The Coast Guard at War
Transports & Escorts
This edition is designed for service distribution and recipients are requested to forward corrections, criticisms, and comments to Commandant, Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C., Attention Historical Section, Public Information Division.
COAST GUARD MANNED TRANSPORTS AND ESCORTS
Part I Anti-Submarine War 1 Part II Ships' Histories 13 Appendix A Submarines Sunk by Month 192 Appendix B Shipping Losses by Month 195 Appendix C U.S. Coast Guard's Part in the HULA Program 197
996 ENEMY SUBMARINES SUNK IN WORLD WAR II
During World War II all allied sea and aircraft sank a combined total of 996 enemy submarines. These included 781 German U-boats, 130 Japanese and 85 Italian submarines. By far, the largest number were accounted for by British and European allied surface vessels who sent 323 submarines of the Axis to the bottom. Aircraft of the British Empire and its European allies took a toll of 233 enemy underwater attackers. The U.S. Navy sank 130 with its surface vessels and 96 with its airplanes. U.S. Army aircraft disposed of 63. The U.S. Coast Guard was responsible for 12 submarines which never rose again, 11 being sunk by Coast Guard cutters or Coast Guard manned Navy vessels, and one by a Coast Guard plane. The Coast Guard assisted in several other sub sinkings. 59 of the enemy subs were the victims of collision or some other type of marine disaster; 33 struck mines; and 47 disappeared without any definite proof of the cause of their demise. The year 1939 saw 9 enemy subs dive for "Davy Jones' locker;" in 1940 there were 42 that never returned to base; 56 were sunk in 1941; with our entrance into the war the 1942 total was 126 and this shot up to 285 in 1943 until a peak of 296 was reached in 1944. In eight and a half months of 1945, until VJ-day, the balance of 182 were disposed of. These sinkings were all confirmed from enemy records uncovered after the war.1
ESCORTS FOR OUR MERCHANT FLEET
Vice Admiral R. R. Waesche, Commandant of the Coast Guard, summed up the importance of the job of getting supplies to our allies as early as October 15, 1942, when he said: "If America and its allies are to win the devastating war now raging over the surface of the entire globe, the ships that carry food, the guns, the tanks, the planes and the other implements of war to our fighting forces on battlefields beyond the seas, must reach their destinations safely. We of the Coast Guard have dedicated every thing we have, including our lives, to the proposition that the American Merchant Marine, carrying needed supplies to the far-flung battlefields, shall not be too late with too little. Many of our units have been in contact with enemy submarines and planes and the history of this war will show the extent to which they have engaged the foe. Suffice to say at this time, we are proud of their accomplishments."
A STALKING GAME
Out in the Atlantic a strange stalking game went on. The submarine and the escorts of the convoys stalked each other, each unseen by the other during most of the hunt. They tracked each other by sounds registered on underwater echo ranging (SONAR) equipment, like enemies groping in the dark. Our merchant ships zigzagged to escape when an underwater warning came. The Coast Guard and other escort vessels would then swing into action making for the "contact" in order to give battle. Only when in position to attack would the submarine raise its periscope. Sighting its prey, the deadly missiles were fired. In less than 30 seconds the periscope would be lowered. Only for these few seconds would the enemies see each other. Sometimes a submerged submarine would follow a ship by means of underwater listening devices for hours, if not for days. An estimate could be made of the victims' speed as the device permitted the counting of the propeller turns. When the convoy changed course, the periscope would sometimes be momentarily raised so as to observe accurately the position of the cargo ships and their protecting escorts. Only then might they be seen by the escorts and depth charges dropped on their estimated positions after they had again submerged. The rest of the time our escorts depended entirely upon their echo ranging equipment to estimate the position of the submerged submarine on which they dropped depth charges. It was often impossible, therefore, to determine whether the submarine had been sunk or damaged. Day and night the game went on. Not until the enemy finally surrendered could our transports ever count on safety.
Until the Neutrality Law was amended on November 13, 1941, none of our 1,375 merchant ships had been armed. While armed British merchantmen had fought off the U-boats successfully in seventy attacks since the beginning of the war in Europe in 1939, and had shot down more than eighty planes, our merchant ships were still at the mercy of the foe. "Against unarmed ships" said one observer,2 "the submarine could lie in wait until the vessel came within gun range, and with a few shots from its deck gun send the helpless merchantman to the bottom. No submarine would dare risk such an attack if the merchant ship were able to shoot back. A submarine is a delicate and vulnerable ship. It cannot risk direct hits, even by a 3-incher. Against armed ships, the submarine must fight submerged, sometimes with not even the periscope showing. Handicapped in this way, the U-boats' aim is, of course, less effective. The submarine might have to fire several torpedoes and still not score a direct hit. When torpedoes are expended, the subs must then return to home port, and next to a submarine sunk, a submarine in its pen was best so far as American ships at sea were concerned."
