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USS Shasta (AE-6) on 26 October 1943.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class:        LASSEN (AE-3)
Design:        MC C2 (Tampa) and C2-T
Displacement (tons):        6,350 light, 14,225 lim.
Dimensions (feet):        459.0' oa, 435.0' pp x 63.0' e x 26.4' lim.
Original Armament:        1-5"/51 4-3"/23 (1942: AE 3-4)
Later armaments:        1-5"/51 4-3"/23 4-20mm (1942: AE-3);
1-5"/51 4-3"/50 (1942: AE-5); 1-5"/51 4-3"/50 4<8-20mm (1942: AE 3-6); 1-5"/51 4-3"/50 2-1.1"Q 8-20mm (1942: AE 3-6); 1-5"/51 4-3"/50 2-1.1"Q 10-20mm (1944: AE-5);
1-5"/38 4-3"/50 2-1.1"Q 8-20mm (1945: AE-6); 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 2-40mmT 8<10-20mm (1945: AE 3-4); 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 2-40mmT 6>4-20mm (1951-55: AE 4-6); 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 2-40mmT (1957: AE-5); 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 1-20mmS (1959: AE-6);
4-3”/50 (1957-63, AE 4-6)
Complement:        
270 (1944)
Speed (kts):        15.3
Propulsion (HP):        6,000
Machinery:        Nordberg diesel (TSM219), 1 screw

Construction:

AE Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
3 LASSEN 14 Nov 40 Tampa SB 24 Sep 38 10 Jan 40 23 Mar 41
4 KILAUEA 14 Nov 40 Tampa SB 6 Nov 39 6 Aug 40 16 May 41
5 RAINIER 16 Apr 41 Tampa SB 14 May 40 1 Mar 41 21 Dec 41
6 SHASTA 16 Apr 41 Tampa SB 12 Aug 40 9 Jul 41 20 Jan 42

Disposition:
AE Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
3 LASSEN 15 Jan 47 1 Jul 61 1 Oct 62 MA/T 16 Mar 76
4 KILAUEA 2 Dec 69 2 Dec 69 15 Mar 74 MA/S 15 Mar 74
5 RAINIER 7 Aug 70 7 Aug 70 1 Sep 71 MA/T 7 Sep 71
6 SHASTA 1 Jul 69 1 Jul 69 3 Mar 70 MA/S 3 Mar 70

Class Notes:
FY 1941. On 27 Sep 33 the Secretary of the Navy wrote to the Navy's General Board, stating that the latest military characteristics of naval auxiliaries had been drawn up in 1914-1917 and directing that these characteristics be brought up to date in preparation for the impending expansion of the combatant fleet. Ammunition ships (AE) were among the eight types of large auxiliaries that had been built during World War I, and on 8 Jan 35 the General Board promulgated new characteristics that called for a twin-screw AE with a sustained speed of 16.5 knots, an endurance of 10,000 miles at maximum sustained speed, and an armament of four 5-inch or 6-inch single purpose guns. The ship's cargo capacity and ammunition facilities were to be generally similar to NITRO and the new ship was also to have torpedo protection equal to NITRO. The Commanding Officer of NITRO (AE-2) had advised the Board on 21 Dec 33 that NITRO and her sister PYRO had been very well planned in the first place and that there was not much that one would want to change in their general design besides taking advantage of advances in main propulsion engineering and in radio. However the new construction auxiliaries of the 1930s were intended mainly to support the expanding peacetime fleet, and a combination of limited funding and low priority relative to other auxiliary types kept AE's out of the annual peacetime building programs.

The Navy's war plans called for wartime requirements for auxiliaries to be handled by conversions of merchant ships rather than by new construction, and as the world crisis deepened the Navy turned to its extensive prewar mobilization studies of the U. S. merchant marine for new AE's. On 22 Jun 39 the Bureau of Construction and Repair circulated to the other bureaus preliminary plans for converting the six "banana boats" of United Fruit's CHIRIQUI (ID-4876) class (see the AF-12 class) to ammunition ships. The completed conversion plans were distributed on 29 Feb 40 to the Naval Districts for retention in their mobilization files. On 20 Jun 40 SecNav asked the Maritime Commission for 18 auxiliaries, including two cargo ships (AK) and two ammunition ships (AE) of the C2 type. These conversions were included in a large group of auxiliaries whose construction or acquisition was directed on 5 Aug 40 in the 70% Expansion Program (the second increment of the Two Ocean Navy mobilization effort) along with many combatant ships. Preliminary conversion plans were circulated within the Navy Department on 25 Jun 40 for turbine C2's and on 30 Dec 40 for diesel C2's.

