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USCGC Campbell (WPG-32)
USCGC Campbell (WHEC-32) underway in 1982
USCGC Campbell (WPG-32) in final configuration
Career Ensign of the United States Coast Guard.svg
Name: USCGC George W. Campbell
Namesake: Treasury Secretary George Washington Campbell
Builder: Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
Laid down: 1 May 1935
Launched: 3 June 1936
Commissioned: 16 June 1936
Decommissioned: 1 April 1982
Refit: 1941, 1943, 1945, 1946, 1966
Identification: WPG-32
Nickname: Queen of the Seas
Fate: Sunk as target by USN
General characteristics
Class & type: Treasury Class
Displacement: 2,350 tons (original)
Length: 327 ft (100 m)
Beam: 41 ft (12.5 m)
Propulsion: 2 Babcock and Wilcox boilers and 2 Westinghouse double-reduction geared steam turbine engines. 6,200 hp (4.6 MW)
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h)
Range: 8,270 nmi. (15,000 km)
Complement: 125 to 225 men (depending on time period)
Armament: 1936:
2 × 5"/51 (single mount);
2 × 6-pounders.;
1 × 1-pounder.
3 × 5"/51 (single mount);
3 × 3"/50 (single mount);
4 × .50 caliber Browning MG (machine gun);
2 × depth charge racks;
1 × "Y" gun depth charge projector.
2 × 5"/51 (single mount);
4 × 3"/50 (single mount);
2 × 20mm/80 (single mount);
1 × Hedgehog;
2 × "K" gun depth charge projectors;
2 × depth charge racks.
2 × 5"/38 (single mount);
3 × 40mm/60 (twin mount);
6 × 20mm/80 (single mount).
1 × 5"/38 (single mount);
1 × 40mm;/60 (twin mount);
8 × 20mm/80 (single mount);
1 × Hedgehog.
1 × 5"/38 MK30 Mod75 (single);
MK 52 MOD 3 director;
1 × MK 10-1 Hedgehog;
2 (P&S) × Mk 32 MOD 5 TT,
4 × MK 44 MOD 1 torpedoes;
2 × .50 cal. MK-2 Browning MG,
2 × MK-13 high altitude parachute flare mortars
Aircraft carried: originally 1 Grumman J2F Seaplane, later removed

USCGC Campbell (WPG-32) was a 327-foot (100 m) Secretary-Class (also known as "Treasury Class") Coast Guard ship built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1935-1936 and commissioned in 1936. Seven similar "combat cutters" were built and named for secretaries of the United States Treasury. The Campbell was named for George Washington Campbell, a native of Scotland, who served as a Secretary of the Treasury under President James Madison. The ship earned the title "Queen of the Seas" during a 46-year career, spanning World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War.

Launch and early serviceEdit

USCGC Campbell (WPG-32) at New York Navy Yard 1940

Campbell in the New York Navy Yard, 1940.

The George W. Campbell was launched on 3 June 1936 and sailed to her homeport of Stapleton, New York, under the command of Cdr. E.G. Rose, USCG, assigned to conduct search and rescue and law enforcement patrols. She left New York on 22 October 1936, for her shakedown cruise to Southampton, England, returning to New York on 16 November. Her peace-time armament consisted of two 5-inch 51 caliber and two 6-pound signal guns, all mounted forward. Unlike the other Secretary Class cutters, Campbell and Ingham did not continue to carry aircraft, though they had originally been equipped to do so.

In August 1937 her official name was shortened to "Campbell" and it was also during this time that her mascot Sinbad reported aboard. Sinbad remained on the Campbell throughout her tour of duty during World War II, caused at least two international incidents in foreign harbors, faithfully manned his battle station during combat, and generally kept the crew amused during her long voyages over eleven years;[1] Sinbad died on 30 December 1951, after many years of service,[2] and was the first and one of the few Coast Guardsmen to have a published biography.[3]

Wartime dutiesEdit

On 5 September 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed American neutrality in the conflict and ordered the formation of a neutrality patrol by the Navy to report and track any belligerent air, surface, or submarine activity in the waters off the United States east coast and in the West Indies. The Navy determined that its destroyers were not capable of extended cruises in the North Atlantic and asked that the Coast Guard conduct these patrols. The Coast Guard assigned the Campbell to conduct the first Coast Guard neutrality patrol, which were referred to as "Grand Banks Patrols." Campbell would perform five such cruises, each lasting approximately two weeks, the last such cruise returning to New York on 29 January 1940.

