The Coast Guard At War
Transports and Escorts
Historical Section, Public Information Division
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
May 1, 1949
CGC McLane (WSC-146)
Commissioning and Characteristics
The CGC McLane (WSC-146) was built in 19276 at Camden, New Jersey, and commissioned on April 8, 1927, with her permanent station on July 1, 1941, at Morehead City, North Carolina. She had been fitted to service aids to navigation. Being 125 feet long, 23 feet 6 inch beam, and 9 feet maximum draft, she had a steel hull and displaced 220 tons. with a 400 HP diesel motor and twin screw propellers she attained a speed of 11 knots.
By December 7, 1941, she had been transferred to the 17th Naval District (*Alaska) where she was on patrol duty in Chatham Strait. She continued on this duty until February 16, 1942, assisting vessels, awaiting United States submarines off Tongass Harbor to escort them, and checking aids to navigation.
From February 17, 1942 the McLane proceeded to Seattle where she moored until June 6, 1942, awaiting generator repair parts and undergoing repairs.
Returning to Alaska, the McLane was patrolling Dixon Entrance, between Cape Chacon and Barren island on June 7, 1942, when a submarine was reported in Hidden Inlet and the McLane put on full speed to search the area. En route she was overtaken by RMCG Quatsino who joined in the search. They entered the Pearse Canal at 1709 with all guns manned and ready. later they contacted the CG-7275 and instructed him to search Pearse Canal to Wales Passage, while the McLane searched the Portland Canal and bays as far as Hattie Island. The results of the search were negative and the McLane returned to patrolling Dixon's Entrance for the rest of the week. A spectacular development was to follow.
McLane and YP-251 Search for Sub
During the week ending June 30, 1942, the McLane patrolled in the vicinity of Forrester's Island and Cape Muzon, identifying various vessels off Cape Addington and maintaining the Dixon Entrance Patrol. Canadian patrol planes were sighted frequently. On July 8, 1942, a radio message from NMJ stated that a submarine was bombed by a plane in grid "Vernon Nine" that afternoon and the YP-251 was underway at 0115 on search. She plotted the position of the bombing on the chart. to the northwest of this position was a spot with only 52 fathoms as against the 100 to 150 fathoms of the bombed area. it was logical to assume that if the submarine were damaged or suspected that search would be made for him, he would seek the nearest spot where he could lie on the ocean bottom, with his engines off, so as to evade detection. At 0645, the YP-251 arrived at "Vernon Nine" and the McLane came alongside for orders. The McLane was ordered to take station two miles distant and commence a search pattern working towards the north. A Canadian minesweeper joined the search, taking station two miles on the opposite beam, heading on the eastern leg of the pattern, Thus a search was evolved which seemed worth trying. The method was to make squares, steering, for example, four miles east, then four miles north, then four miles west; then six miles south, six miles east, etc., enlarging the square as they went along. The McLane was to stay two miles or son on the inside of the YP-251 on all courses, as she had a listening device. In this manner, they could always surround the original search area and should the submarine be on the inside of the YP-251, the YP's noisy engines would drive him to where the McLane could pick him up with her listening device. Should the submarine head out, they would catch him on their next circle. it was doubted if he would attempt to go very far as he had been below for some time already. At 0510 on July 9, 1942, the search was renewed with the McLane on the port beam heading for the shallow (52 fathom) search area. At 0850 the YP-251 noticed that the McLane was out of formation and acting strangely and the YP made for her position at full speed.
Attack on Sub -- Torpedo Seen
The strange behavior of the McLane was readily accounted for. At 0800, while cruising in 55°20' N, 134°41' W, northwest of Dixon's Entrance, she had made a JK (underwater sound) contact. She immediately put about and brought the contact ahead, decreasing speed to close in for the attack. The signal stopped at 0855 and a depth charge, dropped to explode at 300 feet, failed to explode. The contact was picked up again at 0905 and followed for an hour, the intermittent sound indicating that the sub was running at short intervals and zigzagging during the entire time. The McLane cruised in the vicinity until 1540 when the contact was again made. Putting about, the McLane followed this contact for 13 minutes when she dropped two depth charges. The first set at 250 feet and the second at 150 feet. Three minutes later two more depth charges, set at 200 and 300 feet respectively, were dropped 200 yards from the first contact. Eleven minutes later numerous air bubbles were sighted in the vicinity of these depth charges. At 1735, as the McLane closed astern of the YP-251, a torpedo passed under her bow. The commanding officer was standing in the bow and saw the torpedo coming, recognizing the yellow head and green body and hearing it hiss. It left a feather of 125 feet as it came toward the cutter.
