700 yards from the Duane. A minute later Spencer opened fire and Duane went ahead at full speed toward the submarine and after clearing her line of fire so as not to hit Spencer also opened fire. The submarine was now at right angles to the line of fire and several hits were obtained, one nicely centered on the submarine’s conning tower. Seven minutes later, as men on deck were seen jumping overboard, Duane ceased fire.
The conning tower was smoking liberally and the submarine was moving ahead slowly, circling to the right. The Duane maneuvered to pick up survivors and by 1158 had picked up nine German enlisted men and one officer. Then she screened Spencer while that cutter sent a boat to the submarine. Twenty five minutes later the submarine, later ascertained to be the U-175, sank stern first. The Duane lowered a boat and picked up eleven more German enlisted men and one more officer. Four of the prisoners received medical attention. On the 20th Duane moored at North Gourock, Scotland, and delivered all prisoners to the custody of the British authorities and then proceeded to Londonderry arriving on 22 April 1943.
While putting clothing on the survivors, one of the prisoners from the sunken submarine, Leutnant zur See Wolfgang Verlohr, began talking freely and rather fluently in English. He had been afraid that Duane would not stop to pick up the submarine’s survivors in spite of his crew’s shouts and arm waving. He spoke of how cold the water was. He had jumped in soon after the submarine had surfaces. “It is not easy down there,” he said. “The bombs were bad. The ship was not hurt, but inside it was all bad. Everything shaking, things fall down. It smelled bad and hurt the eyes.” He commented on the excellence of the attack. “We came up and saw you in the periscope, but you saw us and we knew it was all over. Our chance to get you was gone. We don’t like the bombs. It is hard when they shake the boat. We went down when you saw us and the bombs started going off, things stopped and would not work, a lot of things broke.” He explained that they had raised the flippers and pumped air to try to steady the submarine. Not being able to steady her they surfaced and then our guns started and very soon after that he jumped into the water. “Did you see the other boat?” he asked. “She picked up some of your crew” he was told. Then it was realized that he meant another submarine. He had been in Barbados a year ago and up until two trips ago had been in the South Atlantic where they had sunk a six or seven thousand-ton ship full of “cement and things,” bound for Moravia from Trinidad. Later he criticized his commanding officer for making a daylight attack, which he considered proper procedure only if the moon shone so brightly at night as to make attacks after dark risky for the submarine.
The Duane departed Londonderry for Moville on 29 April 1943, and on May 1st was en route Boston in company with the Spencer. Arriving at Argentia on May 5, Duane began escorting SS Sabine Sun to Boston on the 8th, and arrived there on the 12th. She was undergoing repairs until the 24th, proceeding to New York on the 25th.
Joining Task Force 69 on 28 May 1943, Duane began escorting convoy UGS-9 to Casablanca. On the 8th of June she had a bearing on a submarine and later aircraft from a carrier attacked a surfaced 17 miles from the convoy. Two destroyers were sent to attack the submarine but it submerged when they were 7 miles away. One plane returned to the carrier with an engine smoking as a result of anti-aircraft fire from the submarine. On the 10th an Army bomber over the convoy and on the 11th Army and Navy planes provided coverage. There was a collision between two convoy vessels on the 12th and on the 13th a Spanish vessel was sighted. On the 14th Duane dropped three patterns of depth charges on an underwater contact. On the 15th the task force began escorting the Casablanca section of the convoy into port where they moored the next day.
The Duane stood out of Casablanca on 21 June 1943, in company with Spencer, Campbell, and three Navy destroyers for a sweep before convoy departure and the next day joined the escort of the Casablanca section of convoy GUS-8A which they joined shortly after noon, relieving the British escort. On the 28th and 29th contacts were depth charged and investigated by escort vessels without results. While fueling at sea on July 3rd Duane suffered light damage to her propeller guard and gun platform sponson support. A sound contact was attacked by an escort destroyer. Another destroyer departed for Bermuda on the 6th to hospitalize an injured merchant vessel seaman. The New York section six ships broke off on the 8th with Duane (flag), Spencer, Campbell and a Navy destroyer as escort. The convoy anchored near Ambrose Lightship late on the 10th in a thick fog, moving into the harbor on the 12th of July, 1943.
The Duane proceeded to New London on 23 July 1943, standing out next day for training exercises and then left for Hampton Roads in company with Spencer and 3 Navy destroyers arriving on the 25th. On the 27th stood out to join Task Force 64, escorting UGS-31 to Casablanca. On August 7th, one charge was dropped on a doubtful contact classified as non-sub. Entering Casablanca on 13 August 1943, Duane moored in the inner harbor.
On 19 August 1943, Duane proceeded to Gibraltar with Task Force 64 and the next day departed as escort to convoy GUS-12. The Casablanca section escorted by Spencer and three other escorts joined later that day. Obtaining a sound contact at 2,200 yards on the 31st Duane attacked with a shallow pattern of three charges but a study of the recorder trace revealed the contact as non-sub. On September 3rd the Norfolk section departed. On the 5th, Duane detached from the New York section as it entered the swept channel of New York harbor and, along with Spencer, proceeded to Boston, mooring at the South Boston Navy Yard on the 6th.
