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USS PCER-856 circa November 1944.
The PCER was the final result of the APR program, but it was not an APR. No APR design was produced and no illustrations exist.
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Class:        ADAIR (APR-1)
Design:        Navy APR-1
Displacement (tons):        --
Dimensions (feet):        --
Original Armament:        --
Later armaments:        --
Complement:        --
Speed (kts.):
Propulsion (HP):
Machinery:        --

APR Name Ord. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
1 ADAIR -- Not ordered -- -- --
2 BERKSHIRE -- Not ordered -- -- --
3 BURLEIGH -- Not ordered -- -- --
4 CECIL -- Not ordered -- -- --
5 DUTCHESS -- Not ordered -- -- --
6 LORAIN -- Not ordered -- -- --
7 DOUGLAS -- Not ordered -- -- --
8 MENDOCINO -- Not ordered -- -- --
9 MONTOUR -- Not ordered -- -- --
10 NAPA -- Not ordered -- -- --
11 WESTMORELAND -- Not ordered -- -- --

APR Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
1 ADAIR -- -- 12 Mar 43 Canc. --
2 BERKSHIRE -- -- 12 Mar 43 Canc. --
3 BURLEIGH -- -- 12 Mar 43 Canc. --
4 CECIL -- -- 12 Mar 43 Canc. --
5 DUTCHESS -- -- 12 Mar 43 Canc. --
6 LORAIN -- -- 12 Mar 43 Canc. --
7 DOUGLAS -- -- 12 Mar 43 Canc. --
8 MENDOCINO -- -- 12 Mar 43 Canc. --
9 MONTOUR -- -- 12 Mar 43 Canc. --
10 NAPA -- -- 12 Mar 43 Canc. --
11 WESTMORELAND -- -- 12 Mar 43 Canc. --

Class and Ship Notes:
On 23 Sep 41 the U.S. Special Naval Observer in London wrote to CNO recommending the procurement of eleven convoy rescue vessels like the small merchantmen being used by the British. He reported that these vessels had been instrumental in saving hundreds of lives and had helped inspire confidence among crews in the convoy system. Desirable characteristics included sheltered space for 75-100 rescued personnel, a sick bay with one surgeon and two pharmacists mates, some small and handy boats plus rescue baskets and nets, a range of up to 4,500 miles at convoy speed with a possible speed of 12 knots for short periods, a full scale merchant ship defensive armament, and empty drums to be stowed in suitable spaces to increase buoyancy. On 8 Oct 41 the Navy referred this information to the MC, which responded to CNO on 5 Nov 41 that it was considering a design of a small vessel that could be used for this purpose and that if such ships were considered essential the MC would be able to deliver some in a reasonable period of time. On 14 Nov 41 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended that the Navy certify to the MC the need for these rescue vessels. Returning to this issue on 15 Jan 42, the Board reported that the MC had told it that it now had on hand a proprietary design for a wooden ship which substantially met the desired characteristics but had neither the funds nor facilities to build the ships. The Board recommended that the Bureau of Ships obtain the plans from the MC and build 11 of the ships. On 19 Jan 42 the CNO, Adm. Harold R. Stark, initialed a memorandum that directed the construction of 584 small combatants plus 40 rescue tugs (ATR) and 11 rescue vessels. The new symbol APR, for Rescue Transports, was approved on 11 Feb 42.

After considering a number of options, including a Destroyer Escort (DE) with special rescue fittings instead of depth charges and torpedoes, the Bureau of Ships informed CNO on 17 Mar 42 that the design referred to by the MC was in fact very incomplete and not in condition to be used for the construction of the ships. BuShips suggested three alternatives, of which it preferred the use of converted large yachts. VCNO rejected all three options on 16 Apr 42 and directed that BuShips proceed with the development of plans but not proceed with construction without further orders from VCNO. VCNO also stated "it is not desired that development of these plans should delay similar work on combatant types." Progress on the APR's after this was limited to the assignment of names for the 11 ships, which were approved as part of a long list of new ship names on 23 Aug 42. Other names reported for the first four ships (RESCUE, ALPINE, BARNSTABLE, and BAXTER respectively) may have been proposals that were not accepted or they may be spurious.

On 6 Mar 43 BuShips wrote to VCNO stating that, since the receipt of the VCNO letter of 16 Apr 42, there had been "no period during which the design of this type could have been undertaken by the Bureau without interference with design work on combatant types." It suggested instead converting vessels that had approximately the characteristics desired, and proposed the 180-foot minesweeper (AM), which had also been converted into a patrol craft (PC, later PCE). Although this was a smaller vessel than contemplated by the MC, it could be converted to provide the desired passenger capacity and medical accommodations. On 12 Mar 43 VCNO authorized an indefinite deferment in drawing up plans for the APR as previously ordered and directed BuShips instead to draw up plans based on the 180' type. VCNO replied on 8 Apr 43 with drawings of a "180' Transport Rescue Vessel (APR)" that was a converted PC-827 class ship with an extension of the deck house aft and a reduction in armament. VCNO indicated his approval of the plans on 29 Apr 43. On 10 Jun 43 CNO directed that this conversion be accomplished on 25 180' PCE's building at Pullman Co., Chicago, Ill. (PCE 842-866), but noted that "the purpose for which these vessels will be most suitable will be escort duty plus the transportation of personnel in inter-island service. The rescue function will be secondary. The appropriate designation is therefore PCE(R)." At this point the vessels became small combatants and ceased to be auxiliary vessels. BuShips had already requested the cancellation of the ships' names on 27 Mar 43, and the official cancellation of the ships was later determined to have been VCNO's "indefinite deferment" of 12 Mar 43.

Page Notes:
APR        1942
Compiled:        26 Oct 2008
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2008