Sub Is Sunk
The McLane went full speed ahead in the direction from which the torpedo had come and the YP-251 dropped one depth charge where the periscope had been sighted. At 1805 a smoke bomb that the YP-251 had dropped over the sub's position, about one mile north, was seen by the McLane, who proceeded to the position and dropped two more charges by the smoke bomb at 100 to 200 feet. The cutter remained in the vicinity, attempting to make JK contact, when a large oil slick came on the water and remained for about an hour. The McLane continued, widening the search of the area until 1935. At that time the YP-251 reported sighting a periscope and dropped one charge. The YP-251 turned right and about one third around and appeared to bump over some object as if going over a sand bar. The McLane again made contact and dropped two more charges set at 200 and 10 feet. There were no more contacts after that, only oil on the water and bubbles. The distance between the two contacts had been 500 yards. The McLane remained in the area until 0317 on the morning of July 10, 1942, attempting to get contact. In passing through the area, bubbles were constantly seen, and after the second depth charges had been dropped a considerable amount of hairy substance, resembling rock wool, was noticed. Air bubbles were seen for at least three hours and large amounts of oil. There was every possibility that the submarine attacked, and later verified as sunk, was the one that had been bombed the previous night by the Royal Canadian Air Force, stationed at Annette Island. The submarine was probably damaged at that time and was attempting to reach a safe harbor when it was seen by a fishing vessel, whose report brought the patrol vessels to the scene.
The question will naturally be asked "Why did the submarine not leave the area during those thirty hours?" The answer is believed to lie in the examination of the two charts of the area. The small scale chart *8002 shows a 52 fathom spot ten miles northwest of the position where the submarine was first bombed by the plane. This was the area concentrated on during the search. A larger chart #8152 discloses no such shallow spot and it may be assumed that the submarine was operating on chart #802 and was searching for the 52 fathom spot when contacted. This could account for his reluctance to leave the area during the thirty-six hour period.
The sinking of this Japanese submarine was confirmed by records uncovered after the war. it was the RO-32, and the sinking took place at 55°20'N, 134°40'W on July 9, 1942, according to the Navy Department release of June 27, 1946. The sinking is officially credited to the USCGC McLane, USS YP-251, and RCAF Air Corps. Lt. Ralph Burns, USCG, Commanding Officer of the McLane, was awarded the Legion of Merit.
On July 4, 1942, at 1745, while patrolling Dixon Entrance, the McLane sighted HMCS Belle Chasse who came up on her starboard bow with all guns manned and demanded an answer to her challenge by searchlight. For fifteen minutes the McLane endeavored to answer the challenge with blinkers, tube and flag hoist. The Belle Chasse passed astern, came hard about and attempted to cross the McLane's bow from port. The McLane was forced to stop her engines and come hard about to avoid collision. The Belle Chasse had not been able to read the blinker tube light and had her guns manned, ready to open fire. The need for a signal search light on each of our patrol vessels seemed to have been definitely demonstrated.
On July 20, 1942, the McLane reported a contact on 54°42'N 131°51'W. This occurred in broad daylight and the sound of the propellers was picked up in second gear. Three depth charges were dropped after which all contact was lost. The McLane continued to patrol the area in question. The evaluation was considered good.
On July 27, 1942, while patrolling Dixon's Entrance the McLane intercepted a message that the YP-251 was disabled and went to her assistance, towing her to McLeod Bay where she was turned over to YP-250. Five patrol planes had been sighted during this patrol During the week ending August 8, 1942, the patrol was continued between Port St. Albans and Warren Island, cruising to the south end of Sumner Strait in dense fog. She continued on patrol during the week ending August 15, 1942.
