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USS Jason (Fuel Ship No. 12) circa 1913
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class:        ORION (Fleet Collier No. 11)
Design        Navy Fleet Collier No.11
Displacement (tons):        5,100 light, 19,250 full
Dimensions (feet):        536.0' oa, 514.0' wl and pp x 65.0' mld x 27.7' mn
Original Armament:        4-4"/50 (1916/17)
Later armaments:        --
Complement:        104 (civ.)
Speed (kts.):        14.47
Propulsion (HP):        6,943
Machinery:        Vert. 3-exp., 2 screws

AC Name Ord. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
11 ORION 22 Aug 11 Maryland Steel 6 Oct 11 23 Mar 12 29 Jul 12
12 JASON 22 Aug 11 Maryland Steel 26 Mar 12 16 Nov 12 26 Jun 13

AC Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
11 ORION 18 Jun 26 10 Jul 31 30 Aug 33 Sold --
12 JASON 30 Jun 32 19 May 36 29 Jul 36 Sold --

Class Notes:
FY 1912. On 4 Mar 11 Congress authorized the construction of another pair of fleet colliers of 14 knots trial speed, when carrying not less than 12,500 tons of cargo and bunker coal, to cost not exceeding $1,000,000 each. The contract plans and specifications were completed and circular signed by the Acting Secretary of the Navy on 13 Apr 11 for subsequent issue to bidders. Bids were opened on 20 Jun 11 at the same time as those for Colliers Nos. 9 and 10. The Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. offered to build the ships in 22 months for $974,500 each if also awarded the contracts for colliers Nos. 9 and 10, but instead the Maryland Steel Co. of Sparrows Point, Md., was awarded a contract on 18 Jul 11 to build the two ships with hull and machinery to the bidder's design for delivery in 24 months at a price of $951,000 each. The price was based on building them with the new Isherwood (longitudinal) system of hull framing; they would have cost $973,000 with conventional transverse framing. The contract was signed on 22 Aug 11.

The hulls of the ships were constructed on the Isherwood system, which used large widely-spaced transverse frames (ribs) in conjunction with light closely-spaced longitudinal members in the bottom and sides of the ship in place of the series of transverse frames spaced closely together used in the traditional system. These were the first Navy ships built on the Isherwood system. There were four cargo oil-fuel tanks forward between the forecastle and the bridge. The bridge structure had two levels, a flying bridge with ship control equipment and a semi-enclosed lower bridge also equipped with ship control equipment. The six cargo (coal) holds and the topside trimming tanks extended from a watertight bulkhead under the bridge to one at the forward end of the poop. Each of the holds had two large transverse hatches except the forward one which was only half the size of the others and had only one large hatch. The poop deck had hatches for the bunker coal and most of the crew accommodations. As built the ships' cargo capacity was 11,500 tons of coal and 2,575 tons of oil in addition to 2,300 tons of bunker coal for their own use. Like the other big colliers these ships were self-trimmed by using topside water ballast tanks located outboard of the coal cargo holds in addition to the usual double-bottom tanks. The topside trimming tanks were filled as necessary by the ballast pump and drained overboard by gravity.

The Lidgerwood coal handling gear was similar to that in NEPTUNE and JUPITER. It was supported by seven “A” frames and the bridge. A small supporting frame was also worked in between the smokestacks. The tops of the “A” frames were connected by a girder running fore and aft which, for each hatch, supported a block and a fall line that provided vertical support to a swinging block from which a self-loading clamshell coal bucket was hung. For each hatch a pair of booms was extended over each side of the ship, and through pulleys at the ends of these booms ran two ropes attached to opposite sides of the swinging block that controlled its lateral motion. Power was supplied by two winches, one for hoisting the bucket and one for swinging it. Skilled operators could conduct the hoisting and swinging simultaneously producing the shortest possible operating cycle. The fore-and-aft girder also supported a horizontal track for a bucket that was used for transferring coal between holds. All of the “A” frames except the aftermost one supported two booms on each side. The after “A” frame, which was on the poop and formed the base of the main mast, served only the after bunker hatch and had only one boom per side. The ship had 24 Lidgerwood coaling winches, four under each of the forward five “A” frames and two under each of the last two, providing one bucket winch and one swinging (vertical support) winch for each hatch including the after bunker hatch. The coal was handled by clamshell buckets with a capacity of 1.6 cubic yards. The contractors guaranteed a discharging capacity of 100 tons per hour per hatch, making a total of 11,000 tons per hour when discharging from all hatches simultaneously. ORION discharged over 137 tons per bucket per hour on trials, although the trial report indicated that the gear had to be operated by trained “intelligent” men and that the extensive gear required considerable time to rig.

