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USS Cuyama (Fuel Ship No. 15) circa March 1917
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class:        CUYAMA (AO-3)
Design        Navy AO-3
Displacement (tons):        5,950 light, 14,800 full
Dimensions (feet):        475.6' oa, 455.0' pp x 56.0' mld x 26.7' mn, 27.75 mx
Original Armament:        4-5"/50 (AO-3)
Later armaments:        None (1919: AO-4);
4-5"/51 2-3"/50 (1920-21: AO 5-6, 1932: AO-4, 1942: AO-3);
4-5"/51 2-3"/23 (1941: AO-3);
4-5"/51 4-3"/50 (1941-42: AO 4-5);
2-5"/51 4-3"/50 8<10-20mm (1942-43: AO 3-4);
2-5"/51 4-40mmS 10-20mm (1943: AO-3); 2-5"/51 10-20mm (1944: AO-3);
2-5"/38 4-40mmT 10-20mm (1944: AO 3-4)
Complement        145 (1929)
Speed (kts.):        14
Propulsion (HP):        5,200
Machinery:        Vertical triple expansion, 2 screws

AO Name Ord. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
3 CUYAMA 19 Apr 15 NYd Mare Island 15 Dec 15 17 Jun 16 2 Apr 17
4 BRAZOS 29 Aug 16 NYd Boston 21 Jun 17 1 May 19 1 Oct 19
5 NECHES 2 Jul 18 NYd Boston 28 Jun 19 2 Jun 20 25 Oct 20
6 PECOS 18 Jul 18 NYd Boston 2 Jun 20 23 Apr 21 25 Aug 21

AO Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
3 CUYAMA 12 Apr 46 3 Jul 46 1 Jul 46 MC/D 10 Sep 47
4 BRAZOS 8 Feb 46 26 Feb 46 1 Jul 46 MC/D 27 Nov 46
5 NECHES -- 25 Mar 42 23 Jan 42 Lost --
6 PECOS -- 8 May 42 1 Mar 42 Lost --

Class Notes:
FY 1916 (AO-3, act of 3 Mar 15), 1917 (AO-4, act of 29 Aug 16), 1919 (5-6, act of 1 Jul 18). On 9 May 14 the General Board submitted to the Secretary of the Navy characteristics common to all fleet auxiliaries that it felt should be incorporated in any auxiliary authorized for Fiscal Year 1916. The auxiliaries referred to included ammunition, fuel, hospital, repair, and supply ships, destroyer and submarine tenders, and transports. Speed was to be 14 knots sustained, steaming radius was to be 8,000 miles at 10 knots, and twin screws were to be housed under the stern. The battery was to consist of 5" guns of contemporary design. The special type characteristics recommended for fuel ships, submitted on the same date, called for a total fuel oil capacity, including bunker supply, of 9,100 tons, provision to carry either coal or oil in some of the holds with efficient discharging apparatus, space for about 200 tons of general stores and magazine capacity for 500 tons of cargo ammunition, and an armament of 4 5-inch guns. The capacity for cargo fuel oil (excluding bunkers) was later rated at 7,455 tons oil and 597t gasoline.

One new fuel ship (AO-3) was included in the FY 1916 appropriation act. The Naval Appropriation Act for FY 1917 that became law on 29 Aug 16 authorized a three-year building program of ten battleships, six battle cruisers, ten scout cruisers, fifty torpedo-boat destroyers, nine fleet submarines, fifty-eight coast submarines, one experimental (Neff) submarine, and two gunboats. To support these combatants it also authorized three fuel ships (oilers), one repair ship, one transport, one hospital ship, two destroyer tenders, one fleet submarine tender, and two ammunition ships. Sixty-six of these ships including one fuel ship (AO-4), the hospital ship, and one ammunition ship were to be begun during FY 1917, the others were to be funded and begun during the following two fiscal years. AO 5-6 were funded in FY 1919 (Act of 1 Jul 18).

Two important changes were made in CUYAMA (AO-3) during construction. The specifications for FY 1917 fuel ships issued by the General Board on 25 Aug 15 deleted the requirement to carry coal, and this change was applied to CUYAMA as well. Experience at sea with KANAWHA after her commissioning in June 1915 probably showed the desirability of moving the bridge house aft from its position very close to the bow. This was not possible in a collier with extensive coal handling gear over its hatches, but it was possible in a tanker without such gear and this change was also made, probably during 1916. On 5 Jul 16 the General Board approved the suggestion of the Bureau of Construction and Repair to duplicate CUYAMA in building the FY 1917 fuel ship (BRAZOS, AO-4). The specifications for FY 1918 ships issued on 19 Oct 16 added 2-3"AA guns to the armament and a pair of platforms was added amidships for these on the last three ships (including BRAZOS). On 1 Jun 18 the General Board asked that BuC&R report all additions or modifications made in CUYAMA or BRAZOS that departed from its characteristics of 19 Oct 16 and the Bureau replied that none had been made. On 3 Aug 18 BuOrd asked what guns were planned for the last two ships. These were also to be duplicates of CUYAMA which had 4-5"/50 guns, but there were no more 5"/50 guns available and BuOrd wanted to fit them with 5"/51s CNO approved the revised armament on 24 Aug 18. On 7 Jan 19 BuOrd informed CNO that BRAZOS was being built for 5"/50 guns and, since no more of these were being built, the Bureau wanted to change her to 5"/51s as well. SecNav approved the change on 17 Jan 19. However on 2 Sep 19 the Department approved deferring the 5" and 3" gun and magazine installation in BRAZOS to save money, and BRAZOS became the only ship of the class to enter service without armament. Her armament was installed in 1932.

Ship Notes:
AO Name Notes
3 CUYAMA Ex Fuel Ship No. 15 1920. To buyer 6 Oct 47, scrapped by 25 Nov 47.
4 BRAZOS Ex Fuel Ship No. 16 1920. To buyer 6 Jan 47, scrapped by 18 Feb 47.
5 NECHES Ex Fuel Ship No. 17 1920. Torpedoed by Japanese submarine south of Kaui, Hawaii.
6 PECOS Ex Fuel Ship No. 18 1920. Sunk by Japanese aircraft south of Java.

Page Notes:
AO        1915
Compiled:        04 Sep 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012