Moored at Ketchikan until August 20, 1942, the McLane got underway for Clarence Strait patrol, stopping off at Mary Island Light Station to land three seamen for duty there. Getting underway for Barren Island she patrolled between Tree Point and Barren Island, landing on seaman for duty at Tree Point Light Station and patrolling between Cape Chacon and West Rock and then the South Entrance to Clarence Strait until the 22nd. Proceeding to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, on that date she was drydocked for painting and repairs to propeller. On August 25, 1942, she was underway, standing out for Green Island on patrol, and then patrolling Dixon Entrance until August 29, 1942.
Patrol and Assistance
On September 8, 1942, the McLane, YP-401 and two Canadian corvettes were kept busy investigating reports of a submarine seen off Cape Decision. After bringing up oil by depth charging on the 12th and 13th, the oil was finally believed to come from a natural submarine oil well. On September 26th, the two vessels searched for a sub off Cape Spencer. Again on October 2, the two searched for a sub reported off Dixon's Entrance. During the week ending November 14, 1942, the McLane patrolled Cape Chacon, Clarence Strait, Cordova Bay Entrance, Hunter Bay and Dixon Entrance. On the 16th, she departed Ketchikan en route Shrubby Island to take the yacht Holiday, disabled there, in tow returning with her to Ketchikan the next day. Patrol between Cape Muzon and Cape Chacon was then resumed. During the week ending December 12, 1942, she patrolled Tongass Narrows, Dixon Entrance and Clarence Strait. On December 18, 1942, she was ordered to assist the SS Port Orford, aground off Keen Island in Wrangell Narrows. On the 19th she came alongside the vessel and, taking her hawser, began pulling, but after half an hour the towline parted. Being unable to float the vessel with the help of the tub Commodore, she proceeded to Petersburg and picked up two lighters and returned to the vessel, lightening her as she awaited favorable tide. At 1203 on the 20th, with the help of the CGC Alder, she was floated, but was steering poorly, her anchor being frozen in the hawser pipes. Accompanying the vessel to Petersburg, she hit and wrecked a beacon, but was finally moored at Petersburg. The McLane resumed patrol, but on the 23rd was again called to Chatham Strait to assist the Port Orford, reported aground once more, this time on Yasha Island. On the 24th she was sighted hard aground and on the 25th was reported upright, with after deck awash at high tide, while awaiting lighters for salvage. On the 25th the vessel began breaking up, in heavy NW swells as the barges arrived.
Search for Survivors of Lost Lockheed
The week ending January 3, 1943, was an active one. Planes and surface craft were searching all week for the lock Lockheed plane No. 10A #14915 owned by the Norrison Knudsen Construction Company. The plane had left Seattle without advising anyone of its destination and by evening a single message was received indicating that it was in distress somewhere in southeastern Alaska. An estimate of the situation was made and it was determined that the plane must be somewhere in an area within a 60 mile radius from Annette Island, probably on the eastern side. The sea search was in conjunction with the regular patrol duty and with vessels assigned to duty in connection with servicing aids to navigation. The first search by ship consisted of covering the inland waters and Dixon Entrance. The small craft were directed thoroughly to search the shore line, commencing with Hidden Inlet, and as far north as Ketchikan shores, Mary Island, Annette Island, Duke Island, Bold Island and both shores of Clarence Strait. Planes covered all of the territory as far south as Prince Rupert, British Columbia, the search continuing until the 19th. Beginning 25 January, the regular patrol planes again began thoroughly covering the east beam but did not locate any of the survivors.
Two Survivors Found
On February 3, 1943, the patrol boat CGR-232, while searching the shores of Boca de Quadia rescued two survivors. An overland search was arranged immediately. The two survivors were in fairly goo condition and were questioned regarding the location of the plane and the camp where the other survivors were. The search party of Coast Guard enlisted personnel and a number of the best woodsmen in the section, using the McLane as base craft, was sent to Smeaton Bay as aerial search was begun. The two survivors insisted on going along, against the Doctor's advice. One of them assisted in spotting the camp from the air and food and blankets were dropped. Then they returned to the McLane and the overland party started out. The body of Mr. Gillam was found three miles northeast of Quadia Point directly across from Orea Point by the Bureau of Fisheries patrol boat. On reaching camp, the plane had discovered one man alive. The search party searched until 2200 on the 4th and a daybreak on the 5th found they had missed the camp by 300 yards in the darkness. Two men were found alive and their needs attended to. Soon after arrival at the camp, the two survivors who had accompanied the search party became very ill and two enlisted men started back to the McLane with them, carrying them for about three miles. The plane, covered with snow, was not then visible from the air.
