THE USCG CUTTER DUANE
The U.S.C.G.C. Duane, named after William J. Duane, Secretary of the Treasury under President Andrew Jackson, was one of seven 327’ Secretary Class Vessels. Launched in June of 1936, she served as a search and rescue/law enforcement vessel, and in 1939 she was operated jointly with the U.S. Navy as part of a destroyer squadron assisting with shipping in the North Atlantic. In 1941 The Duane rescued 46 survivors from the British Merchant Ship Tresillian sunk by a German U-Boat. In April of 1943 The Duane and sister ship Spencer sank the German U-Boat U-77. The Duane rescued 22 crew members from the submarine. In 1946 she was put back into peacetime service. In 1957 she rescued 28 from a sinking Finnish freighter near Bermuda. Between 1957 and 1968 Duane served in Viet Nam as part of the Coastal Surveillance Force. In the 1970’s Duane was involved in drug enforcement. On August 1, 1985 she was decommissioned as the oldest active U.S. Military Vessel. She was sunk November 26, 1987 as an artificial reef off Molasses Reef in Key Largo, about a quarter mile from her sister ship, Bibb.
The Duane is 327 feet long. She carried a complement of 12 officers and 116 enlisted men. She was fitted with one 5” dual purpose gun and four .50 caliber machine guns. She cruised at 19.5 knots and was powered by two Westinghouse double-reduction geared turbines producing 6200 shaft horsepower total.
Today, divers can explore the wreck of the Duane, which quickly became home to a large community of sea life. Beginning at about 60fsw, schools of large Barracuda hang out and are sometimes accompanied by an occasional shark or two. Big Rays are often seen, and there is a resident green Moray eel. There are brightly colored attachments of all sorts throughout the ship. The current here can be strong, and this is a dive for those with advanced experience.
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