By June, 1942, half the merchant ships in the lanes of the Atlantic were being given convoy protection. Destroyers, Coast Guard cutters, corvettes and armed trawlers of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Poland, Norway and the Netherlands were escorting ships of the United Nations on their perilous voyages to and from Europe. Despite this protection to shipping, generally only ten per cent of U.S. merchant tonnage of 1,000 gross tons or over, sunk in May 1942, was being convoyed. It was not until July that the percentage rose to 50%. Then it
COAST GUARD FLYERS ON CONVOY PATROL SCAN THE SEAS CONSTANTLY
FOR SIGNS OF AN ENEMY MARAUDER
A DEPTH CHARGE RAISES A GEISER OFF THE STERN OF A COAST GUARD-MANNED FRIGATE
gradually dropped to 20% in November 1942. During December 1942, none of the ships lost was being convoyed. Convoying returned to 52% In January 1943, rising as high as 80% in February of that year. This was the peak. From then until April 1944, the percentage remained above or near 50% except for four months. In June 1943 the percentage fell to 14%; in July 1943 to 28%; in November 1943, none of the ships lost was being convoyed; and in December 1943 only 2%3. While some fast transports, that could outrun any submarine, always travelled alone, and while air and surface escorts by no means meant absolute safety, it was not until December 1942 that sinkings showed any definite downward trend. The heavy toll of 89 enemy submarines sunk by British and European allied air and surface craft and other causes in the last half of 1942 undoubtedly accounted for much of this trend.4
THE WOLF PACK
"The German answer to the convoy was the wolf pack" says Karig.5 "A name so descriptive it needs no elaborating explanation." It was not until September 1942 that the total tonnage of our merchant vessels again reached the level of December 1941." This was because our ship losses were not fully compensated by new building despite every effort that could be put into that activity. From then on, however, our total merchant tonnage grew at the rate of half a million tons or more a month until May 1943 when the monthly increase climbed to nearly a million tons. This rate of increase continued until April 1944, with the exception of four months, October and November, 1943, and February and March, 1944, when it fell off. The turn in our favor of the anti-submarine warfare, however, was definitely September 1942. By April 1944 we had 18,701,370 gross tons of merchant shipping, or nearly three times the Pearl Harbor total. It was during September, October and November, 1943, that 30 destroyer escorts were manned by the Coast Guard and together with Navy small carriers and destroyers began to operate as a winning combination against the wolf pack in the Atlantic. These were supplemented during 1944 with 75 patrol frigates, which were used principally to maintain 22 ocean weather stations while keeping on the lookout for enemy submarines.
ATTACK BY AIR
In the last four months of 1942, British Empire and allied air squadrons sank 23 enemy submarines, bringing the total for the year to 31. During 1942, U.S. Navy air forces in the Atlantic had sunk 7, Army air forces 4 and Coast Guard airplanes 1.7 During 1943 the air patrols were extended over the Western Atlantic from Iceland to Brazil. There was also a base on Ascension Island, covering Northwestern Africa and the Western Mediterranean. The British were operating from the Azores, while joint Anglo-American patrols covered the remainder of the circle to Iceland. During 1943 British and allied European planes sank 86 enemy submarines, U.S. Navy air forces operating in the Atlantic accounted for 49 and the U.S. Army air forces sent ten to the bottom. New weapons and new methods of using old weapons were being devised and used. In April 1943 our merchant ship losses fell off sharply to 85,174 tons from 233,866 tons in March. They remained below 100,000 tons from then on except for the month of July 1943 when they reached 111,014 tons. Sinkings of submarines by British Empire and allied European air in 1943 were one eighth greater in the Atlantic than those by their surface vessels, while those sunk by U.S. naval air forces in the Atlantic were three times those by U.S. Navy surface vessels. The success of the radar-guided small carrier, destroyer and destroyer escort combination against the U-boat caused Hitler to reorganize his campaign. By April 1944 the U-boats were estimated to be sinking less than one half of one per cent of the ships being convoyed across the Atlantic and it was estimated that the life of an enemy submarine was only from one half to one third the time it took to build it. By April 1943 the number of enemy submarines sunk was definitely in excess of the U.S. merchant vessels lost and this continued to be true for each month from then onward to April 1944 with the exception of the month of December 1943.8 "The Germans fought hard against the reversing tide of success," says Karig.9 "Every new anti-submarine technique was met by some effort at countermeasure: Torpedoes that left no wake to be spotted by alert lookouts; magnetic torpedoes that converted near misses to bulls' eyes; some torpedoes, equipped with electric 'ears', that altered their course to follow and overtake the most agile of zigzagging ships. When the baby flat-tops finally spread the air umbrella over the middle Atlantic, and no submarine could surface anywhere between the Arctic and the Antarctic without fear of aerial bombing, the Germans installed anti-aircraft batteries on the U-boats. The subs remained on the surface to fight it out with the bombers and blimps, tactics which soon erased the lighter-than-air crafts' particularly useful ability to hover over a surfaced submarine and drop bombs on it. The American answer was the rocket gun." During 1944 British Empire and allied European airplanes sank 66 U-boats in the Atlantic by air, the American Naval air forces 18, and Army air forces 14. This combined total of 98 exceeds the 92 sunk in the Atlantic by allied surface vessels. Reports were heard of mutinies on the U-boats and the Germans were forced to draft men to go to sea in them. Right up to VE-day the air attack on the U-boats continued. For the first five months of 1945 the toll in the Atlantic by British Empire and allied European air was 41, U.S. Army aircraft sank 34 and U.S. Navy air accounted for 4, a total of 79 sunk in the Atlantic by air, as against 49 by surface vessels in that ocean.
THE COAST GUARD FLEET
When we entered the war on December 7, 1941, the Coast Guard, which had become part of the Navy on the preceding November 1st, had 168 vessels which bore names and were 100 feet or over in length, and 100 which were numbered and were 65 to 100 feet in length. It also had 39 lightships. During the war it acquired 156 more of the named class and 339 of the numbered class. The total fleet of Coast Guard vessels in operation during the war was therefore 802 vessels of 65 feet or over in length. Between December 7, 1941, the Coast Guard manned 351 Navy vessels, in addition to the above, and also 291 Army vessels. Altogether the Coast Guard fully manned 1,444 vessels in World War II. In addition it had 7,960 small boats under 65 feet in length, at the peak on January 1, 1943. By the end of 1943 it is estimated that 406 Coast Guard and Coast Guard manned vessels were actively engaged in
anti-submarine or escort duty. On that date 42,698 out of a total of 171,493 Coast Guard Regulars and Reserves were afloat. By June 30, 1945, 82,092 out of 171,192 were afloat, 49,283 on 288 Navy vessels, 6,851 on 262 Army vessels, and 25,958 on 802 Coast Guard vessels.
