Elisha Kent Kane, born in Philadelphia 28 February 1820, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1842. He became Assistant Surgeon in the Navy 14 September 1843 to serve in the China Commercial Treaty mission under Caleb Gushing, in the Africa Squadron, and in the Marines during the Mexican War.
He became senior medical officer of the unsuccessful Arctic expedition searching for explorer Sir John Franklin in 1850 and 1851. Kane organized and headed a second rescue expedition which sailed from New York 31 May 1853, and wintered in Rensselaer Bay. Though at times near death, and scurvy-ridden he resolutely pushed on and chartered the coasts of Smith Sound (now called Kane Basin) and penetrated farther north than any other explorer had done up to that time. At Cape Constitution he discovered the ice-free Kennedy Channel, later followed by Hayes, Hall, Greely, and Robert E. Peary in turn as they drove toward the North Pole.
Kane finally abandoned the icebound brig Advance 20 May 1855 and escaped the clutches of the frozen north by an 83-day march of indomitable courage to Upernavik. The party, carrying the invalids, lost only one man in the retreat to stand in the annals of Arctic exploration as the archetype of victory over defeat. Kane returned to New York 11 October 1855 and the following year published his two-volume "Arctic Explorations." After visiting England, he sailed to Havana, Cuba, where he died 16 February 1857.
The first Kane (Destroyer No. 235) laid was down 3 July 1918 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; launched 12 August 1919, sponsored by Miss Florence Kane, cousin of Elisha Kent Kane; and commissioned 11 June 1920, Comdr. William Hall in command.
Kane departed Newport 20 August 1920 for her shakedown cruise to Gibralter, Brest, Copenhagen. Danzig, and the Gulf of Riga. She was just outside the Gulf in the Baltic Sea 1 October 1920 and supposedly well-clear of the minefields laid in World War I when a mine exploded, bending her port engine shafts and port propeller struts. After repair at Landskrone, Sweden, and overhaul at Chatham, England, she sailed 21 May 1921 for the Mediterranean.
On 22 June 1921 Kane rescued an Italian torpedo boat drifting upon the rocks off Cape Spartivento. On 3 July she reached Constantinople for relief work in Turkish waters. She returned to Newport 23 August. She sailed 2 October with Destroyer Squadron 14 to evacuate refugees and perform other relief work in Asia Minor. She arrived in Constantinople 22 October, and was constantly used to carry supplies, medical aid, refugees and relief officials between ports of the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean. She departed Constantinople 18 May 1923 and spent the next 5 years with the Scouting Fleet operating along the East Coast and in the Caribbean. She departed New York 13 February 1925 for a fleet training cruise to San Diego, thence she sailed to Pearl Harbor and returned 17 July. In the spring of 1927 the destroyer patrolled off bandit-plagued Nicaragua and the Honduras. She decommissioned in the Philadelphia Navy Yard 31 December 1930.
Kane recommissioned 1 April 1932 and departed Philadelphia 29 June for San Diego, her base for the next 4 years. She got underway from San Diego 27 April 1936 for fleet exercises in the Caribbean before entering the New York Navy Yard to prepare for special service.
Kane departed New York 17 August 1936 for Spain to evacuate American citizens whose lives were endangered by the Civil War in Spain. On 30 August en route to Bilbao she had to open fire three times to drive off a tri-motored monoplane dropping bombs within a hundred yards of the destroyer. A strong protest to both Spanish Civil War factions was then made and forestalled similar incidents. She called at Bilbao and Gijon embarking refugees who were taken to St. Jean de Luz France.
Cruiser Raleigh (CL-7) arrived at Gibralter 27 September 1936 as flagship of Squadron Forty-T commanded by Rear Admiral Arthur P. Fairfield. This special squadron, initially comprising Raleigh, destroyers Kane and Hatfield, and CGC Cayuga, saved hundreds of American and other nationals from the dangers of the war in Spain. Kane and Hatfield were relieved by destroyers Claxton and Manley 9 November 1937 and sailed for home. Kane entered the Charleston Navy Yard 22 November and decommissioned 28 April 1938.
Kane recommissioned 23 September 1939 to serve in the neutrality patrol in the North Atlantic. On 7 August she took up inshore defensive patrol along both coastlines of Panama. She then steamed to San Diego, arriving 4 November 1940, to patrol off the coast of California. She overhauled in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard from 4 January to 3 March 1941, she was based at Seattle for patrols north to Alaska, and along the western seaboard. After the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, she departed Seattle for Kodiak, Alaska, and escorted troop transports back to Seattle 23 December. Following a similar escort voyage, she arrived at Seward 19 April 1942 for inter-island convoy and submarine patrols among Alaskan ports.
