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USS Tarazed (AF-13) at Boston, Mass. on 19 May 1942.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class:        MIZAR (AF-12)
Design:        Refrig. P&C, 1931
Displacement (tons):        7,098 light, 11,875 lim.
Dimensions (feet):        447.8' oa, 430.0' wl, 415.0' pp x 60.0' e x 26.0' lim.
Original Armament:        1-5"/51 4-3"/50 (1941-42: AF 12, 13, 15, 17, 22)
Later armaments:        1-5"/51 4-3"/50 4<8-20mm (all, 1942-44);
1-5"/51 3-3"/50 12-20mm (AF 13, 21, 22; 1944-45);
1-5"/38 4-3"/50 8-20mm (AF-12, 1945)
241 (1944)
Speed (kts):        18
Propulsion (HP):        11,000
Machinery:        G.E. turbo-electric drive, 2 screws


AF Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
12 MIZAR 2 Jun 41 Bethlehem Steel, Quincy 14 May 31 6 Feb 32 14 Jun 41
13 TARAZED 4 Jun 41 Newport News SB & DD 1931 14 Nov 31 14 Jun 41
15 TALAMANCA 28 Jan 42 Newport News SB & DD 1931 15 Aug 31 28 Jan 42
17 ANTIGUA -- Bethlehem Steel, Quincy 30 Apr 31 12 Dec 31 --
21 MERAK 20 Mar 42 Bethlehem Steel, Quincy 1931 23 Apr 32 8 May 42
22 ARIEL 24 Mar 42 Newport News SB & DD 1931 15 Aug 31 14 May 42


AF Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
12 MIZAR 1 Apr 46 17 Apr 46 1 Apr 46 RTO --
13 TARAZED 4 Jan 46 21 Jan 46 4 Jan 46 RTO --
15 TALAMANCA 29 Nov 45 19 Dec 45 29 Nov 45 RTO --
17 ANTIGUA -- -- 22 May 44 Canc. --
21 MERAK 21 Jun 46 3 Jul 46 21 Jun 46 RTO --
22 ARIEL 21 Jun 46 3 Jul 46 21 Jun 46 RTO --

Class Notes:

FY 1941 (AF 12-13), 1942 (AF 15, 21-22), 1943 (AF-17). In 1930 the United Fruit Company took advantage of the Jones-White Act of 1928 and ordered six new luxury steamers for its passenger and banana services between the United States and the Caribbean. The act, which provided mail subsidies as an incentive for shipping companies to build their ships in U.S. shipyards and man them with U.S. crews, came at a good time for United Fruit, whose twelve popular white "5,000 tonners" were reaching the end of their service lives. The six new ships, also painted white and nicknamed "mail boats" because of their legislative origin, quickly became successful after their entry into service in 1931-1933. The three ships built by Bethlehem Quincy were to operate on the company's East Coast route and the three Newport News ships on the West Coast route, although this plan was not fully implemented. There were slight differences between the products of the two shipyards, mostly on the promenade deck where the Quincy ships had a wider midships house and a shorter glass-enclosed area. The specifications recorded by the Navy for the two groups varied only slightly, the main variations from the data above being 446.8' length (for AF-15 and 22), 60.25' beam (for AF-22), and 19k speed (for AF-21).

All six "mail boats" appeared on the Navy List during World War II, but the first two were acquired only after complex bureaucratic maneuvering between the Navy, which wanted refrigerated C2s, and the Maritime Commission, which wanted to limit the impact of Naval acquisitions on the modern merchant marine that it was trying to build. On 19 Dec 40 the Navy notified the MC that it required three more Provision Store Ships and that these were to be C2s with refrigeration. A program for acquisition of new auxiliaries approved by the Secretary of the Navy on 15 Jan 41 included these three ships. In subsequent discussions this requirement was reduced to two ships, but the navy specified that these be MC hulls 128 and 129, steam-propelled refrigerated C2s then under construction for commercial use at Federal. On 15 May 41 the Navy notified the MC that it now had an immediate requirement for three additional refrigerator ships, which were to be C2s of the same class as POLARIS (AF-11) and which were needed by 1 Aug 41. The Maritime Commission staunchly resisted the Navy's various requests, and the deadlock was only broken by a 26 May 41 directive from President Roosevelt for Maritime to acquire and turn over to the Navy immediately two of the United Fruit "mail boats," QUIRIGUA and CHIRIQUI. These were given new Navy names, were designated AF 12-13, and after receiving a limited conversion were ready well before the 1 Aug 41 deadline. They plus AF-14 accounted for three of the 5 AFs in the combined Navy requirements of December 1940 and May 1941.