LENGTHS OF VESSELS
The 168 Coast Guard named vessels consisted of seven which were 327 feet long, four which were 240 feet long, twenty two which were 165 feet long, eleven which were of various lengths ranging from 155 to 225 feet, thirty three which measured 125 feet, one in the 100 foot class, thirteen tugs ranging from 88 to 110 feet long and 68 tender class vessels ranging from 72 to 274 feet in length.
"SECRETARY" CLASS CUTTERS
The largest vessels in the regular Coast Guard fleet are the 327 foot cutters, often called "flagships" or the "secretary" class, being named after former Secretaries of the Treasury. These ships, all launched in 1936 or 1937, represent the best of commercial and naval plans and construction with a view to the service intended, in which great size and speed are secondary to handiness in tight places, to reliability, and the ability to perform rescue operations and other tasks under adverse weather conditions. They were all 41 foot beam, 12 foot 6 inch draft with a displacement of 2216 tons and gross tonnage of 2141 tons. Their hulls were of steel and they had a speed of 20 knots. Their power was geared turbine, twin screw, and they developed 6,200 horse power using oil as fuel. They carry one seaplane and their normal complement is about two hundred men. In normal times they mount three 5 inch guns of 51 caliber, two quadruple machine gun anti-aircraft batteries, two 6 pounders and ten 3 inch anti-aircraft guns. Both guns and armor were increased for war service. Three of these, the Campbell, Ingham and Taney, were already on duty with the Navy before July 1, 1941. The others, the Bibb, Duane, Hamilton and Spencer, became eligible for transfer by agreement between the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Coast Guard under an Executive Order of September 11, 1941. The Taney was at Pearl Harbor on December, 1941, and the Hamilton was torpedoed off Iceland on January 30, 1942.
240 FOOT CLASS CUTTERS
The four cutters in the 240 foot class were the Tampa, Haida, Modoc and Mojave. They have a 39 foot beam, a 16 foot 6 inch draft, and displaced 1780 tons. Their turbine electric engines develop 2600 horse power. They carry a normal complement of 135 in the crew. They are designed for off shore rescue and law enforcement work, have a speed of 16 knots and were built in 1921. Their normal armament consisted of two 5 inch guns, two 3 inch anti-aircraft guns and two six pounders. The Modoc was on duty in Greenland with the Navy July 1, 1941.
165 FOOT CLASS CUTTERS
The 165 foot class of cutters were divided into two groups. The Algonquin, Comanche, Escanaba, Mohawk, Onondaga and Tahoma in Class A had a 36 foot beam, a 13 foot 7 inch maximum draft, a speed of 13 knots, and a displacement of 1005 tons. The sixteen in class B were the Argo, Ariadne, Atalanta, Aurora, Cyane, Daphne, Dione, Galatea, Hermes, Icarus, Nemesis, Nike, Pandora, Perseus, Thetis, and Triton. They had a 25 foot 3 inch beam, a 9 foot 6 inch draft, a speed of 16 knots and a displacement of 334 to 337 tons. They were built between 1931 and 1934 and were designed as patrol vessels. Their normal armament consisted of one 3 inch 23 caliber gun and two one-pounders. Six of them the Algonquin, Comanche, Galatea, Pandora, Thetis and Triton were on duty with the Navy on July 1, 1941.
MISCELLANEOUS CLASS CUTTERS
The eleven cutters of miscellaneous lengths included the Atlantic (185 ft.), Carrabasset, (155' 9¾"), Kickapoo (157' 4"), North Star (225'), Northland (216'), Ossepee (165' 10"), Pamlico (156'), Redwing (187'), Shawnee (158'), Tallapoosa (165' 10"), and Unalga (190'). Their ages varied from 38 years for the Atlantic, built in 1903, to nine years for the North Star, built in 1932. The North Star had a displacement of 2200 tons, while that of the Kickapoo was 840 tons. The Atlantic's gross tonnage was 303 tons. Their drafts varied from 5'8" for the Pamlico to 17'6" for the Carrabasset. The North Star was the only named cutter (except some of the tender class) with a wood hull. All others were of steel. The Northland had been designed to replace the famous Bear and was built for service In the Arctic. She had special features intended to offer resistance to the crushing action of ice and to permit maneuvering in ice fields. Diesel electric propelled, with a beam of 39 feet and a draft of 15 feet, she developed 1200 horse power and a speed of 11 knots. Her normal armament was two 3 inch 50 caliber guns, four .50 caliber anti-aircraft guns and six .30 caliber machine guns. Additional armament and protection had been provided for war service in the North Atlantic and Greenland, where with the North Star she had been on duty with the Navy since July 1, 1941.
125 FOOT CLASS CUTTERS
The thirty three diesel driven patrol cutters of the 125 foot class had been built in 1926 and 1927 to keep track of rum runners during the prohibition era. These all had a beam of 23½ feet and a draft of 9 feet and displaced 220 tons. With 600 horse power they made 13 or 14 knots. They were originally supplied with one 3 inch 23 caliber gun.
100 FOOT CLASS CUTTER
The only cutter in the 100 foot class was the Nansemond. With a 23 foot beam, 8 foot draft, and displacing 210 tons, she developed a speed of 11 knots with a 350 horse power, diesel, twin screw engine. She had been built in 1925 and was stationed at Philadelphia.
