USS Zane (DD-337)

USS Zane (DD-337) was a Clemson class destroyer that was converted into a fast minesweeper in 1940, and that fought at Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, New Georgia, the Marshalls and Guam.

The Zane was named after Randolph Talcott Zane, a major in the Marine Corps who was fatally wounded at Belleau Wood on 26 June 1918, dying on 24 October 1918.

The Zane was laid down by the Mare Island Navy Yard on 15 January 1919, launched on 12 August 1919 when she was sponsored by Major Zane’s daughter Miss Marjorie Zane and commissioned on 15 February 1921.

USS Zane (DD-337), 1934, Panama Canal Zone USS Zane (DD-337), 1934, Panama Canal Zone

After her shakedown cruise the Zane joined Destroyer Division 14 at San Francisco on 22 June 1921, then on the following day departed for the western Pacific to join the Asiatic Station. She reached her new base at Cavite, in the Philippines, on 24 August, and spent most of the rest of the next year operating in that area. In June 1922 she moved to Chinese waters, arriving in the Yangtze on 6 June. Later on the same day she was accidentally rammed by the Chinese river steamer Tse Kiang, and had to go into the dry docks at Shanghai for brief repairs. Her visit to China was short, and after visiting Chefoo and Chinwangtao she departed for the US on 25 August. On her way back she visited Nagasaki, before reaching San Francisco on 2 October 1922.

The Zane spent the next seven years in the reserve, after being decommissioned at San Diego on 1 February 1923. She was recommissioned on 25 February 1930, after the boilers in her Yarrow powered sister-ships were discovered to be too badly worn to be worth repairing.

The Zane joined the Battle Fleet for the next decade, apart from a brief period with Rotating Reserve Squadron 20 late in 1934. In 1930 she joned Division 10, Destroyer Squadron 4, Destroyer, Battle Force, Destroyer Flotilla 2. She moved between divisions and squadrons over the next decade, but remained in Flotilla 2. During this period she took part in a series of the Fleet Problems, which took her form the Pacific into the Caribbean and the US Atlantic fleet. In the summer of 1933 she was part of a fleet of destroyers that visited Alaska.

In 1940 she was chosen to be converted into a high speed minesweeper. The work was carried out at Pearl Harbor, and she was redesignated as DMS-14 on 19 November 1940. For the next year she operated in Hawaiian waters.

1941

USS Zane (DD-337) off an unnamed coast USS Zane (DD-337) off an unnamed coast

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 the Zane was moored off Pearl City, in a nest with the rest of Mine Division 4 (Trever (DMS-16), Wasmuth (DMS-15), and Perry (DMS-17)). Just after 0757 she went to general quarters, and opened fire with her AA guns on any aircraft that came within range. At 0830 her crew spotted a possible Japanese submarine, but was unable to open fire because her view was blocked by her sisterships. The submarine was rammed and sunk by USS Monaghan (DD-354). The Zane and her sister ships were eventually able to get underway, and took up patrol positions off shore. The Zane suffered no damage from the Japanese attack, but did suffer some minor damage from friendly shrapnel from anti-aircraft fire. At 1410 the Zane and Wasmuth set up a two ship mine sweep, and at 1547 they began to sweep the entrance channel, reaching the gate vessel before the sweep finally parted.

After the attack the Zane was used on anti-submarine patrols in the Pearl Harbor area, but didn’t find any Japanese submarines.

1942

The Zane operated around Pearl Habor until 5 April 1942 when she departed as part of the escort for a slow convey heading to San Pedro, California. She entered the Mare Island Navy Yard for repairs and alterations, before returning to Pearl Harbor in June.

Keel Laying Ceremony for USS Zane (DD-337) Keel Laying Ceremony for USS Zane (DD-337)

The Zane was chosen to join the invasion fleet heading for Guadalcanal as part of Operation Watchtower. On 7 August 1942 the Zane and four sister-ships worked together to sweep the approaches to the landing beaches, but no mines were found. After the landings the Zane was used to sweep for any further mines, as well as general patrol duties. This routine was broken in late October when she and the Trever were used to rush urgently needed supplies to Guadalcanal. At Espiritu Santo they were loaded with aviation fuel, torpedoes , ammo and other stores needed to keep the American aircraft on Gualalcanal in the air. Each destroyer also towed two motor torpedo boats. They reached Tulagi early on 25 October, where they began to unload their supplies. The Trever completed her work by 0700, but at 0809 the two ships were forced to cast off after the air raid warning went off.  

Things got worse when the Tulagi signal station reported that three enemy ships had been sighted heading in their direction. Commander D.M. Agnew of the Trever, who commanded the task group, decided to attempt to run for it and the two ships were soon underway. At 1014 they left the channel leading to Tulagi, but then spotted the Japanese ships at a range of 21,000 yards. This was the 1st Attack Unit, made up of the destroyers Akatsuki, Ikazuchi and Shiratsuyu, which were in the area to provide naval gun support for an attack on Henderston Field. The Japanese destroyers were more heavily armed that their American opponents, each with six 5in guns, compared to the four 4in guns of the Zane and Trever. By 10.30 the Japanese were in range, and opened fire. The Zane suffered one direct hit, which killed three men in the the forward 3in gun mount. Other hits cut away much of the rigging, but luckily for the Americans the Japanese were armed with HE shells for the shore bombardment and not armour piercing shells. After ten minutes the Japanese broke off the chase, and instead attacked and sank the fleet tug Seminole (AT-65) and a small patrol craft, before withdrawing from the area under air attack. The Trever and Zane were able to escape to the east.