Survivors Brought Out Over New Trail
Planning the way out, it was found that ice on the rivers and lakes had melted and it would be necessary to make a new trial. After a number of flights it was decided to attempt the rescue via Badger Bay and a new group of men from the McLane, which had arrived meanwhile in Badger Bay, landed and started blazing a trail. With the arrival at camp of Territorial Guards and others over the new trail on the evening of the 6th, a sled was made for handling the wire basket containing one badly injured survivor while a toboggan carried the other. The finally arrived at the water's edge on Badger Bay at 1500 on the 7th. Here the McLane had broken the ice, making it possible for small boats to work into the beach and take the rescued on board. they were taken to Ketchikan that evening. On the 16th the party was reorganized and again proceeded to the scene of the wreck, where the body of Miss Betzer, who died in the crash, remained. her body was delivered to the local undertakers in Ketchikan next day, preparatory to shipment to her parents later.
McLane Resumes Patrol
The McLane, after the rescue of the two injured survivors on the 7th of February, 1943, proceeded around Mary Island on the 10th in Felice Strait, encountering heavy rain squalls and high winds. After patrolling the area, she broke ice in Kendrick Bay and on the 14th began cruising Dixon's Entrance. She had to seek shelter from a strong SE gale in Hunter Bay on the 15th. Dixon Entrance patrol was resumed amidst heavy weather on the 16th. on the 18th she proceeded to Kendrick Bay to pick up the logger Nicholus Kring and proceed with her to Ketchikan. On the 26th she resumed patrol of Clarence Strait-Dixon Entrance until March 6, 1943. On the return to Ketchikan on the 8th she proceeded to Free Point Light to help the Sebanus to a fish trap in Nakat Bay where she was secured to shore by mooring lines.
Survey Party Unable to Land
On March 12, 1943, the McLane transported a survey party of four men from Ketchikan to Forrester Island, but the party was unable to land there on the 13th due to heavy swells and sharp rocks. The McLane cruised in Dixon Entrance making other unsuccessful attempts to land the party, meanwhile patrolling Clarence Strait and Dixon Entrance until March 30, 1943, when she returned to Ketchikan.
Searches for Sub
On March 25, 1943, the McLane left Ketchikan to search for a sub reported at Hidden Inlet. She cruised in Dixon Entrance and up and down Pearse Canal on the 26th searching for the sub and on the 27th anchored in Nakat Harbor seeking shelter from a NW gale, after which she continued the patrol until April 3, 1943.
Returns to Seattle
After cruising from April 9 to 18, 1943, between Cape Muzon and Warren Island, between Dixon Entrance and Cape Decision and in Sumner and Clarence Straits, the McLane was underway for Seattle on the 21st to undergo overhaul. She arrived on the 25th and remained in repair status until June 10, 1943, when, carrying 25 enlisted men as passengers, she departed for Ketchikan, arriving on June 13, 1943.
Searches for Oil Slick
Departing Ketchikan June 18, 1943, she cruised in Sumner and Chatham Straits until the 24th when she changed course to investigate an oil slick in the North Pacific Ocean off Baranof Island. The search plan, which took into consideration the McLean's limited speed and the possible courses of the enemy submarine, consisted of a series of courses in the form of a parallelogram 4000 yards in width extending coastward. This plan enabled the McLane to "echo range" an area of slightly more than 250 square miles in less that 189 hours. She was relieved by the CG-95002 on the 26th, and after delivering mail at Cape Decision lighthouse and taking on a passenger and mail proceeded to Ketchikan on June 26, 1943.
(War diaries from June 27 to November 13, 1943, are not available).
On November 13, 1943, the McLane departed Ketchikan for Seattle, arriving on the 16th.
Returning to Alaska, the McLane on February 98, 1944, was en route Forrester Island with two men aboard for transportation. Landing on the island was impossible next day due to heavy swells and the men were not landed until the 11th, at the Coast Guard Observation Base on the island. Men were taken off for transportation to Ketchikan.