TUG CLASS CUTTER
The 13 cutters in the tug class, varied in beam from 17 feet 6 inches, to 26 feet 5 inches. Most of them were 110 feet long and had 10 foot 6 inch drafts with displacements from 149 to 328 tons. The Guthrie had an iron hull, all the rest being of steel and they made from 10 to 12 knots. One of them, the Raritan, waa on duty in Greenland, with the Navy on July 1, 1941.
TENDER CLASS CUTTERS
The 68 tender class cutters (72'-274') ranged in beam from 16 feet for the Alder to 65 feet for the Willow. They were all named for trees and shrubs and their duties were to service the aids to navigation which the Coast Guard had taken over from the Lighthouse Service of the Department of Commerce on July 1, 1939, along with the 39 lightships .
VESSELS ACQUIRED DURING WORLD WAR II
The 156 named vessels acquired during World War II included 60 Lighthouse Tenders (WAGL), 40 Patrol Vessels (WIP), 10 Gunboats or Corvettes (WPG), 10 Harbor Tugs (WTT and YTL), 8 Auxiliaries, Miscellaneous (WAG), 7 Miscellaneous (WDC), 6 Coastal Yachts (WPYC), 5 Submarine Chasers (WPC), 2 Cargo Ships (WAK), 1 Yacht (WPY), 1 Reserve Boat, 1 Coast Guard Reserve, and 1 Special. They were of various lengths and ages and were acquired either by the Coast Guard direct by purchase or by the Navy who turned them over to the Coast Guard. They were assigned generally to the duties indicated by their type. Brief War Histories of all Coast Guard Vessels where available appear in Part II.
COAST GUARD MANNED NAVY VESSELS
The Navy vessels which the Coast Guard manned during the war included 22 Transports (AP), 9 Auxiliary Transports (APA), 15 Cargo Ships (AK), 5 Auxiliary Cargo Attack Ships (AKA), 18 Gasoline Tankers (AGO), 28 Landing Craft, Infantry (LCI)(L), 76 Landing Ships, Tanks (LST), 30 Destroyer Escorts (DE), 75 Patrol Frigates (PF), 40 Patrol Vessels (YP), 8 Gunboats or Corvettes (PG), 6 Submarine Chasers (SC), 4 Submarine Chasers (PC), 1 Coastal Yacht (PYC), 1 Ferryboat and Launch (YFB), 1 Ambulance Boat (YHB), 1 Gate Vessel (TNG), 1 Range Tender (YF), 1 Motor Torpedo Boat Tender (AGP), 1 Submarine Chaser (WPC), 1 Auxiliary, Misc. (WAG), and 7 Miscellaneous, Unclassified (IX), a total of 351.
TROOP TRANSPORTS AP (LARGE)
In accordance with various directives from the Navy, the Coast Guard had been assigned by December 31, 1944 a total of eleven (11) large "P2", twin screw troop transports. They were over 600 feet in length and were built by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Kearney, N. J., the Bethlehem-Alameda Shipyard of Alameda, Cal., and the Kaiser Co. Inc., of Richmond, California. Personnel for these ships received special training at the respective assembling locales. The names, class and number, and dates of commissioning were as follows:
|USS Gen. Wm. Mitchell||AP||114||1-20-44|
|USS Gen. Geo. M. Randall||AP||115||4-14-44|
|USS Gen. M. C. Meigs||AP||116||6-3-44|
|USS Gen. W. H. Gordon||AP||117||7-27-44|
|USS Gen. W. P. Richardson||AP||118||11-2-44|
|USS Gen. Wm. Weigel||AP||119||1-6-45|
|USS Adm. W. C. Capps||AP||121||9-18-44|
|USS Adm. E. W. Eberle||AP||123||1-24-45|
|USS Adm. C. F. Hughes||AP||124||1-31-45|
|USS Adm. H. T. Mayo||AP||125||4-24-45|
|USS Gen. J.C. Breckenridge||AP||176||6-30-45|
TROOP TRANSPORTS AP (SMALL)
There were nine of this "C4" type vessels assigned to the Coast Guard for manning and operation. They were single screw troop transports, 522 feet in length and were built and converted on the West Coast. The names, class and number, and dates of commissioning were as follows:
|USS Gen. R. L. Howze||AP||134||2-7-44|
|USS Gen. W. M. Black||AP||135||2-24-44|
|USS Gen. H. L. Scott||AP||136||4-3-44|
|USS Gen. A. W. Greely||AP||141||3-22-45|
|USS Gen. C. H. Muir||AP||142||4-12-4S|
|USS Gen. H. B. Freeman||AP||143||4-26-45|
|USS Gen. H. F. Hodges||AP||144||4-6-45|
|USS Gen. A. W. Brewster||AP||155||4-23-45|
|USS Gen. D. E. Aultman||AP||156||4-20-45|
USS WAKEFIELD AT SINGAPORE
The USS Wakefield (AP-21) another Coast Guard manned transport had been commissioned at Brooklyn on 15 June, 1941. She had been previously the luxury liner SS Manhattan. Her personnel had been trained in the vicinity of New River Inlet, N.C., and at Hampton Roads, Va., where she was attached to Transport Division 19, Training Squadron 3, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. On 3 November, 1941 she sailed from Brooklyn and seven days later called at Halifax, N.S. where she embarked about 6,000 British troops for Singapore. There they were disembarked on 29 January, 1942. While tied alongside the docks at Kepple Harbor, Singapore, awaiting the arrival of some 400 women and children, all of whom were British evacuees, the Wakefield was attacked by a flight of approximately 30 Japanese bombers who dropped their bombs from about 20,000 feet. One bomb penetrated the deck of the Wakefield, forward on the starboard side, exploding seconds later in the sick bay, killing five men and wounding about 15 others. The Wakefield took aboard 401 evacuees and departed Singapore on 30 January, 1941 arriving at Bombay on 10 February, 1942. Five days later Singapore surrendered. She sailed from Bombay on 20 February, 1942 with 508 passengers via Capetown for Brooklyn where she arrived on 23 March, 1942. Between 20 May, 1942 and 11 July, 1942 the Wakefield made a round trip to Wellington, N.Z., carrying 5,268 Marines for service in the Southwest Pacific.
