USCGC Taney — From World War II to Baltimore Inner Harbor Museum

This is the first in a series of historical vignettes to highlight the wartime history of the U.S. Coast Guard in the Pacific and to lend context to the establishment of a Coast Guard Pacific Veterans Memorial in Hawaii and on Guadalcanal.

As the threat of war cast its shadow over the Hawaiian Islands, one U.S. Coast Guard cutter with beautiful lines and a reputation as a vessel with exceptional sea keeping abilities was already on watch in the 14th Naval District. The Coast Guard Cutter Taney (WPG 37), a five-year-old, 327-foot ship of the Treasury Class, homeported in Honolulu, operated with the U.S. Navy since July 25, 1941, conducting anti-submarine patrols with the ships of Destroyer Division 80. In the early morning hours of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft began their assault on numerous targets on the island of Oahu. The Taney and its crew, moored at Pier 6 in Honolulu, was the first U.S. Coast Guard unit to engage the attackers with anti-aircraft fire.

After the infamous surprise attack, the Taney and its crew continued to patrol Hawaiian waters until early 1943, and evacuated U.S. citizens from the Central Pacific islands and atolls of Enderbury, Johnston, and Palmyra. The cutter was then transferred to join other ships in the European Theater of Operations where it served on convoy escort duty in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

The warship returned to the Pacific and on Feb. 22, 1945, and embarked Navy Rear Admiral Calvin H. Cobb, prospective Commander, Naval Forces Ryukyus in time to participate fully in the last major battle of World War II. The Taney, stood alongside the many escort vessels that provided a radar and anti-aircraft picket during the Japanese Operation Ten-Go suicide attacks. The captain called the gallant crew to general quarters 119 times during the battle, shot down at least four kamikaze aircraft, and provided medical treatment to wounded sailors from nearby ships. The end of the war found the cutter steaming next to a fellow Pearl Harbor survivor, the USS Pennsylvania (BB-38).

After serving honorably in peacetime for 24 years, the Taney was called one last time to war off the coast of Vietnam as part of Operation Market Time. Assigned to Coast Guard Squadron 3 from May 14, 1969 to Jan. 31, 1970, the cutter’s crew fired over 3,400 five-inch rounds at Viet Cong positions during naval gunfire support missions, and helped to prevent maritime infiltration of the Republic of Vietnam by communist forces. The Taney’s medical personnel also treated more than 6,000 Vietnamese villagers. The crew’s actions earned the cutter the Vietnamese Presidential Unit Citation. Sixteen years later, the Taney was finally decommissioned and stricken from the list of active Coast Guard cutters.

Today the Taney still floats as a museum ship in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor … the last surviving warship of the attack on the island of Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941.

Sources: Wikipedia, USCGC Taney reunion web site, “Guardians of the Sea” by Robert Erwin Johnson.

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One Comment

  1. Thorfinna says:

    It’s a beautiful ship. I recommend a visit if you are ever in the Baltimore area.