When prepared for convoy escort duty prior to her sailing for Portugal, workers at the New York Navy Yard added three 3-inch 51 caliber guns in-line, aft. Her two signal guns that were directly forward of the bridge were replaced with a single 3-inch 50 caliber gun. Her two 5-inch 51 caliber main batteries remained unchanged. Campbell was the first Secretary Class cutter to transfer for duty with the Navy (on 1 July 1941) and the first to sail on escort of convoy duties when she escorted Convoy HX-159 which sailed on 10 November 1941.[4] The Campbell's permanent station was changed from Stapleton to Boston in February, 1942, and she later exchanged a 5-inch (130 mm) for a 3-inch (76 mm) gun, installed 6 more 20 mm guns, substituted 2 "K" guns for "Y" guns and had splinter protection built around three gun decks, bridge and wheel house.

Campbell, along with Spencer, were the first US warships equipped with HF/DF, pioneered by the Royal Navy for the fight against the German U-boat fleet. The two cutters had been selected by the Navy to serve as test ships to gain experience with HF/DF, using British FH3 systems (carrying the U.S. designation Type DAR) installed in the American shipyard in Northern Ireland under the supervision of experts from the Admiralty Signals Establishment.[5] As the Royal Navy had already discovered, HF/DF was an important part of combatting the threat posed to Allied convoys by U-boats, and the experience with the interim DAR equipment provided impetus to the U.S. development of its own Type DAQ system.[6]

Sinbad on Campbell

Sinbad and crew, 1943

When the British and Canadians assumed full responsibility for convoys in the North Atlantic in mid-1943, the US took control of all mid-Atlantic and Mediterranean convoys, where the cutters faced a constant threat from U-boats and the Luftwaffe. Convoys were especially vulnerable once they cleared Gibraltar. Campbell sailed as an escort for Mediterranean convoys in 1943–1944 and saw considerable action against both U-boats and aircraft, with two incidents in particular of note.

U-boat attack, February, 1943Edit

On 21 February 1943, Campbell was escorting the 48-ship Convoy ON-166 when the convoy was surrounded by a U-Boat "wolf pack". U-92 and U-753 torpedoed and sank the NT Nielsen Alonso.[1] Dispatched to assist, Campbell rescued fifty survivors and then turned to attack U-753, damaging it so badly that it had to withdraw. Throughout the 21st and 22nd, Campbell attacked several U-Boats inflicting damage and driving off the subs. Later on the 22nd, U-606, having sustained heavy damage, surfaced in the midst of the convoy attempting a surface attack. Campbell struck the sub a glancing blow that gashed Campbell's hull in the engine room below the waterline, but continued to attack, dropping two depth charges which exploded and lifted the sub out of the water. The crew brought all guns to bear on the subs, fighting on until water in the engine room shorted out all electricity. As the ship lost power and the searchlights illuminating the sub went out, the U-Boat commander ordered the sub abandoned. Campbell ceased fire and lowered boats to rescue the sub's survivors. Campbell, disabled in the attack, was towed to port nine days later, repaired and returned to escort duty.

Illustrator Anton Otto Fischer, working for Life Magazine, was serving as a Lieutenant Commander on the Campbell for this voyage. His series of detailed oil paintings depicting the battle and its aftermath appeared in Life's July 5, 1943 edition.[7]

Additional detail on U606 encounter on 2/22/43 by nephew of the Chief Engineer (added 12/26/2011):

My Uncle Eddy served aboard the Campbell during WWII as Chief Engineer and often told me, as a young boy, the encounter with U606. What has been previously described is accurate and I won’t repeat it. Here are additional details from that encounter. The Campbell engaged U606 after it surfaced but the range was so close the Campbell’s main guns could not be lowered enough to fire on the sub. The Campbell’s captain decided to ram the sub, the Campbell had an ice breaker bow. As the two vessels closed on each other, small arms fire was exchanged and the U-boat was still under power with her diesels. The U-boat’s captain, realizing he was going to be rammed turned towards the Campbell in an attempt to avoid being rammed, and perhaps realizing their closeness was protecting his U-boat from the Campbell’s main batteries. One can possibly assume the U-boat captain was attempting to get aft of the Campbell to try to outrun her on the surface. As the two vessels approached each other, whether intentionally or not, the sub’s diving planes were still full extended outward. As the two ships sideswiped each other the sub’s diving plane sliced the Campbell open like a can opener, allowing water to enter her engine and boiler rooms. As the two ships opened distance again, the Campbell quickly lost all engine and electrical power and her guns could not be fired or brought to bear without electrical power. The U-boat captain, most likely unaware of the extensive damage to the Campbell. scuttled his ship. With the Campbell’s engine and boiler rooms totally flooded, the Campbell had no propulsion, no defenses other than small arms, no electric power, lights or heat, and the pumps on the Campbell were inoperative. The gash in the hull extended for several inches into an adjacent watertight compartment and if it flooded the Campbell could not stay afloat. The crew rigged some sort of matting and my Uncle Eddy when into the frigid water, in a hard hat diver’s suit, to weld a plate or the matt over the gash in the adjacent compartment to stop the flooding. He was awarded a medal for undertaking this dangerous repair and dive. My Uncle said they could not send out a distress signal (radio had backup batteries) because German U-boat might detect their sitting duck predicament and finish her off. During the nine days they were adrift in the freezing North Atlantic, my Uncle said they spotted more than one periscope but the Germans probably assumed the Campbell was playing dead in an effort to sucker a U-boat to take shot at them. Finally the Polish manned destroyer Burza came upon the disabled Campbell and towed her to port. After the Campbell was towed to port for repairs, it was discovered U606’s diving plane was still stuck in the side of the Campbell. The diving plane was cut up into small pieces by the shipyard and a piece was given to each crew member. I saw the piece my Uncle Eddy had but it is now long gone.