On 11 June Kane rescued 11 survivors of the torpedoed SS Arcata. The morning of 3 August 1942, she found her antiaircraft guns of little use against two attacks by high-altitude Japanese 4-engine bombers. Skillful maneuvering and speed saved the plucky destroyer from bombs which fell in her wake. She continued patrol and escort duty in Alaskan and Aleutian sectors until February 1942, then was converted to a high speed transport by Todd's Dry Docks, Seattle, Wash., and reclassified APD-18. Conversion was completed by 3 April 1943 when she departed for amphibious training with the Army's 7th infantry in Monterey Bay, Calif.
Kane departed San Francisco 24 April and arrived in Cold Bay 30 April to prepare for the recapture of Attu, Aleutian Islands. The morning of 11 May, submarines Narwhal and Nautilus landed 100 Army Scouts northwest of Holtz Bay. Several hours later Kane was coached in through blinding fog by battleship Pennsylvania's radar to land 400 reconnaissance troops, who then joined the scouts.
During the bitter ground fighting on Attu, Kane served as evacuation hospital transport and shuttled medical supplies between Holtz and Massacre Bay. Off the entrance to Dutch Harbor 17 July, she received 12 survivors of the Russian Seiner No. 2. Following amphibious exercises off Amchitka Island, she landed elements of the Army's 1st Special Service Force on Kiska 14 August and later on Little Kiska Islands. But the Japanese had evacuated under cover of fog, leaving a few mongrel dogs as sole inhabitants. This marked the end of the last Japanese hold in the Aleutians. Kane remained on duty between Alaskan and Aleutian ports until 20 November 1943, then steamed south for an overhaul in the Mare Island Navy Yard until 7 January 1944.
Kane arrived in Pearl Harbor 18 January 1944 to join the 5th Amphibious Force for the capture of the Marshalls. Her Marine escort secured the channel islets at the entrance of Majuro Lagoon the night of 30 to 31 January 1944 and later took the islands on the east side of Kwajalein Lagoon. She sailed 25 February to help screen amphibious landing ships for the invasion of Milne Bay, New Guinea, then entered Seeadler Harbor, Manus, as the 7th Cavalry Regiment took the remaining strong point In the Admiralties. The high speed transport landed men of the 163d Infantry at Aitape 22 April 1944, and bombarded enemy positions before withdrawing to pound Ali Island. After escorting a convoy to the Solomons she returned to Pearl Harbor 23 May 1944.
After training out of Pearl Harbor and preparations at Eniwetok, Kane landed Marines for the invasion of Saipan 15 June 1944. After the fast carriers of the 5th Fleet destroyed Japan's carrier-based airpower in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the transport supported Underwater Demolition Team 4 in operations off Saipan. On 23 June she dodged an aerial bomb that sprayed her with shrapnel and wounded three men. She replenished at Eniwetok, then entered Agat Bay, Guam, the afternoon of 17 July. The Japanese had planted three lines of palm-log cribs filled with coral rocks, linked each to the other by wire cables. Her "naked warriors" of Underwater Demolition Team 4, assisted by other teams, blew up hundreds of these obstacles, clearing the way for the marines, who landed 21 July 1944. On 24 July, as the frogmen worked into the night, Japanese mortar fire in Agat Bay barely missed Kane. She returned to Pearl Harbor 10 August 1944 but entered Leyte Gulf 18 October carrying 100 tons of demolition explosives to be used in clearing the way for the Leyte Invasion landings 2 days later. She carried her demolition teams to the Admiralty Islands, then set course for home and an overhaul arriving San Pedro, Calif., 4 December.
Kane departed San Diego 20 April 1945 to train Underwater Demolition Team 24 in Hawaiian waters until 4 May, then arrived off Kerama Retto 12 June. After escorting hospital Solace (AH-5) out of the combat zone, she patrolled the southwest anchorage of Ilinawa and fought off two suicide planes 21 June. A week later she sailed with a convoy bound for Leyte. She became a unit of the Philippine Sea Frontier on 4 July and patrolled the shipping lanes leading eastward guarding against submarines until the close of hostilities.
Kane departed San Pedro Bay, Leyte, 13 September escorting Occupation troops to Korea, arriving Jinsen 17 September. Thereafter she became an unofficial receiving ship and handled communications for the Jinsen representative of the 7th Amphibious Force. Relieved 12 November 1945, she headed for home arrived San Diego 13 December 1945. After sending 149 Navy veterans ashore, she transited the Panama Canal for the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she decommissioned 24 January 1946. She was sold for scrapping 21 June 1946 to Northern Metals Co., Philadelphia.
Kane received seven battle stars for service in World War II.