In December 1941 the Navy negotiated with the Maritime Commission (WSA) for the indefinite time chartering of the "mail boats" TALAMANCA and ANTIGUA plus the two ships of the CALAMARES class (q.v.). These ships received hull numbers (AF 15-18) and Navy names (their mercantile ones, retained) on 27 Dec 41. TALAMANCA and ANTIGUA received 30-day limited conversions for operation under time charter beginning in mid-late December 1941 at the Maryland Drydock Co., Fairfield, Baltimore, Md. The conversions were similar to those being done on merchant ships being armed except that the gun installation was somewhat more elaborate. On 10 Jan 42 the Auxiliary Vessels Board approved a recommendation from the Director of the Naval Transportation Service that these four ships be acquired on bareboat charter when the Bureau of Navigation could furnish Navy crews for them. AF-15 was manned by a naval crew in January 1942, at which time she was acquired and commissioned. Similar action was deferred, however, for ANTIGUA (AF-17), which, as of May 1942 was no longer under time charter but was instead under bareboat charter to WSA who allocated her to the Navy for exclusive use. (A United Fruit crew operated her under a General Agency Agreement.) By November 1942 the Navy had overcome its manpower crisis but had difficulty getting operational commanders to make such ships available for the manning change. The acquisition of ANTIGUA under bareboat charter and her full conversion to AF was directed by the Auxiliary Vessels Board on 29 Sep 42 and by the VCNO on 17 Feb 43, but COMSERVPAC responded immediately to the 1942 proposal by recommending the conversion be postponed, and the ship evidently missed a scheduled conversion availability in early 1943 because of operational commitments and because civilian operation was meeting requirements. As a result, ANTIGUA remained a "U. S. Naval Store Ship" with a civilian crew throughout the war. Her acquisition was cancelled for the record by a phone call on 26 May 44 following a decision by the Auxiliary Vessels Board on 22 May 44 that all directives for her acquisition and manning be cancelled.

In March 1942 WSA allocated the remaining two "mail boats," VERAGUA and JAMAICA (AF 21-22) to the Navy under bareboat charter to complete fulfillment of the Navy's AF requirements of December 1940 and May 1941. The Bureau of Navigation was able to provide naval crews immediately, allowing the Navy to dispense with its plans to operate them initially with civilian crews. Both received new Navy names, and AF-22 received a second one because the originally-assigned name, DIONE, was already borne by a Coast Guard cutter.

Ship Notes:
AF Name Notes
12 MIZAR Ex merc. QUIRIGUA (ID-4876C, completed May 32). Converted by Brewer DD, Staten Is., N.Y. Merc. QUIRIGUA 1946. Scrapped 1964 as SAMALA.
13 TARAZED Ex merc. CHIRIQUI (ID-4876, completed Mar 32). Converted by Brewer DD, Staten Is., N.Y. Merc. CHIRIQUI 1946. Scrapped 1969 as BLEXEN.
15 TALAMANCA Ex merc. TALAMANCA (ID-4876A, completed Dec 31). Taken over under indefinite time charter 16 Dec 41 and converted by Maryland DD, Baltimore, Md. (Dec 41-Jan 42). Acquired under bareboat charter 28 Jan 42. Merc. TALAMANCA 1945. Scrapped 1964 as SULACO.
17 ANTIGUA Merc. ANTIGUA (ID-4876D, completed Mar 32). Taken over under indefinite time charter 28 Dec 41 (accepted 26 Dec.) and converted by Maryland DD, Baltimore, Md. (Dec 41-Jan 42). Acquisition directive cancelled 22 May 44. Scrapped 1964 as TORTUGA.
21 MERAK Ex merc. VERAGUA (ID-4876B, completed Jul 32). Converted by Todd Galveston DD, Galveston, Tex. Merc. VERAGUA 1946. Scrapped 1964 as SINALOA.
22 ARIEL Ex USS DIONE 28 Apr 42. Ex merc. JAMAICA (ID-4867), ex PETEN 1937, ex SEGOVIA 1932 (burned while fitting out 9 Dec 31 and renamed, completed Feb 33). Converted by Todd Galveston DD, Galveston, Tex. Merc. JAMAICA 1946. BU 1969 as BLUMENTHAL.

Page Notes:
AF        1941

Compiled:        15-Sep-2001
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2001