FIRE AT SEA
Early in August, 1942 she left New York for the British Isles in convoy, landing the largest number of troops ever to be transported across the Atlantic in a single operation up to that time. On her homeward voyage, carrying 840 passengers and a crew of 750, a fire of unknown origin broke out on C deck on the evening of 3 September, 1942. In ten minutes it had spread throughout the vessel. Escorting ships came alongside and disembarked the passengers when it became apparent that the flames could not be brought under control Two hours later the crew were removed. On the night of 9 September, Commander Bradbury boarded the still burning Wakefield with a fire-fighting party, but had to abandon ship in face of the intense and savage fire. The conflagration raged until special fire-fighting equipment reached the vessel and the charred and smouldering transport was then towed to. Halifax. The last embers were not extinguished until the 12th. Meanwhile torrents of rain from a cloud burst poured into her open interior causing her to list badly and holes had to be cut in her side to permit the water to escape. Towed to Boston Navy Yard on the 29th, it became necessary to strip the vessel to her waterline, which meant reconstructing the former luxury liner into a virtually new ship. The Government declared her "a constructive total loss" and purchased the remains from the U.S. Lines.
THE NEW WAKEFIELD
On 10 February, 1944 the new Wakefield was commissioned. After making 22 round trips across the Atlantic between
13 April, 1944 and December 1, 1945 she sailed for Taku, China on 4 December. 1945 and returned to San Diego on 1 February, 1946. On 15 June, 1946 her Coast Guard crew was removed. Since recommissioning she had transported 110,563 troops to Europe and Asia and 104,674 passengers to America, a total of 215,237. As she had carried 16,082 in 1942 this made a total of 233,319 persons transported during the war.
USS MONTICELLO, FORMER ITALIAN LUXURY LINER
Another Coast Guard manned troop transport was the USS Monticello. Launched in 1927 as the SS Conte Grande she was built for the North Atlantic tourist traffic by the Lloyd Sabaudo of Genoa, Italy. She was transferred to Brazilian registry on 27 February, 1942 and on 10 March, 1942 was manned with the first group of U.S. Navy personnel. She was commissioned in the U.S. Navy on 16 April, 1942 as the USS Monticello (AF-61) at Santos, Brazil. She was first manned by Coast Guardsmen on 21 July, 1945 and from 25 July to 2 October, 1945 remained at Todd's Shipyards, Erie Basin, Brooklyn, N.Y., undergoing extensive repairs, during the course of which, with the surrender of Japan, all armament was removed from the ship. After returning 176 Italian Army officers and 5,590 Italian enlisted men to Italy in October, 1945 the Monticcello's Coast Guard crew was removed on 22 March, 1946. Brief war histories of other vessels in these classes are included in Part II.
TROOP TRANSPORTS, ATTACK (APA)
The Coast Guard was directed to man nine of these vessels. The first was manned on 6 June, 1941 and the last on 20 November, 1943. In September 1943, the Cambria, Bayfield and Cavalier were designated as Relief AGC (general headquarters communications command) in addition to their designations as APA. This necessitated some conversion work which delayed commissioning of two of them until November 1943 and one until January 1944. The first five of these vessels were converted from passsnger liners (one being an army transport) and commissioned in 1941 and 1942. The last four commissioned in 1943 and 1944 were built at the Atlantic Basin and Iron Works, New York, N.Y., Todd, Hoboken, N.J., and Bethlehem Steel, Hoboken, N.J. Two had already been given other names before commissioning. The names, class and numbers, and date of commissioning was as follows:
|USS Leonard Wood
|USS Joseph T. Dickman
|USS Hunter Liggett
|USS Arthur Middleton
|USS Samuel Chase
The first three had been built in 1921, the next two in 1942 and the last four in 1943. Some of them took part in all the various landing operations. These began with Guadalcanal, continued in Alaska, in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France, and ended with the landings from Tarawa to Tokyo in the Pacific. The Callaway was hit by a Japanese suicide plane en route to the Lingayen Gulf landing, Philippine Islands on January 8, 1945. Several of the crew were killed and in the resulting fire there were nearly 50 casualties. On the 30th of January, 1945 the Cavalier was torpedoed off Subic Bay, Philippines, but did not sink and was towed to Leyte. Details of these and other events are contained in the Coast Guard's historical monographs Coast Guard at War--Introduction--I, Coast Guard at War--Alaska--III, Coast Guard at War--Pacific Landings--VI, Coast Guard at War--North African Landings--IX, Coast Guard at War--Sicily-Italy Landings--X, and Coast Guard at War--Landings in France--XI. Brief war histories where available are included in Part II.
CARGO VESSELS (AK)
Although the Coast Guard had originally been assigned 10 of this type vessel, due to a change in Navy organization, we manned only one, the AK-80 Enceladus. In addition the Coast Guard manned 14 Liberty Ships (AKs) which are 441 feet length over all. The names, class and number, and date of Coast Guard commissioning of these vessels are as follows:
Many of these cargo ships participated in the various landings in the European and Pacific theaters and are mentioned in the Coast Guard at War monographs listed above. The ammunition loaded USS Serpens (AK-97) exploded, cause undetermined, at Guadalcanal on 29 January, 1945, killing thirteen officers and 193 crewmen. Only 2 officers and 8 of the crew members survived, they being ashore at the time. (See Coast Guard at War--Pacific Landings--VI, p. 171). The USS Etamin (AK-93) was attacked by Japanese planes while anchored in Aitape Roads, New Guinea, on April 27, 1944. The resulting fire was brought under control and the vessel was towed to Finschhaven. Three seriously wounded Coast Guard personnel were flown to Port Moresby. The vessel was subsequently reconditioned and saw further service. The USS Menkar (AK-123) was assigned for utilisation in Loran installation operations in the Pacific (see Coast Guard ar War--Loran--IV--Vol II). Brief war histories of others where available are included in Part II.