In May and June 1938 the Maritime Commission had awarded its first contracts for cargo ships, which followed one passenger liner and twelve large tankers. It ordered twenty ships (MC hulls 14-33) designated simply C2-Cargo from four shipyards: three existing (Federal, Sun, and Newport News) and one essentially new (the Tampa Shipbuilding and Engineering Co.). Half of these fast (15.5 knot), medium-sized, standard-design freighters were propelled by steam turbines, and half (including those from Tampa) were diesel propelled. The Maritime Commission ordered these ships on its own account in accordance with its plans for a rejuvenated American merchant marine and with the intent of finding commercial operators for them as they approached completion. Tampa became a test case for the Commission's efforts to expand American merchant shipbuilding: in 1938 it was a little-known Southern concern with three building ways which had built ships during World War I but whose facilities had later been burned over and which was practically bankrupt. The Commission accepted its bid partly to beat down the prices of the better established firms. Tampa encountered severe labor problems, but the Commission persisted and in October 1939 awarded a follow-on contract for four more ships to an almost identical design, designated C2-T (the T indicating Tampa). The yard's problems continued, ultimately resulting in the default of the company and imposition of new management by the Maritime Commission. The Maritime Commission's effort to keep the Tampa shipyard in operation was facilitated by the Navy's need for auxiliary ships. The Navy expressed a preference for steam propelled ships but the Tampa ships otherwise matched the Navy's requirements, and the Commission, in an arrangement that later triggered a Congressional investigation, arranged for the Navy to purchase on 14 Nov 40 the three incomplete ships from its first contract with Tampa at high prices that enabled the yard to pay all its debts. The ships became AE 3-4 and AK-19 (later AKA-2). Tampa delivered AE 3-4 to Mobile, Ala., for conversion and converted AK-19 itself.

On 15 Jan 41 SecNav approved a program for the acquisition of 17 more auxiliaries including another two AKs and two AEs. The Maritime Commission initially resisted the Navy's request, fearing the impact of large Navy requests on the Commission's primary tasks of satisfying the U.S. need for sealift in wartime and providing lend lease ships to the British, but on 16 Apr 41 it turned over to the Navy all four ships in its second contract with Tampa. These became AE 5-6 and AK 20-21 (later AKA 3-4). At the same time, as part of a realignment of shipyards between the naval and merchant shipbuilding programs, the Maritime Commission turned the Tampa yard over to the Navy. A day later, on 17 Apr 41, the Navy issued a contract to Tampa for the completion of the four ships and the preliminary conversion of AE 5-6 and the full conversion of AK 20-21 to naval auxiliaries. The remainder of the conversion of AE 5-6 was to have been carried out by the Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Co. in Mobile, Ala., which had previously converted AE 3-4, but the Tampa shipyard ultimately did the whole job. Tampa went on to build under Navy contracts three more C2s (AE 8-9 and 13) and a sizeable number of other auxiliaries and combatants.

KILAUEA (AE-4) was renamed to avoid confusion with KAILUA (IX-71). The ship's history notes that "the old name, although painted over, was left on the stern. The vessel had been very fortunate while sailing under that name and there were none so bold as to chip off that well-favored name."

Ship Notes:
AE Name MC# Notes
3 LASSEN 23 Ex merc. SHOOTING STAR (ID-5005A). Was complete when purchased 14 Nov 40. Converted by Alabama DD & SB, Mobile, Ala. (in commission in ordinary there for conversion 19 Nov 40, the date of her arrival at Mobile). In USN reserve 1946-60. To NDRF 30 Aug 60, to buyer 26 Apr 76.
4 KILAUEA 24 Ex merc. SURPRISE (ID-5005B). Was incomplete when purchased 14 Nov 40. Converted by Alabama DD & SB, Mobile, Ala. (in commission in ordinary there for conversion 20 Mar 41, the date of her arrival and acceptance at Mobile). Renamed MOUNT BAKER 17 Mar 43. In USN reserve 1946-51. To NDRF 21 May 70, to buyer 23 Apr 74.
5 RAINIER 124 Ex merc. RAINBOW. In USN reserve 1946-51. To NDRF 17 Nov 70, to buyer 20 Sep 71.
6 SHASTA 125 Ex merc. COMET. In USN reserve 1946-53, to buyer 1 Apr 70.

Page Notes:
AE        1940
Compiled:        15-Sep-2001
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2001