Locates Log Raft
On February 24, 1944, the McLane reassumed the Cape Decision patrol, landing mail at Lincoln Rock Light Station, Cape Pole, Edna Bay, Steamboat Bay and Waterfall, relighting Cape Flores Lighted Buoy and picking up mail at Forrester Island on the 26th. On the 27th, she proceeded to assist in the location of a lost tow in the vicinity of Peril Straits but had to take shelter at Tyee Cannery Dock on the 28th in a northerly gale. On the 29th, the lost log raft was sighted on the south shore of Cascade Bay. Owners asked aid in refloating the raft and after communicating with plane NC 18673, the plane departed to obtain a tug. The army tug LT-140 arrived later and took the raft in tow., as the McLane continued patrolling until March 5th, 1944.
Underway again on March 22, 1944, the McLane carried mail and stores for a number of light stations encountering heavy snow squalls on the 23rd at Waterfall and on the 24th near Forrester Island. On the 26th she made contact with her echo ranging gear at 56°18.17'N, 134°33.8'W. Sounding general quarters she dropped one depth charge. She regained the contact and dropped a four charge pattern at 0545. An hour later, being unable to regain contact she secured from general quarters. Later that day she escorted the SS Hamaqua through the contact area, turning her over to CGC Clover. returning to the area she resumed the search with four Navy planes arriving to assist for two hours. Ten minutes after they had departed the contact was reestablished but was lost 15 minutes later. At 1300 the Clover arrived and assisted in the search which continued throughout the day. At 2025 the YMS-333 stood in to assist. There were no new contacts. on the 27th a seaman developed acute appendicitis and the cutter proceeded to Petersburg at full speed, being intercepted near Laboucherse Bay where an Assistant Public Health Surgeon came aboard to examine the patient whose condition was not satisfactory for plane travel. After leaving the patient at Petersburg that evening, the cutter resumed patrol arriving at Ketchikan on March 31, 1944.
Leaving Ketchikan on April 6, 1944, the McLane proceeded to patrol Sumner Strait area carrying mail and stores for various Coast Guard stations in the area. On April 8, 1944, she began patrolling Chatham Straits, Davidson Inlet, Gulf of Esquibel, Cape Flores and Cape Muzon before returning to Ketchikan on the 31st. Resuming patrol on May 4, 1944, she relived YP-251, carrying mail and enlisted personnel for various light stations and for Edna Bay, Craig, Forrester Island and Waterfall, where she relit the Cape Flores buoy. She patrolled successfully Gulf of Equibell, St. Nichol's Channel, Cape Decision, Sumner Straits, Cordova Bay, Chatham Straits and Cape Ommaney, a total of 1224 miles and 169 hours, before being relieved by SC-998 and returning to Ketchikan on May 11, 1944.
The McLane departed Ketchikan on June 29, 1944, relieving the YP-251 on the North and South Outer Patrol After delivering mail and stores for Coast Guard stations she departed Ketchikan again on June 30, 1944, on patrol, proceeding to Edna Bay on the 1st to land her commanding officer who became ill and was transported to Ketchikan Coast Guard Hospital by Coast Guard plane. The patrol was continued including Chatham Straits, Sumner Straits and the area between Forrester and Dall Island, cape Ommaney and Iphigenia Bay, Cape Augustine to Cape Muzon, and Gulf of Esquibel, being relived of patrol by YP-251 on July 6, 1944, and returning to Ketchikan.
Samples of Sea Lion Meat
Departing again on patrol on July 13, 1944, she relieved the YP-251 of the north and south outer patrol, carrying mail, stores and personnel for Coast Guard Stations and patrolling Chatham Strait, Forrester Island to Cape Muzon and Cape Decision to Cape Ommaney. On July 16th she departed for Hazy Islands where she sent a boat and crew ashore with Mr. John Dassow to get samples of sea lion meat to be used for research purposes by the Fish and Wildlife Service laboratories. Proceeding to Craig she patrolled Bucarelli Bay, Iphigenia Bay and Cape Bartoleme, Forrester Island, Cape Muzon, before being relived of patrol by SC-998 on the 20th and returning to Ketchikan.