Luftwaffe attack, May, 1944Edit

USCGC Campbell (WPG-32) in 1944

Campbell in 1944.

In April 1944, the Convoy UGS-40, consisting of some 80 vessels, sailed for the Mediterranean, led by Campbell. The escort screen contained three destroyers, six American destroyer escorts from CortDiv 5, and two French destroyer escorts. Due to recent attacks by the Luftwaffe against Allied convoys in the western Mediterranean, UGS-40 sailed with an elaborate air defense plan, formulated by the convoy's screen commander, Comdr. Jesse C. Sowell, aboard the Campbell. Practiced in Hampton Roads prior to the convoy's departure and as it crossed the Atlantic, these tactics were designed to meet mass aerial attacks by German aircraft carrying a variety of weapons ranging from bombs, to torpedoes, to radio-controlled glider bombs. Off Gibraltar, UGS-40 acquired additional escorts: British antiaircraft cruiser HMS Caledon (D53), USS Wilhoite (DE-397), USS Benson (DD-421), and two American minesweepers (USS Steady (AM-118) and USS Sustain (AM-119)) carrying special apparatus to jam radar transmissions and thus confuse the German glider bombs. On 9 May 1944, the convoy possed through the Straits of Gibraltar en route to Bizerte, Tunisia, without incident, but two days later detected German "snoopers" trailing the convoy. In the next few hours, 10 successive shore-based fighter interception sorties failed to drive off the enemy reconnaissance aircraft. First alerted by shore-based radar, the escort screen went to general quarters at 13:16 on 11 May, beginning the first of five successive alerts. In Campbell, Commander Sowell warned the escorts to be alert to the possibility of a dusk attack. At 20:25, radar noted the approach of enemy aircraft, and Sowell formed the convoy into eight columns 1,000 yards (910 m) apart for maneuvering room. When the enemy was reported 70 miles (110 km) north of Cape Corbelin, UGS-40 steered due east, past Cape Bengut. Shortly after sunset, escort ships commenced laying smoke screens, as the German aircraft, a mixed force of Junkers (Ju.) 88's, Heinkel He. 111's, and Dornier Do. 217's, approached from the stern of the convoy and broke into groups to attack from different points of the compass. The destroyer escorts and friendly fighter craft downed an estimated 17 of the enemy torpedo planes, and drove away all the remainder, and the Allied convoy emerged unscathed.

My father, Anthony Accardi from Boston, MA, served aboard the Campbell during WWII. He participated in the sinking of U606 and the Luftwaffe attack in 1944.
USS Campbell Lamp

Engraved on this lamp is the description of an air attack on the USS Campbell in 1944

Passed down through the family is a wooden lamp made on the ship shortly after the attack. Engraved in pencil is this description of the battle: “Thursday, May 11, 1944. While on convoy duty in the Mediterranean Sea off Algiers, we were attacked by thirty or more German Planes composed of Junker 88’s, Heinkel 111’s. Thirteen were shot down, five more left the scene smoking, three torpedoes were shot at us, one missed us by only ten feet. There was no one killed and no ships in our convoy were lost. The attack lasted thirty-Nine minutes from 9:06 to 9:46.”

On the opposite side of the lamp Gun Crew No 6 is listed as such: Battery Officer-Lt Tom Lin, Gun Capt- Trahant, Pointer- Accardi, Sightsett- Piper, Trainer- Wiliams, 1st Shellman- Rosta, 2nd “ -Hill, Ranner, Pressagno, 1st Powderman- Hall, 2nd “ - Lucas, 3rd “ - Vosnick, Trayman, Korecki,

