Seventy-five years ago this month, the United States Coast Guard cutter ship Taney was docked in Honolulu when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. As bombs rained down over the island, the crew returned fire, and despite the destruction surrounding the ship, it survived virtually unscathed.
Today, this legendary ship has found a final resting place in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, but its story begins in Philadelphia in 1936, when it was built with the Coast Guard’s motto in mind: “Semper Paratus,” which means always ready.
The USCGC Taney was designed to be multi-functional, usable for patrolling, environmental protection, and transportation, but in the early 1940s, as the country geared up for war, the ship was retrofitted with larger weapons and transferred to the U.S. Navy, where it carried out anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort duties in the Pacific theater.
After World War II, the Taney returned to the Coast Guard, operating as an ocean station weather ship, tracking storms and assisting in search-and-rescue missions until 1986, when it was decommissioned—making it the last active U.S. vessel that had been involved in that fateful day—and donated to Baltimore, under the stewardship of Historic Ships in Baltimore.
“Baltimore is very much a Coast Guard city, with the U.S. Coast Guard Yard being established here in 1899,” says Paul Cora, curator at Historic Ships in Baltimore. “Having an historic vessel linked to so many significant events in 20th-century American history is especially appropriate considering the city’s maritime history and the vital role of its seaport.”
Here in Charm City, the Taney maintains a permanent home at Pier 5, where, as “The Last Survivor of Pearl Harbor,” it is frequented by tourists, military members, scout troops, and history buffs.
“The Taney is a tremendous educational resource,” says Chris Rowsom, executive director of Historic Ships in Baltimore. “Every Dec. 7, the Taney is the focal point here in Baltimore for commemorating the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.”