ORION conducted a full-power dock trial on 30 May 12, a builder's trial in Chesapeake Bay on 27 Jun 12, and contract trials in early July. She was delivered and preliminarily accepted on 24 Jul 12 over a year ahead of the contract time. ORION establishing a new world's record for rapid ship construction by being launched five months and 17 days after keel laying and JASON followed her on the same building ways. The ships were initially placed in service with civilian crews commanded by licensed masters as part of the Naval Auxiliary Service. On 7 May 17 the Navy directed that all Naval Auxiliaries that had previously been manned by civilian officers and crews be placed on a naval status and manned by naval crews, who in practice were often civilian seamen enrolled in the Naval Reserve. As of 1 Mar 14 the large colliers had an allowance of 13 officers and 91 men. The ORION class, however, was built to accommodate 25 officers and 152 men, possibly anticipating the larger crews that would be carried when the ship was Navy manned. The officers' quarters were finished in oak and the crews' in cypress.

JASON gained some unusual publicity for herself and her Lidgerwood marine transfers in late 1914 when she carried to Europe a cargo of Christmas presents given by United States organizations to orphans in war-torn Europe. Each cargo load was hoisted in a sling from a warehouse, swung over a hatch, and lowered to a precise position in the hold by one man using a marine transfer without the bucket. The ability to deposit loads at several points in the hold meant that two or three gangs of stevedores could be employed in each hold, and the handling of the cargo for a hatch was done by one man instead of the two or three required by earlier types of cargo gear.

On 2 Dec 25 ORION ran aground off Cape Henry, Virginia, while heavily loaded. Her hull buckled amidships and she also incurred damage to the flat keel, vertical keel, lower framing, and five adjacent strakes of shell plating between about 25 feet and 90 feet aft of the bow. After buckling, however, the hull withstood the bending moment of ten-foot waves. The ship reached the Norfolk Navy Yard in badly damaged condition and with a large port list and entered a drydock on 3 Dec 25. Temporary reinforcements were attached to some of the damaged areas and the ship was decommissioned in June 1926 and laid up. She was later moved to the Shipping Board anchorage in the James River off Mulberry Point where, in 1933, she was offered for sale. On 5 Sep 33 the Norfolk Navy Yard directed that ORION be delivered to a representative of the Union Shipbuilding Co., Baltimore, Md., her purchaser.

JASON provided transport and fueling services in the Pacific until 2 May 25, when she departed Pearl Harbor for service supporting the aircraft squadrons of the Asiatic Fleet. Upon arrival she relieved AJAX (AC-14) which had been providing improvised support to the aircraft since their arrival in February 1924. JASON underwent no conversion and probably used her coaling booms to lift the aircraft of Torpedo and Bombing Squadron 20 (later VT-5A) onto and off the hatch covers of her coal holds where they were serviced and stowed. She was supported by the small tenders HERON and AVOCET (later AVP-2 and 4, q.v.) and later also supported a scouting plane squadron, VS-8A. Each squadron had six aircraft. The aircraft had been sent to the Philippines as much for political as for military reasons, and they had to be based on ships as arms limitation treaties forbade their being based ashore. In early 1932 the aircraft and two of their three tenders were withdrawn, leaving only HERON and two observation planes at Manila. JASON returned to San Diego on 13 May 32 and decommissioned at the Bremerton Navy Yard at the end of June.

Ship Notes:
AC Name Notes
11 ORION Damaged in grounding 2 Dec 25. Sold to Union Shipbuilding Co., Baltimore, for scrapping.
12 JASON Recomm. 7 Oct 14. To AV-2 21 Jan 30. Sold to American S.S. Co., Buffalo, N.Y., merc. JASON. Scrapped at Baltimore 1948.

Page Notes:
AC        1911
Compiled:        11 Aug 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012