CARGO SHIPS ATTACK (AKA)
Trained personnel was assigned to five (5) of these "attack" class cargo vessels, including the landing boat crews for each. These ships are the large "C2" type
and carried tank lighters and troop craft. They were built by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Kearney, N.J. Their names, class and number, and date they were Coast Guard commissioned are as follows:
All of these vessels participated in landings, either in the European or Pacific theaters of war and are mentioned in the Coast Guard at War monographs covering the various landings. Brief war histories, where available are included in Part II.
Eighteen (18) of these auxiliary gasoline-oil tankers were allocated by the Navy to the Coast Guard for manning between 18 May, 1944 and 1 September, 1945. Personnel received special training at Navy SCTC, Miami and Coast Guard Yard. The first fourteen commissioned were built by the East Coast Shipbuilding Company, Bayonne, N.J., and last four by the St. Johns River Shipbuilding Corporation, Jacksonville, Florida. Eight others were designated to be Coast Guard manned but the war ended--low priorities and production failures causing delays in expected delivery dates--before they were completed. The names, class and number, and date commissioned are as follows:
|USS USS Kalamazoo||AOG||30||10-16-44|
|USS USS Kanawha||AOG||31||11-23-44|
|USS USS Naracaugas||AOG||32||12-2-44|
|USS USS Ochlockonee||AOG||33||12-29-44|
|USS USS Oconee||AOG||34||1-12-45|
|USS USS Ogeechee||AOG||35||9-6-44|
|USS USS Ontonagon||AOG||36||9-12-44|
|USS USS Klickitat||AOG||64||7-14-44|
|USS USS Michigamme||AOG||65||8-10-45|
|USS USS Nauticoke||AOG||66||9-1-45|
|USS USS Peconic||AOG||68||1-11-45|
One of these, the USS Sheepscot (AOG-24), was lost in a hurricane off Iwo Jima on June 6, 1945 (see Coast Guard at War--Lost Cutters--VIII). Brief war histories of each, where available, are included in Part II.
LANDING CRAFT, INFANTRY, LARGE) LCI(L)
As a result of conferences with the office of the Vice Chief of Naval Operation, the Coast Guard was directed on 14 January, 1943, to man a certain number of vessels of the Landing Craft Infantry (Large), (LCI(L)) type. It became necessary, therefore, to handle the program efficiently and expeditiously and a Manning Section of the Personnel Division at Headquarters was organized for the purpose of centralizing all data and performing the necessary liaison work. On the above date, a "bob-tail" Flotilla of LCI(L)s was assigned to the Coast Guard for manning and staffing. This involved originally the manning of twenty four (24) vessels, together with a Flotilla Staff and two Group Staffs, requiring the original assignment of eighty four (84) officers and six hundred and sixty one (661) men. Later four more of these vessels were manned in January, 1945. These ships were built at Orange and Houston, Texas, where they were manned by Coast Guard personnel upon commissioning. They were established by the Navy as Flotilla U, Groups 10 and 11 (later changed to Flotilla 10, Groups 29 and 30) under the 11th PHIB (Amphibian Command) and were assigned to CINCLANT (Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet) on 8 February, 1943. This Flotilla, under command of Captain Miles Imlay, USCG, distinguished itself in various Mediterranean theater operations and in the invasions of France. An account of their operations is contained in Coast Guard at War--Sicily-Italy Landings--X and "Coast Guard at War--Landings in France--XI". They then returned to the U.S. for yard availability, fleet reassignment and remanning and were assigned to the Pacific as Flotilla 35, Groups 103 and 104. Here their operations are described in Coast Guard at War--Pacific Landings--VI. Four of them were sunk during the Normandy invasion on June 5 and 6, 1944 (See Coast Guard at War--Lost Cutters--VIII. Brief war histories of each where available are included in Part II. Their names and dates of commissioning follow:
LANDING SHIP, TANK (LST)
In January 1943, the Coast Guard agreed to man a Flotilla of Landing Ships, Tank (LSTs) consisting of 36 ships, and an additional "bob-tail" formation of 25 ships. Due to unforssen changes in the construction programs, as well as needs of the fleets, we finally manned a total of 37 LSTs in 1943. These ships were not assigned to one flotilla, but were dispersed among various Navy Command Flotillas and consequently reported for duty in many different theaters of operation. Their perfommances are described in the various Coast Guard at War monographs covering landing operations in Sicily, Italy, France and the Pacific. In March 1944 the Coast Guard was called upon to man LST Flotilla 29 (Groups 85, 86, and 87) consisting of 36 vessels complete with all staff personnel. Finally in June 1945 three more vessels of this type were manned, making a total of 76 manned altogether during the war. In accordance with Navy policies, all personnel for Flotilla 29 were processed during a ten week's course at ComPhibTraLant's (Commander, Amphibian Training Squadron, Atlantic) special Amphibious Training School at Camp Bradford, Virginia. Captain C. H. Peterson, USCG, was assigned as Flotilla Commander. As teams completed training, they were ordered to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the LSTs for this Flotilla were built at the Dravo Corporation's plant and that of the American Bridge Company. The ships were then ferried to New Orleans, where, after a five day
outfitting period, they were placed in commission, and reported to the Amphibious Training Base, Panama City, Florida, for shakedown. The names and dates of commissioning of all LSTs in operation during the war are as follows:
|LST 16||3-17-43||LST 166||1-22-43|
|LST 758||8-19-44||LST 787||9-13-44|
Three of these LSTs manned by Coast Guard personnel were lost during the war, one (LST 69) burned and exploded at Pearl Harbor on May 21, 1944; one (LST 167) was damaged by enemy planes at Vella La Vella on September 25, 1943; and one (LST 203) stranded on Nanomea Island, Southwest Pacific on October 1, 1943. Another (LST 767) was so badly damaged by a hurricane at Okinawa on March 9, 1946, that she had to be decommissioned. Fuller details of these losses are given in "Coast Guard at War--Lost Cutters--VIII." Brief war histories of individual LSTs, where available, are included in Part II.
