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Treasury-class cutter
Class overview
Name: Treasury-class cutter
Operators: United States Coast Guard
Completed: 7
Cancelled: 3
Lost: 1
Preserved: 2
General characteristics
Type: Cutter
Displacement: 2,216 long tons (2,252 t; 2,482 short tons)
Length: 327 ft (99.67 m) o/a
Beam: 41 ft (12.50 m)
Draught: 12.5 ft (3.81 m)
Propulsion: 2 x oil-fueled Babcock & Wilcox boilers
Westinghouse geared turbines
2 shafts
6,200 ihp (4,600 kW)
Speed: 20 knots (37.0 km/h; 23.0 mph)
Range: 12,300 nautical miles (22,780 km; 14,155 mi) at 11 knots (20.4 km/h; 12.7 mph)
Complement: 125
Armament: As built:
2 x 5-inch/51
8 x .5-inch
Aircraft carried: 1 x Grumman JF-2 Duck or Curtiss SOC-4

The Treasury-class high endurance cutters were a group of seven ships launched by the United States Coast Guard between 1936 and 1937. The class were called the "Treasury-class" because they were each named for former Secretaries of the Treasury. These ships were also collectively known as the "327's" as they were all 327 feet (100 m) in length.[1] The Treasury-class cutters proved to be highly adaptable, dependable, versatile and long-lived warships; most served their country for over 40 years. In the words of naval historian John M. Waters, Jr., they were truly their nation's "maritime workhorses. The 327's battled, through the 'Bloody Winter' of 1942-43 in the North Atlantic, fighting off German U-boats and rescuing survivors from torpedoed convoy ships. They went on to serve as amphibious task force flagships, as search and rescue (SAR) ships during the Korean War, on weather patrol, and as naval gunfire support ships during the Vietnam War. Most recently, these ships-that-wouldn't-die have done duty in fisheries patrol and drug interdiction. Built for only $2.5 million each, in terms of cost effectiveness we may never see the likes of these cutters again."[2]

Design and construction[edit | edit source]

The 327's were designed to meet changing missions of the service as it emerged from the Prohibition era. Because the air passenger trade was expanding both at home and overseas, the Coast Guard believed that cutter-based aircraft would be essential for future high-seas search and rescue. Also, during the mid-1930s, narcotics smuggling, mostly opium, was on the increase, and long-legged, fairly fast cutters were needed to curtail it. The 327's were an attempt to develop a 20-knot (37 km/h) cutter capable of carrying an airplane in a hangar.

The final 327-foot (100 m) design was based on the Erie-class US Navy gunboats; the machinery plant and hull below the waterline were identical. This standardization would save money—always paramount in the Coast Guard's mind, as the cutters were built in U.S. Navy shipbuilding yards. Thirty-two preliminary designs based upon the Erie class were drawn up before one was finally selected. The healthy sheer forward and the high slope in the deck in the wardrooms was known as the "Hunnewell Hump." Commander (Constructor) F. G. Hunnewell, USCG, was the head of the Construction and Repair Department at that time.

The seven Treasury-class Coast Guard Cutters were:[1]

Displacing 2,350 tons with a 12-foot (3.7 m) draft, these ships had a maximum speed of 20 knots (37 km/h). They had crews of between 120 and 230 depending on whether they were serving in peace or wartime. The ships were originally built with two open centerline 5"/51 caliber gun mounts forward, and carried either a single Grumman JF-2 Duck or Curtiss SOC-4 aft. Various arrangements of 3"/50 and 5"/51 guns and depth charge throwers were installed aft when the planes were removed in 1940-41.[3][11] Postwar armament typically included hedgehog and an enclosed 5"/38 caliber gun mount forward and Mark 32 anti-submarine warfare torpedo tubes aft.[12]

World War II service[edit | edit source]

