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USCGC Duane (AGC-6/WAGC-33) on 6 March 1944
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Class:        DUANE (AGC-6)
Design:        USCG 327'
Displacement (tons):        2,350 trial, 2,750 fl
Dimensions (feet):        327.0' oa, 308.0' wl x 41.2' e x 15.0' max
Original Armament:        2-40mmQ 3-40mmT 8-20mm (1944: WAGC-33)
Later armaments:        --
Complement:        --
Speed (kts):        19.5
Propulsion (HP):        6,200
Machinery:        Westinghouse geared turbines, 2 screws

Construction:
AGC Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
6 DUANE -- NYd Philadelphia 1 May 35 3 Jun 36 --

Disposition:
AGC Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
6 DUANE -- -- 17 Jan 44 Canc. --

Class Notes:
No FY (transferred). In 1936 and 1937 the Coast Guard launched seven new large cutters designed to meet new post-Prohibition era missions. With the air passenger trade expanding cutter-based aircraft appeared to be essential for future high seas search and rescue, and with narcotics (mainly opium) smuggling increasing long-legged, fairly fast cutters appeared to be required for effective curtailment. The Coast Guard prepared its own 316-foot design for the new class, but at the same time the Navy was designing the 328.5-foot ERIE (PG-50) class gunboats and the Coast Guard opted to use the Navy design, heavily modified above the waterline. The Coast Guard served as part of the Navy from 1 Nov 42 to 1 Jan 46 and some of its ships, including all seven 327-foot BIBB class cutters (launched in 1936-37) were reassigned to naval uses during that period. The 327s were found to be excellent convoy escorts, having better sea-keeping qualities than destroyers and more internal space for survivors and hospital facilities.

DUANE was assigned to Navy duty on 11 Sep 41, serving first as a weather patrol ship and beginning in April 1942 as a convoy escort. Responding to a requirement for an additional command ship in the Mediterranean, CNO on 23 Sep 43 advised VCNO that, when the escort situation became favorable, CINCLANTFLT would be directed to make a BIBB class cutter available for conversion to an AGC. The conversion was to be similar to that of a similar size vessel already functioning as an AGC there, BISCAYNE (then still classified AVP-11), and was to feature the largest possible short range anti-aircraft battery, a Joint Army and Navy Operations Room, a CIC with fighter direction capabilities, maximum staff office and living space, and maximum communications and navigation facilities. On 27 Sep 43 VCNO specified that the ship would be transferred to the Navy and manned by the Navy. This probably caused BuShips to reserve the Navy hull number AGC-6 for her. By 12 Jan 44 the decision had been made to leave the ship in the Coast Guard, and DUANE (WPG-33) had been tentatively selected. The navy hull number AGC-6 was soon cancelled and replaced with the Coast Guard number WAGC-33 (although WAGC-6 may also have been used briefly). DUANE was converted at NSY Norfolk between 16 Jan 44 and 6 Mar 44. The BuShips conversion directive of 16 Jan 44 called for the ship to receive 2-5"/38 gun mounts, but these were omitted later in January because of the ship's inadequate stability. DUANE served in the Mediterranean for the rest of the war.

In February 1944 CNO wrote that there were five more BIBB class units available for conversion (the seventh unit of the class, ALEXANDER HAMILTON, had been sunk in 1942), but noted that the decision was being withheld pending a study by BuShips of the possibility of converting PFs or DEs into small AGCs. He added that "these small AGCs are not substitutes for the standard AGCs." The escort types were found too small for use as AGCs, however, and in late May 1944 CNO directed the conversion of the remaining five BIBBs to provide small amphibious flagships for Pacific operations. These were BIBB (WAGC-31, converted 17 Oct 44-29 Jan 45), CAMPBELL (WAGC-32, 4 Jan-28 Mar 45), INGHAM (WAGC-35, 1 Aug-21 Oct 44), SPENCER (WAGC-36, 26 Jun-11 Sep 44), and TANEY (WAGC-37, 10 Oct 44-29 Jan 45). These five ships had an armament similar to the one initially planned for DUANE: 2-5"/38 and 6-40mm (3x2). The first two converted, INGHAM and SPENCER got three masts like DUANE, the others got two. All six BIBB class units were reconverted to cutters following the war and served into the 1980s.

Ship Notes:
AGC Name Notes
6 DUANE Commissioned 1 Aug 36 as the USCG cutter WILLIAM J. DUANE, name shortened in May-Jun 37. Navy designator AGC-6 assigned late 1943 but cancelled in Jan 44 when decision made not to transfer the ship from the Coast Guard to the Navy. Converted by NYd Norfolk. Reconversion to a cutter directed in Aug 45 and completed in Apr 46. Served continuously until decommissioned on 1 Aug 85. Sunk as a fish reef 27 Nov 87.

Page Notes:
AGC        1943
Compiled:        24-Jun-2004
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2004