DESTROYER ESCORTS (DE)
Upon receipt of a directive from the Chief of Naval Operations in June 1943, immediate steps were taken to assemble officers and crews for 30 Destroyer Escorts to be manned by the Coast Guard. A training program was established and personnel started flowing through the schools at St. Augustine, the Submarine Training Centers at Miami, Florida and Norfolk, Virginia, where they received special DE training. The ships were built in two shipyards in Texas, The Consolidated Shipbuilding Company at Orange, and The Brown Shipbuilding Company at Houston. These ships had a full load displacement of 1600 tons; length 305' 7", beam 36' 7", draft 10' 6", speed 20 Knots; powered by four diesel engines of 1700 horse power each; Complement: 10 officers, 13 chief petty officers, 163 crew, a total of 186. They were assigned to five Escort Divisions of 6 ships each. They were allocated as follows:
Escort Division 22--Poole, Peterson, Harveson, Joyce, Kirkpatrick, Leopold.
Escort Division 20--Marchand, Hurst, Camp, Crow, Pettie, Ricketts.
Escort Division 23--Sellstrom, Ramsden, Mills, Rhodes, Richey, Savage.
Escort Division 46--Menges, Mosley, Newell, Pride, Falgout, Lowe.
Escort Division 45--Vance, Lansing, Durant, Calcaterra, Chambers, Morrill.
By November, 1943 all 30 of the Destroyer Escorts had been manned, commissioned and were performing their shakedown training. Their names, class and number, and date of maiming are as follows:
|NAME||CLASS & NUMBER||MANNED|
|Howard D. Crow||DE-252||9-27-43|
These Destroyer Escorts, under DesLant, have seen much action while performing arduous convoy duty in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. They were a product of World War II and their agile maneuverability, accurate fire power and specially designed antisubmarine weapons together with the courage of their officers and crews, helped preserve the lifeline of
BELOW IS THE DECK OF THE COAST GUARD DESTROYER ESCORT MENGES AND STRETCHING BACK IS THE ZIGZAG OF THE INTREPID FIGHTING CRAFT AS IT CARRIES ON ITS DUTY OF SAFEGUARDING A CONVOY
COAST GUARD CRAFT ESCORTS A CONVOY
men and supplies which streamed across the Atlantic to crush the Axis might. One of these Coast Guard manned destroyer escorts, the Leopold (DE-319) was torpedoed and later sank in the North Atlantic, 400 miles south of Iceland on March 9, 1944, with a loss of 13 officers and 158 men. A full account of this disaster is contained in Coast Guard at War--Lost Cutters--VIII. Individual war histories of each Coast Guard manned destroyer escort, where available, are contained in Part II.
PATROL FRIGATES (PF)
The crewing of the Patrol Frigates proved the most complex of the various manning projects because they constituted the largest number of units, required the greatest percentage of personnel, necessitated the utilization and promulgation of training facilities, as well as a wide geographic diversity of shipbuilding yards. The Coast Guard was originally committed to man 69 Frigates. This was subsequently increased to 79 and by cancellation of the building contracts of 4 ships, finally settled at 75. Two yards on the West Coast built 30, 6 yards on the Great Lakes were assigned the building of the remaining 45. Due to the scope of this phase of the manning program, it became necessary to establish certain receiving units, training facilities, Coast Guard manning details, and assign officers to focal Navy training bases and PreComDets. At the Coast Guard Training Station, St. Augustine, Fla., a course known as AOTS (Advanced Officers Training School) was inaugurated to prepare Coast Guard officers for the intense curriculum at Submarine Chaser Training Center, Miami, Fla. It was realized that the Great Lakes-built vessels would present the most difficult problems and require the greatest attention and coordination. Many problems in personnel assemblage and training schedules for the manning of these Great Lakes-built Frigates arose because of the wide fluctuation in progress of construction and ramifications of outfitting. Coast Guard programs had to be continually reorganized to meet Navy requirements, expected ship commissionings, and training facilities. Flexibility was, therefore, mandatory. New Orleans, it was soon evident, was to become the focal point for these Great Lakes-built Frigates, as they were towed there by the maritime authority and there delivered to the Navy. At this point the lengthy ordeal of completion of construction started, including the installation of numerous Navy class items before the ship could be commissioned. It was necessary for the Coast Guard to establish a direct Headquarters representative at New Orleans, known as Coast Guard Representative, ComDet, Algiers, Louisiana, as well as Sub-ComDets at other yards in the Gulf Area. This work was further complicated when the Coast Guard was directed to furnish Nucleus Crews, composed of 7 officers and 53 men, from PF teams, for the purpose of moving the frigates from the Great Lakes yards to the various yards in the Gulf Area and East Coast. This required the establishment of yet another manning office for the Great Lakes area at Chicago, which was the focal point for this operation. The delivery of most of these frigates was delayed over a year, adding to the problems of the manning office, which maintained constant liaison and pertinent records with every phase of the frigate program, from their construction, through various stages of shakedown, to their actual reporting to the fleets for operational service. The principal duty of the PF's was in maintaining weather stations in the Atlantic and Pacific. The ocean weather station program had begun in 1940. It was made a joint Weather Bureau-Coast Guard operation, with the Coast Guard providing the ships and communications facilities and the Weather Bureau providing the observers and the special instruments and equipment required. At first, two of these stations were maintained on the great circle course between