Convoys escortedEdit

Convoy Escort Group Dates Notes
ON 28 31 Oct-3 Nov 1941[8] from Iceland to Newfoundland prior to US declaration of war
HX 159 10-19 Nov 1941[9] from Newfoundland to Iceland prior to US declaration of war
ON 39 29 Nov-4 Dec 1941[8] from Iceland to Newfoundland prior to US declaration of war
HX 166 25-31 Dec 1941[9] from Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 53 9-19 Jan 1942[8] from Iceland to Newfoundland
HX 174 MOEF group A3 9-17 Feb 1942[9] from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 69 MOEF group A3 25 Feb-4 March 1942[8] from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
SC 76 MOEF group A3 28 March-11 April 1942[10] from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
HX 190 MOEF group A3 20–27 May 1942[9] from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 102 MOEF group A3 10–21 June 1942[8] from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 196 MOEF group A3 2–10 July 1942[9] from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 114 MOEF group A3 20–30 July 1942[8] from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
SC 100 MOEF group A3 16-27 Sept 1942[10] from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 135 MOEF group A3 3-14 Oct 1942[8] from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 212 MOEF group A3 23 Oct-1 Nov 1942[9] from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 145 MOEF group A3 10-20 Nov 1942[8] from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
ON 156 25-30 Dec 1942[10] Iceland shuttle
HX 223 MOEF group A3 19-late Jan 1943[9] from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
Convoy ON 166 MOEF group A3 12-22 Feb 1943[8] from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland

Later serviceEdit

USCGC Campbell (WPG-32) underway 1963

USCGC Campbell (WPG-32) in 1963.

After conversion to an Amphibious Command Ship (Type AGC) in the Boston Navy Yard between 4 January and 28 March 1945, Campbell was assigned to duty in the Pacific as an Amphibious Flagship. She sailed from Pearl Harbor for Saipan and arrived on 3 August 1945, sailing again for Manila on 10 August, and Leyte on the 19th. On 1 October 1945 she was anchored at Wakanoura Wan, Honshū, Japan as the flagship for Communications Service Division 103. On 30 October she sailed to Sasebo and stayed until 30 November when she was ordered back to the U.S.[1] In January 1959, Campbell was one of the ships which answered the distress call of Hans Hedtoft which had struck an iceberg off Greenland. She participated in the search until it was called off on 7 February.[11]

Campbell was twice more called to combat action, in Korea and Vietnam. During Operation Market Time, Campbell destroyed or damaged 105 Viet Cong structures and steamed over 32,000 miles (51,000 km) in the Vietnamese War Zone. Campbell was assigned to Search-and-Rescue, Maritime Law Enforcement, Military Readiness, and Ocean Station duties. She was homeported in New York City until 1969 when she moved to Portland, Maine. In 1974 her homeport was again changed, this time to Port Angeles, Washington. There she continued her peacetime duties until decommissioned in 1982. At the time of decommissioning, Campbell was the oldest active continually commissioned vessel in the United States Fleet.[2]


Campbell32 sinking

Campbell with port decks awash following hit from US Navy Harpoon missile.

USCGC Campbell was sunk on 29 November 1984 as a target in the mid-Pacific ocean by the United States Navy at coordinates 22°48′N 160°06′W / 22.8°N 160.1°W / 22.8; -160.1Coordinates: 22°48′N 160°06′W / 22.8°N 160.1°W / 22.8; -160.1, northwest of Hawaii, and rests at 2,800 fathoms (5,100 m). A final message was transmitted as the ship, which remained largely intact after a Harpoon missile strike, went down. It said:





  • Presidential Unit Citation (Navy)
  • American Campaign Medal
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • China Service Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal w/ one battle star
  • Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
  • Vietnam Service Medal w/ two battle stars
  • Republic of Vietnam Armed Force
  • Vietnam Campaign
  • American Defense Service Medal
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal w/ four battle stars
  • Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ four battle stars
  • Navy Occupation Service Medal
  • Philippine Liberation Ribbon w/ two battle stars
  • Meritorious Unit Citation w/ Gallantry Cross w/ Palm


U.S. Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon.svg
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
American Defense Service ribbon.svg China Service Medal ribbon.svg
Presidential Unit Citation (Philippines).svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
Phliber rib.png
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg
Army of Occupation ribbon.svg
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon.png


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2
  3. Foley, Chief Specialist George F., Jr. (1945) Sinbad of the Coast Guard. Dodd, Mead & Co., New York.
  5. P. G. Redgment, "High-Frequency Direction Finding in the Royal Navy: Development of Anti-U-Boat Equipment, 1941-5," in Applications of Radar and Other Electronic Systems in the Royal Navy in World War 2, ed. F[rederick] A. Kingsley (Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 1995)
  6. Kathleen Broome Williams "Secret Weapon: U.S. High-Frequency Direction Finding in the Battle of the Atlantic". Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. (October 1, 1996), ISBN 1-55750-935-2
  7. "The Cruise of the 'Campbell' - She Fights in the Atlantic," Life Magazine, 1943-07-05 at p. 57.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 "ON convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 "HX convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "SC convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  11. "Little Titanic (1 of 2)". Time. 9 February 1959.,9171,892163,00.html. Retrieved 4 November 2009. 

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