She remained on availability from the 7th to the 23rd of September undergoing repairs and on the 24th proceeded to Casco Bay for conning, machine gun, anti-submarine and anti-aircraft practice. Proceeding to Norfolk with Campbell on 2 October 1943 she was again underway en route Casablanca on the 5th as escort for convoy UGS-20 in company with Campbell and eight Navy destroyers. On the 7th she dropped three charges and fired to “K” guns on a good contact which had no propeller beats or doppler effect. Regaining contact she dropped an eight-charge pattern but abandoned further search after two hours. Another pattern of 10 depth charges was dropped on a contact on the 12th without results. On the 20th the Casablanca section detached with Duane, Campbell and three Navy escorts and moored at Casablanca on the 21st.
On 29 October 1943 Duane, Campbell and three Navy vessels began escorting the Casablanca section of GUS-19, joining Task Force 65 with the main convoy later that day. On November 1st and 2nd men were transferred from two of the convoyed vessels to Duane for medical treatment. On the 13th the New York section broke off with Duane and four Navy vessels. On the 15th Duane practiced dropping a shallow 50-foot pattern of charges and conducted tests with a hedgehog. Later she detached from the Task Force and proceeded independently to Boston, mooring at the South Boston Navy Yard on the 16th for 10 days availability.
On November 28th the Duane stood out of Boston in company with Campbell and arrived at Guantanamo Bay on December 2nd. On the 4th she was underway with a Dutch warship and four PCs as escort for convoy GAT-103 en route Trinidad, B.W.I. On the 7th the Aruba section of five ships detached as did the Dutch warship. An SC escorted two vessels to Curacao while an unescorted ship from Curacao joined. On the 9th the convoy entered Bocas de Dragon swept channel and on the 10th moored at Trinidad.
Underway on 17 December 1943, as Commander, Task Unit 4.1.2, two sound contacts were made and lost on 19 December and a two-ship anti-submarine search plan commenced. Later an area was searched in which a plane had reported contact with a submarine. On the 20th medical aid was rendered for an Argentia vessel contacted. On the 22nd the escort vessels detached from the convoy and the Duane after refueling at Santa Lucia returned to Trinidad on the 25th. On the 30th she was underway escorting convoy TAG-106 as Commander Task Group 26.4 with four PC boats.
On 1 January 1944, Duane was underway escorting TAG-106. Three merchant vessels joined the convoy from Curacao escorted by an SC which escorted one of the convoy vessels back to that port. That evening six merchant vessels joined from Aruba escorted by two SCs, which later returned to Aruba. Early on the 4th another convoy, Trujillo-28, was diverted southward from the convoy’s path. Three merchant vessels were detached at 0730 and at 0810 a Guantanamo section of three vessels proceeded independently. Later a Navy destroyer and a British escort joined the convoy as did three merchant vessels escorted by a YMS. The convoy arrived at Guantanamo at 2249 on the 4th.
On 12 January 1944, Duane was en route independently to Norfolk where she moored on the 16th at the Norfolk Navy Yard. From 17 January to 6 March 1944, she was at the Norfolk Navy Yard undergoing conversion as an ACG, a combined operations-communications headquarters ship (her designation then changed to WAGC-6). Departing the Navy Yard on the 7th she underwent a series of tests and returned to the Yard on the 19th for a period of availability until the 28th when she moved to N.O.B. Norfolk until 3 April 1944.
She departed Norfolk on 3 April as a member of convoy UGS-38, which was escorted by Task Force 66. On the 18th she reported to the Commander, Eighth Amphibious Force, Mediterranean for duty. She was detached on the 20th and proceeded under escort to Algiers. The Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest African Waters, inspected her on the 22nd. She left Algiers on the 23rd for Naples, arriving there on the 25th and the next day RADM F. J. Lowry, Commander, Eighth Amphibious Force, Mediterranean shifted his flag to Duane from USS Biscayne (AGC-18). The Duane stood out of Naples on the 28th, escorted by Biscayne and USS Seer (AM-112) and after the 29th proceeded independently to Bizerte, Tunisia. She proceeded to Palermo, Sicily on May 5th and to Naples on the 9th, returning to Bizerte on the 20th. She departed Bizerte on the 11th. Between the 14th and 21st Duane made another trip to Palermo, Salerno, and Naples, where she remained until 29 July 1944. On the 30th MAJGEN John W. O’Daniels and his staff reported on board to take part in assault practice exercises on the 31st.
The Duane remained at Naples until 9 August 1944, when MAJGEN O’Daniels and his operational staff reported on board. That afternoon Duane got underway as guide to LCT convoy SS-1. She was in radio contact with the Island of Sardinia on the 10th and on the 11th, five British minesweepers proceeded ahead of the convoy to sweep Bonifacio Strait. On the 12th the convoy stood into Ajaccio, Corsica and anchored.