Bermuda and the Azores. During the summer of 1942, two plane guard, or flight security, stations were established in addition, one between Labrador and Greenland and one between Greenland and Iceland. On February 20, 1944, the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet directed that two additional stations be established. Two more were established in May 1944 and, in order to adequately man all stations, several naval vessels of the Atlantic Fleet were used temporarily until the commissioning of patrol frigates (PF's) for this duty. Eight more weather stations were established on October 21, 1944, including two plane guard stations. After VE-day, in order to safeguard the tremendous increase in air traffic involved in the redeployment of allied air forces, six more stations were established making a total of 22 stations in the Atlantic by July 1, 1945, 15 being manned by the Coast Guard with 23 patrol frigates. It was not until April 15, 1946 that the Coast Guard entered the picture as an operating agency for weather stations in the Pacific. On that date operational control of five stations east of Hawaii passed to the Coast Guard, utilizing 21 patrol frigates. Brief war histories, where available,are included in Part II. The names, class and number, and date of commissioning of PF's by the Coast Guard follow:
|NAME||CLASS & NUMBER||COMMISSIONED|
|NAME||CLASS & NUMBER||COMMISSIONED|
PATROL VESSELS (YP)
"On June 17, 1942" says Karig10 "Admiral King notified the commands of the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers (Admirals Andrews and Kauffman) that all civilian craft capable of remaining at sea at cruising speeds for forty-eight hours, and preferably of carrying four 300-pound depth charges and a 50 caliber machine gun were to be acquired. The response from civilian owners was immediate, and frequently crews went with the boats, all incorporated into the Coast Guard reserve together. Owners may have winced as they watched hand-rubbed mahogany, scoured teak and gleaming bright-work disappear under thick gray paint, but they themselves, as often as not, put on the uniform of a chief boatswain's mate and traded a luxurious office for the heaving deck of a YP. This splinter fleet was organized as a picket line spaced along the 50-fathom curve of the Atlantic and Gulf coats, particularly in those areas where submarines were found to be concentrated, and there they served as floating sentries until the converted fleet was given its honorable discharge in December, 1914." The first of these patrol vessels was manned by the Coast Guard on 14 December, 1941; the last on August, 1944. Brief war histories, where available, are included in Part II. The names and dates of commissioning are as follows:
GUNBOATS (CORVETTES) (FG)
In March 1943, officers and nucleus crews for two corvettes (Canadian) assigned to the Coast Guard were sent to Quebec for precommissioning detail. In June, the Coast Guard upon assignment by the Navy, furnished personnel for the complete manning of six additional corvettes. Altogether 850 Coast Guard personnel were furnished for these eight corvettes. The corvettes names, class and number, and dates of commissioning were:
|NAME||CLASS & NUMBER||COMMISSIONED|
The following account of the sinking of a submarine by a corvette is typical of the work of these vessels during the war.11 "Unexpectedly, the U-boat surfaced about two miles ahead of us. I don't know why she came up. Perhaps we had kept her down too long, or she thought she would try her luck at a shooting match, or she may even not have heard us; but we didn't waste time with speculations just then. Our first shot fell short, our second was dead in line, but over, and our third plowed the water just where she had crash-dived again. We dropped a pattern of depth charges for luck, on her estimated diving position, and then began a proper sweep. We picked her up almost immediately and ran in and dropped another pattern; this brought up some oil. Out on a wide turn, and in again; once more the charges went over the side; once more, after a pause, there came that series of splitting crashes from below which told us they had well and truly done their stuff. Another run and still another in the afterpart was a scene of vast activity--firing, reloading, priming, setting; then the awaited signal from the bridge, and down went the charges and presently the surface of the sea jumped and boiled, and the torpedoman rubbed his hands and called out happily 'Next for shaving!' xxxxxxxx One more run, one more series of thunderous cracks, and then the sea, spouting, boiling, threw up what we were waiting for--oil in a spreading stain, bits of wreckage, woodwork, clothing, scraps of humanity ... Contact failed after that, and though we waited until dusk nothing else worth collecting made its appearance. We had enough in any case." Brief war histories, where available, are included in Part II.
SUBMARINE CHASERS (SC) (PC)
During the war the Coast Guard manned ten Submarine Chasers (6 SC and 4 PC). One of these, PC-590, grounded and sank in a typhoon off Okinawa on October 9, 1945. An account of this appears in Coast Guard at War--Lost Cutters--VIII. Brief war histories, where available are included in Part II. Names and dates of commissioning are as follows:
MISCELLANEOUS NAVY CRAFT
The remaining fifteen vessels manned for the Navy by the Coast Guard during the war were used for a variety of purposes. Their names, class and number, type, and dates of commissioning are as follows:
|NAME||CLASS & NUMBER||TYPE||COMMISSIONED|
|Big Horn||IX-207||Misc. unclassified||1-7-44|
|Sea Cloud||IX-99||Misc. unclassified||4-4-42|
|YFB-30||Ferry Boat & Launch||3-24-42|
One of these, the Muskeget disappeared without trace while on weather station off Cape Belle Isle on September 9, 1942. For further details see Coast Guard at War--Lost Cutters--VIII. Brief war histories of others, where available, are included in Part II.
Part II (Ship's Histories)