On July 27, 1944, the McLane relived the SC-998 of the North and South Outer Patrol carrying mail and stores for Coast Guard Stations and then patrolling the entrances to Chatham and Sumner Straits, the area east of Forrester Island, proceeded to Craig on August 2, 1944, to pick up mail for Ketchikan, returning there on August 3rd, 1944.
On September 17, 1944, the fishing vessel ARB-8 (Haynes) was aground at Dangerous River and party of three were stranded on the beach beyond their boat. The McLane, then temporarily at Juneau was dispatched to assist. Food and other necessary articles were dropped to the stranded party by civilian aircraft. The McLane's surfboat capsized with the stranded party aboard and all hands were rescued, but the surfboat was lost. On arrival at Yakutat one women was pronounced dead by an Army doctor and the McLane was directed by dispatch to return to Ketchikan with the other two survivors.
(Further War Diaries for 1944 are not available.)
During January 1945, the McLane did routine and uneventful patrol between Cape Ommaney and Yakutat, being relived of this patrol by the Aurora twice, for seven day periods, during this period. This patrol was resumed on February 8, and continued until the 20th when the McLane and Aurora were dispatched to search for a reported RFD bearing between Icy Point and Cape Cross, same being discontinued on the 23rd. During March 1945, the McLane patrolled 2070 miles in the above area without event, being relived twice on seven day periods by the Aurora. During April 1945, the McLane was on Cape Ommaney patrol from April 5, 1945, and was relived by the Aurora for a week on the 12th, before resuming the patrol for the rest of the month.
While on routine patrol in the Cape Ommaney-Ocean Cape area, the McLane was dispatched on May 19, 1945, toward the Dangerous River to assist the fishing vessel Success. The Success was sighted high and dry 23 miles north of Dangerous River on the 20th with no crew present and the McLane proceeded to Yakutat to contact the master of the vessel. On the 21st the cutter returned to the scene of the stranding with the master and crew of six attempting unsuccessfully to land in the surf. On the 22nd, the master and crew were taken overland to the scene by amphibious vessel and attempted to put a line ashore without success. On the 23rd, succeeded in putting a line ashore with the aid of balloons and as the Cyane arrived to assist, the McLane. commenced towing at slow speed. The hawser parted at 700 RPM, being frayed, it was believed, as the Cyane passed over it. On the 24th the towing hawser was located in the surf and secured to the Cyane who succeeded in floating the Success next day at high tide, and towed to Yakutat, where the McLane was relived of patrol by the Cyane and departed for Seattle, via Juneau and Ketchikan. She remained in Seattle until July 5th, when she proceeded to Ketchikan, arriving on the 7th.
Whale in Fish Trap
Proceeding on July 9-11, 1945, to a point 120 miles from Cape Decision and towed a drifting whistle buoy to Sitka. On the 22nd she took the CG-85004 in tow at Kasaan Bay and proceeded to Ketchikan. on the 25th she proceed to the vicinity of Tyee to assist in freeing a whale caught in a fish trap, but the whale freed itself prior to her arrival.
On August 23, 1945, the McLane proceeded to Petersburg with the District Salvage Crew and equipment to assist in freeing a buoy anchor chain from the propeller of the SS A.M. Baxter. A small boat, with four crew members from the Baxter, capsized as they attempted to board the McLane but were rescued and brought aboard. During slack water, the chain was removed from the Baxter's propeller and the McLane proceeded to Cape Decision, taking divers and diving equipment to Ward Cove to investigate the damage done the Baxter before returning to Ketchikan.
Searches for Plane
After making the trip to Loring, with a recreation party from Ketchikan Coast Guard Base, the McLane proceeded to Lincoln Rock Fog Signal to take aboard a Naval Reserve Lieutenant from the SS Lakina for transportation to Ketchikan, proceeding to Sitka with personnel and supplies on the 7th. On the 13th she proceeded to Clarence Straits in company with the Cyane to search for an Alaska Coastal Airway plane overdue at Ketchikan, but discontinued the search and returned to Ketchikan at 1654. On the 20th she assisted in calibrating the Direction Finder Station at Biorka Island.
Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey