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USS Supply (AVS-1) after May 1945
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Class: SUPPLY (AVS-1)
Design: EFC Design 1037
Displacement (tons): 3,450 light, 13,250 load
Dimensions (feet): 411.7' oa, 395.5' wl/pp x 55.0' e x 27.2 load
Original Armament: 1-3"/50 8-20mm (IX-146)
Later armaments: 1-4"/50 1-3"/50 8-20mm (IX-147);
1-5"/51 1-3"/50 8-20mm (1944: IX-146)
Speed (kts.): 11.8
Propulsion (HP): 3,500
Machinery: Busch-Sulzer Diesel, 1 screw
||5 Feb 44
||Doullut & Williams
||8 Feb 44
||16 Feb 44
||Doullut & Williams
||27 Feb 19
||19 Feb 44
||4 Feb 46
||25 Feb 46
||4 Feb 46
||19 Dec 46
||18 Oct 45
||1 Nov 45
||18 Oct 45
||4 Mar 46
FY 1943. These ships were built as standard World War I Emergency Fleet Corporation Design 1037 freighters with steam propulsion and converted to diesel in 1929. Both were government-owned until taken over by the Navy except that WARD operated as the American Export Line's EXTON in 1940-42. When their acquisition was under consideration in October 1943 they were described as little more than hulks in very poor material condition and with unreliable engines.
On 22 Sep 43 CinCPac approved and forwarded a request by ComAirPac that five General Stores Issues Ships be provided for the Central and South Pacific areas. On 22 Oct 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board noted that part of this requirement would be filled by the conversion of ARG 14-15 to Aircraft Engine Overhaul and Structural Repair Ships, ARV 1-2, and recommended the acquisition of three EC2 hulls (see AKS 7-9) to fill the remainder of the requirement. The Board seems to have reconsidered counting the ARV's in this manner and on 30 Oct 43 it noted that the CinCPac endorsement of 22 Sep 43 had stated that two old cargo vessels would be acceptable for meeting part of this requirement. Knowing that the old motorships CITY OF ELWOOD and WARD were available at New York, the Board recommended acquiring them and designating them as Unclassified Auxiliaries (IX). It also recommended that the Navy request the War Shipping Administration (WSA) to provide at New York such minimum conversion as could be accomplished in ten days to include installation of shelving, cribbing and binning for stowage of aviation stores, a makeshift aircraft engine de-preservation room, and limited facilities for crating engines and other airplane equipment. No repairs or alterations for accommodation of naval crews were to be undertaken at New York.
WSA routed the ships to East Coast ports to load Navy cargo for discharge in California, where the ships then loaded aviation material and proceeded to Pearl Harbor. There the Navy took them over and manned them with Navy crews. Much additional conversion work had to be done at Pearl to make them usable for their primary purpose, the storage and direct issue of aviation material in forward areas. They were expected to be stationary at forward bases most of the time but, having a certain degree of mobility, were to be capable of moving to other bases under their own power. Their naval crews were to be kept to a minimum in view of their expected long periods of immobility. FORTUNE was assigned to support aircraft carriers and essentially followed this expected pattern of operations, serving extended periods at two locations, Kwajalein and Ulithi, before returning to the United States in May 1945 for repairs and alterations that lasted beyond the end of the war. She was in poor mechanical condition and was to be refitted as a floating aviation storage facility. SUPPLY was designated to maintain Marine Aircraft Groups, Combat Aircraft Service Units, and land based independent squadrons, and had a more varied career that involved frequent movements and brought her back to California only in late November 1945.
On 2 Feb 45 ComAirPac, the operational commander for the four then-active Aviation Supply Ships, recommended that a new designation, AVS, be created for them. He argued that these ships were no longer experimental and that their IX listing was proving to be a distinct handicap to them operationally. It frequently caused them to be assigned remote anchorages and low priorities in the use of port facilities, prolonging the time they needed to replenish the aviation stores on the fast aircraft carriers. The recommendation lingered for several months in the Navy bureaucracy and the new category only became effective on 25 May 45. On that date, IX-147, 146, 174, 204 and AG 92-94 were reclassified AVS 1-7 respectively. On 31 Jul 45 JUPITER (AK-43) was reclassified AVS-8 and became the only unit of the type fast enough to operate at sea with the fast carrier task forces.
||Ex merc. WARD (ID-4413F, completed 23 May 21). Ex IX-147 25 May 45. Merc. WARD 1946, to buyer 24 Jan 47, scrapped by 10 Apr 47.
||Ex merc. CITY OF ELWOOD (ID-4413A, completed 18 Mar 21). Ex IX-146 25 May 45. Merc. CITY OF ELWOOD 1946, to buyer 30 Aug 46, scrapped by 14 Jan 47.
Compiled: 24 Aug 2008
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2008