The "327's" were also known for their high "Kill Rate" during World War II. Campbell demonstrated Treasury-class anti-submarine warfare suitability escorting convoy HX-159 in November 1941.[13] With a kill rate of .57 per ship, the Treasury-class were the most successful antisubmarine warships. (US Navy Destroyer Escorts had a kill rate of .1) Treasury-class cutters served as leaders of Mid-Ocean Escort Force group A3 during the winter of 1942-43.[14]

  • Ingham escorted westbound convoy ONS-92.[15]
  • Campbell and Ingham escorted eastbound HX-190.[16]
  • Campbell, Ingham and Duane escorted westbound ONS-102.[17]
  • Spencer escorted eastbound SC-95 and westbound ON-125.
  • Campbell and Spencer escorted eastbound SC-100 and westbound ON-135.
  • Campbell escorted eastbound HX-212 and westbound ON-145.
  • Spencer escorted eastbound SC-111 and westbound ONS-156.
  • Campbell and Spencer escorted eastbound HX-223 and westbound Convoy ON-166.
  • Spencer escorted eastbound Convoy SC-121 and westbound ON-175.
  • Spencer and Duane escorted the final A3 convoy HX-233 eastbound.[18][19]

Bibb and Ingham participated in the battles of Convoy SC-118 and Convoy SC-121.[20]

Taney served in the Pacific and was uniquely armed with four enclosed 5"/38 gun mounts in centerline positions where the Erie class gunboats mounted 6"/47 guns.[21] The six surviving cutters were converted to amphibious force flagships towards the end of World War II. "Taney" also has the distinction of being one of only two military vessels still afloat that was present during the Pearl Harbor attack, December 7, 1941.

Fate[edit | edit source]

USCG Taney at Honolulu in 1958

With the exception of the Hamilton, which was torpedoed and sunk 10 miles (16 km) off Iceland 29 January 1942, all of the Treasury-class ships led very long lives.[22] The Bibb and Duane were sunk as artificial reefs off the coast of Florida in 1987. Campbell was sunk by the US Navy as a dummy ship on 29 November 1984. Spencer was sold 8 October 1981 for scrap. The Taney is currently a museum ship at the Baltimore Maritime Museum, in Baltimore, Maryland and the Ingham is part of the Key West Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida.

References[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Albrecht, Gerhard (1969). Weyer's Warships of the World, 1969. United States Naval Institute. 
  • Fahey, James C. (1942). The Ships and Aircraft of the United States Fleet, Two-Ocean Fleet Edition. Ships and Aircraft. 
  • Milner, Marc (1985). North Atlantic Run. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-450-0. 
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1975). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume I The Battle of the Atlantic 1939-1943. Little, Brown and Company. 
  • Rohwer, J. and Hummelchen, G. (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-105-X. 
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company. 
  • Waters, John M., Jr. (1967). Bloody Winter. D. Van Nostrand Company. 

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Silverstone 1968 p.373
  2. Waters 1967
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Fahey 1942 p.56
  4. "USCG Bibb". U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States CoastGuard. http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/Bibb1935.asp. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  5. "USCG Campbell". U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States CoastGuard. http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/Campbell1936.asp. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  6. "USCG Duane". U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States CoastGuard. http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/Duane_WPG_33.asp. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  7. "USCG Hamilton". U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States CoastGuard. http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/AlexanderHamilton1937.pdf. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  8. "USCG Ingham". U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States CoastGuard. http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/Ingham_WPG_35.asp. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  9. "USCG Spencer". U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States CoastGuard. http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/Spencer1937.asp. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  10. "USCG Taney". U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States CoastGuard. http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/Taney_1936.asp. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  11. Silverstone 1968 p.369
  12. Albrecht 1969 p.178
  13. Morison 1975 pp.108-109
  14. Milner 1985 pp.290-291
  15. Rohwer & Hummelchen 1992 p.139
  16. Rohwer & Hummelchen 1992 p.136
  17. Morison 1975 p.305
  18. Rohwer & Hummelchen 1992 p.207
  19. Morison 1975 p.344
  20. Morison 1975 pp.334-335&343
  21. Silverstone 1968 p.370
  22. Morison 1975 p.109

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