The Zane remained in the forward area for the rest of 1942. In November 1942 she and the Trever escorted the PT boats of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 2 from Noumea to Espiritu Santo.

1943

After escorting a last convoy from the New Hebrides to Tulagi and Guadalcanal, the Zane was sent to Sydney, Australia, in January 1943 for repairs and a rest. This was interrupted by a rescue mission late in January, after a Japanese submarine torpedoed the American steamship Peter H. Burnett. On 25 January, wuth the help of a Catalina of the RAAF, the Zane found a lifeboat carrying fourteen men from the ship, and then the ship itself, which was still afloat. Thirteen of the fourteen men were transferred back to their ship, which the Zane then towed back to port. They arrived on 27 January.

By the time the Zane returned to Guadalcanal in late February the Japanese had evacuated the island. The American’s next target was the Russell Islands, sixty miles further to the west/ north-west. The Zane formed part of Task Unit 61.1.3 and was used to tow two LCVPs, one LCV and one LCM to the islands. On 21 February Operation Cleanslate, the invasion of the Russells, went ahead without opposition, the Japanese having evacuated them just beforehand.

The Zane’s next mission was Operation Toenails, the invasion of New George. Zane and Talbot (APD-7) formed the Onaiavisi Occupation Unit (TU 31.1.1) with the task of carrying part of the 169th Infantry Regiment and towing an LCVP to the islands on either side of the Onaiavisi Channel, which was the approach route to Zanana Beach, where one of the main landings was to be carried out. The two minesweepers reached the channel entrance at 0225 on 30 June, but just before 0300 the Zane ran aground in heavy rain. Luckily this didn’t stop her putting her troops ashore on the correct island, which was then used as a base for the attack on Zanana Beach.

Although the fighting on land went well, the Zane was now in trouble. At about 0523 she was able to back off the beach, but unfortunately this movement ended with her grounded aft instead. This time she suffered propeller damage, and was unable to free herself. An attempt by the Talbot also failed. The Zane was dangerously exposed, only five miles from the Japanese on Munda airfield and facing an enemy held shore, but luckily the Japanese missed their chance. The tug Rail (AT-139) finally managed to pull the Zane off the rocks at 1419, and then towed her back to Tulagi for repairs.

After emergency repairs at Tulagi the Zane crossed the Pacific to Mare Island where she underwent full repairs and some modifications. The work was completed by 23 September when she departed for Pearl Harbor. She arrived there on 30 September, and spent the rest of 1943 operating in the Hawaiian area.

1944 onwards

On 22 January 1944 the Zane left Pearl Harbor to take part in Operation Flintlock, the invasion of the Masrhall Islands. She formed part of the Southern Attack Force, and was allocated to the Southern Transport Screen (TU 52.7.1), along with the Perry, four destroyers and two sub-chasers.

The Zane was used to screen transport ships during the invasion of Kwajalein. During the invasion of Eniwetok she was used as a mine sweeper and mine disposal vessel. She suffered some minor damage during this part of the operation, which involved deliberately exploding mines, sometimes within 100 yards off the ship. The Zane returned to Pearl Habour in March.

In the summer of 1944 the Zane took part in Operation Forager. She was part of Unit 2 within Task Group 12.13, the Minesweeping and Hydrographic Survey Group, and was used as a mine disposal vessel (alongside her sister ships Chandler (DMS-9), Palmer (DMS-5), and Howard (DMS-7)).

On 15 June she supported the invasion of Saipan, once again acting as a mine disposal vesslel, destroying mines with gunfire as well as dropping marker buoys.

On 22 July she formed part of the anti-submarine screen form the reserve transport group (TG 53.19) for the invasion of Guam. The Zane remained in the Mariana Islands until 8 August.

This was her last front line service. After leaving the Marianas she joined Service Squdaron 10 at Ulithi, where she became a target towing vessel. She combined this role with local escort duties, which took her to the Palaus, Marianas, Carolines and Philippines. On VJ Day she was in San Pedro Bay, Leyte. On 5 June 1945 she was reclassified as miscellaneous auxiloiary AG-109.

The Zane departed for home in October 1945, reaching Norfolk, Virginia on 29 November. She was decommissioned on 14 December 1945, struck off on 8 January 1946 and sold for scrap on 22 October 1946.

The Zame was awarded six battle stars and a Navy Unit Commendation for her actions at Guadalcanal.

Displacement (standard)

1,190t

Displacement (loaded)

1,308t

Top Speed

35kts
35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)

Engine

2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)

Range

2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Armour - belt

 

 - deck

 

Length

314ft 4in

Width

30ft 10.5in

Armaments

Four 4in/ 50 guns
One 3in/23 AA gun
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement

114

Launched

12 August 1919

Commissioned

15 February 1921

Sold for scrap

22 October 1946

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann . The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 May 2021), USS Zane (DD-337) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Zane_DD337.html

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