On the evening of the 13th of August, she stood out of Ajaccio as guide of the LCT convoy, with its commander and Commander, Task Force 84, embarked on board. Upon reaching point “AN” on the 14th she departed the LCT convoy SS-1 to join convoy SS-1B assuming duty as guide at 1325. On the 15th she was still underway as guide of LCT convoy SS-1B. At 0451 the order “STOP” was passed to the LCT convoy on the outer transport area of Red Beach where Duane now was and the cutter was released as guide. The Duane got underway at 0506 and at 0531 stopped engines and took station on Queen Red reference vessel.
At 0600 on August 13, 1944 naval. bombardment of shore targets commenced. Fighters were circling overhead and enemy aircraft were reported 10 miles northeast. At 0617 Wave No, 1 of assault craft departed and a minute later fire was observed in the LCT convoy, astern to port, either a burning vessel or barrage balloon on fire. This was followed by a loud explosion and a column of water east of the transport area. Then came a warning that friendly bombing missions were about to arrive at five minute intervals from the southeast. Meanwhile, Wave No. 2 of assault craft departed followed at ten minute intervals by waves No. 3 and No. 4.
The air bombardment of the beach began at 0700 with 26 medium bombers and Duane, with all assault craft proceeded from the outer to the inner transport area. A P-47 fighter was observed falling and crashed into the sea, bursting into flames. The pilot, descending by parachute, was picked up by a PC boat. At 0749 wave #1 was one mile from the beach.
Wave #1 landed on Yellow Beach at 0800 and seven minutes later LCTs were proceeding toward the beach. Fifteen minutes after that, the LCI wave departed, heading for the beach. This was followed by the DUKW wave and another LCT wave. Little resistance was reported from Red and Yellow beaches at 0903 and an hour later Alpha Red Beach reported satisfactory progress. Smoke blowing from the beaches reduced visibility. MAJGEN O’Daniels and part of the operational staff (HQ Co., 3rd Infantry Division) departed Duane in an LCVP at 1044. Two hours later a smoke screen was laid down west of the Duane to prevent attack on shipping by shore batteries, followed by another screen along the western edge of the Inner Red Transport Area.
The HMS Orion, lying east of Duane, commenced a shore bombardment at 1507, firing over Duane for 23 minutes until the gun emplacements ashore which were her targets were reported knocked out. At 1612 Duane got underway and proceeded to Baie de Cavalaire, anchoring there 35 minutes later. An alert was sounded as sixteen unidentified planes approached. LSTs were observed unable to beach directly on Red Beach and a pontoon causeway being used in one case. Fires were still burning or smoldering in the hills and frequent detonations were presumed to be demolitions by Navy units. At 2046 all ships in the vicinity began operating their smoke generators.
Next morning, 16 August 1944, Duane departed for another anchorage and that evening at 2100 all batteries on board fired at a plane identified as enemy. The smoke generator was put in operation and a boat was lowered overboard to make smoke with portable smoke pots, laying a screen ahead of the ship. On the 17th the Duane again anchored in Baie de Cavalaire. VADM Hewitt, Commander Eighth U. S. Fleet came aboard to visit RADM Lowry. The Duane made smoke as various alerts were given from the 18th to the 21st with shore and ship batteries frequently firing on unidentified planes.
On the 21st of August, shortly after midnight, a report was received that German “E” boats were in the outer Alpha area and that one might have gotten through. All ships were ordered darkened for the rest of the night. On the 25th Transport Division #3 stood into the anchorage, followed on the 30th by Transport Division #1 and #5, which departed that evening.
The Duane remained anchored in Baie de Cavalaire, France, until 10 September 1944, when she stood out, stopping at Ajaccio, Corsica several hours the next day. She morred at Naples on the 12th. She remained there until the 19th, made a nine-day round trip Bizerte, after returning to Naples on the 28th she remained there until 1 October 1944, and then proceeded to Baie de Cavalaire, Toulon and Marseilles, returning to Bizerte on the 8th of October and remaining there until the 24th. Leaving for Palermo on that date she returned to Bizerte on the 29th of October and remained there until the 13th of November. Departing Bizerte on the 14th she made stops at Naples and Palermo and returned on the 20th. Another trip to Naples and Palermo was begun on the 30th of November, returning to Bizerte on 5 December 1944.
The Duane was stationed at Bizerte until June, 1945, when she departed for Charleston, via Bermuda, arriving there on 10 July 1945. She then underwent a reconversion back to her peacetime configuration, including the removal of the majority of her armament. Her superstructure was cut back to her pre-war configuration as well, all in preparation for her to undertake what would become her primary peace-time task, as well as that of her sister 327s, that of operating on ocean-weather stations, a task established during World War II. 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. She then returned to her earlier classification WPG-33.
The full history of the ship has been provided at the link below, courtesy of the US Coast Guard: http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/Duane_WPG_33.asp