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USS Bushnell (Submarine Tender No. 2) circa 1918
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Class: BUSHNELL (AS-2)
Design Navy AS-2
Displacement (tons): 3,142 light, 3,580 full
Dimensions (feet): 350.5' oa, 300.0' pp x 45.7' wl x 15.0' mn and mx
Original Armament: 4-5"/51
Later armaments: none (1938);
1-5"/51 4-3"/23 (1941); 1-5"/51 4-3"/23 2-20mm (1943);
1-5"/38 4-3"/50 8-20mm (1944)
Complement 246 (1929)
Speed (kts.): 14.15
Propulsion (HP): 2,617
Machinery: Parsons geared turbine, 1 screw
||30 Jun 13
||Seattle Const. & DD
||3 Jan 14
||9 Feb 15
||24 Nov 15
||13 Sep 46
||29 Oct 46
||19 Sep 46
||21 Jan 48
FY 1913 (Act of 22 Aug 12). BUSHNELL (Submarine Tender No. 2) was essentially the tender that the Navy had wanted when it purchased FULTON (Submarine Tender No. 1). The Bureau of Construction and Repair had designed Submarine Tender No. 1 to characteristics forwarded by the General Board on 25 Jun 10 but the Congressional limit of $500,000 caused the Bureau's design to be reduced from 3,500 to 2,200 tons and use of a private design then brought it down to 1,260 tons. During this time, on 18 Jul 11, the General Board forwarded new characteristics for submarine tenders that retained all the items in the 25 Jun 10 specifications along with the 14-knot Diesel main propulsion plant that the Board had recommended for Submarine Tender No. 1 on 22 Mar 11 and increased the steaming radius of the ship from 3,000 to 5,000 miles at 11 knots. Over a year later, on 29 Jul 12, the Bureaus informed SecNav's Division of Material that they were proceeding with preliminary designs for the proposed submarine tender for the 1913 building program based on the characteristics of 18 Jul 11 but recommended using a single screw reciprocating steam engine propulsion plant instead of the internal combustion engines in the characteristics. The FY 1913 bill included $1,000,000 for the tender, for which the Bureau estimated it could buy a 2,500-ton twin-screw diesel ship or a 4,000-ton single-screw steam one. With the 4,000-ton ship the Bureau felt it could obtain practically all of the characteristics recommended by the General Board but with the 2,500-ton ship it would be necessary to reduce or eliminate some of them, notably the 5,000-mile 11-knot steaming radius. The General Board strongly endorsed this recommendation on 7 Aug 12, stating that it was essential to include as many of the prescribed characteristics as possible and that the advantages resulting from the use of an oil engine did not warrant a sacrifice of 1,500 tons in displacement. On 20 Aug 12 the Bureau of Steam Engineering recommended deleting the word "reciprocating" to make it possible to use turbines. BuC&R submitted the preliminary design for Submarine Tender No. 2 on 28 Aug 12 which provided for a 3,600 ton turbine-propelled ship that met essentially all of the General Board's requirements and closely resembled the ship as built except that its dimensions were a bit larger (371' oa, 320' pp x 47'). The ship was completed with one torpedo tube on deck for testing, adjusting, and tuning up torpedoes, but it was found unsatisfactory and was removed prior to February 1918.
The type plans for AS-2, BUSHNELL, were completed and circular signed by Acting SecNav on 13 Mar 13 and issued to bidders on request thereafter. Bids were opened at the department on 19 May 13. The successful bid was from the Seattle Construction & Dry Dock Co. for the bidder's design of hull with steam turbines and reduction gears, with the vessel complete within 21 months (by 30 Mar 15) including machine tools and shop outfit furnished and installed by the contractor. Keel laying was commenced on 20 Nov 13 and finished on 10 Jan 14. The ship ran trials on 14 Sep 15 and made 14.15 knots against a required 14.0 knots. Preliminary acceptance (delivery) occurred on 20 Nov 15.
BUSHNELL was authorized in the same year as the seven submarines of the "L" class, and on 11 Dec 15 she was assigned to tend the first four Atlantic Fleet L-class subs, which measured 167.4 feet in length. She had 4-5"/51 guns on broadside mountings with unusually wide arcs of train, and in 1919 she asked to have the two after ones removed to make room for reserve ammunition for her subs and increase capacity for stores. Her request was disapproved because it was considered more important not to reduce her own fighting power. In 1920 BUSHNELL was considered capable of tending 3 of the larger (around 231' long) "S"-class subs, the limiting factors being berthing space for the subs' crews and stowage space for spare parts. In case of emergency she could tend 6 "S"-class subs if the crews lived in the boats and their living space on the tender was used for stowage. In 1936 she was rated as able to tend 6 submarines as both her normal and maximum capacity, although after 1931 she was used primarily as flagship for the Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Fleet.
In December 1937 CNO designated BUSHNELL for survey duty to replace NOKOMIS (PY-6). The Department desired that this assignment be considered temporary and that the ship be maintained in a condition of readiness to resume the status of a submarine tender on short notice. On 19 Jul 40 CNO informed SecNav that consideration had been given as to whether BUSHNELL and ARGONNE (AS-10) should continue on their present duties (ARGONNE was in use as the flagship of the Base Force) or be returned to submarine tender duties. He concluded that "the realities of the situation point to the conclusion that the primary duties of ARGONNE and BUSHNELL are those now being performed by them" and recommended that their designation be changed from AS to AG. He also recommended that the name of the BUSHNELL be changed "in order that that name, which for so many years has been closely identified with submarines," might be made available for a future submarine tender. SecNav approved the change of designation on 25 Jul 40 and on 9 Aug 40 BuShips informed CNO that the numbers AG-31 and AG-32 had been assigned to the ships. On 5 Sep 40 SecNav approved the new name SUMNER for the former BUSHNELL in honor of Captain Thomas Hubbard Sumner, discoverer of the Sumner Line of Position.
The type symbol AGS (Surveying ship), which had existed since around 1935, was first used in April 1942 for three smaller vessels acquired from the Coast and Geodetic Survey. On 4 Nov 43 CNO noted to SecNav that the larger BOWDITCH (AG-30) and SUMNER (AG-32) were also surveying ships and recommended that they be reclassified AGS-4 and AGS-5 respectively effective 1 Dec 43. SecNav approved this recommendation on the same day.
||To AG-32 (surveying ship) 25 Jul 40, renamed SUMNER 23 Aug 40, to AGS-5 1 Dec 43. To buyer 26 Feb 48, scrapped by 23 Sep 48.
Compiled: 21 Jun 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012