Quick Links Menu.
USS Mauna Kea (AE 22).
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.
Class: SURIBACHI (AE 21)
Design: SCB Project No. 114
Displacement (tons): 9,758t light, 15,688t full (AE 21)
Dimensions (feet): 511' oa, 486' wl x 72' e/wl x 28' max nav
Armament: 4-3"/50T; (1965 except 25: 1969) 2-3"/50T
Accommodations: 20 officers, 324 enlisted (AE 21)
Speed (kts.): 21
Propulsion (HP): 18,000
Machinery: Geared steam turbines, 2 boilers (615psi/850deg), 1 screw
|21||SURIBACHI||4 Jun 1954||Bethlehem Sparrows Point||31 Jan 1955||2 Nov 1955||17 Nov 1956|
|22||MAUNA KEA||4 Jun 1954||Bethlehem Sparrows Point||16 May 1955||3 May 1956||30 Mar 1957|
|23||NITRO||23 Aug 1956||Bethlehem Sparrows Point||20 May 1957||25 Jun 1958||1 May 1959|
|24||PYRO||23 Aug 1956||Bethlehem Sparrows Point||21 Oct 1957||5 Nov 1958||24 Jul 1959|
|25||HALEAKALA||23 Aug 1956||Bethlehem Sparrows Point||10 Mar 1958||17 Feb 1959||3 Nov 1959|
|21||SURIBACHI||2 Dec 1994||12 Dec 1996||31 Mar 2000||MA/T||8 Jun 2009|
|22||MAUNA KEA||30 Jun 1995||12 Dec 1996||18 Dec 1998||MA/T||Target|
|23||NITRO||28 Apr 1995||14 Aug 1995||31 Mar 2000||MA/T||23 Jun 2008|
|24||PYRO||31 May 1994||8 Apr 1997||24 Feb 2001||MA/T||23 Nov 2011|
|25||HALEAKALA||10 Dec 1993||10 Dec 1993||9 Mar 1994||MA sale||--|
The need for a new ship design for AF and other naval auxiliaries was raised in an internal BUSHIPS memorandum in September 1951. On 27 February 1952 George G. Sharp as design agent delivered an initial preliminary design of an AF (Project No. 97), which included consideration of an AE. On 16 April 1952 preliminary characteristics dated 20 March 1952 for an AE mobilization conversion from MARAD hull type C3-S-DX1 (later SCHUYLER OTIS BLAND), SCB Project No. 99, were examined. (This was a ship called the Freedom class of 15,900 tons full load measuring 477.5' oa x 66' x 28.5' and with 18.5 knots sustained speed.) On 19 May 1952 a Conference on Mobile Logistic Support recommended that four types of ship should be equipped for replenishment at sea: an oiler (AO), an ammunition ship (AE), a refrigerated stores ship (AF), and a general stores issue ship (AKS), the latter to carry technical and aviation spares in addition to general stores. While commercial ships could and would be modified for these functions in the event of mobilization, it was decided to base the original design for the replenishment ships included in the Navy Shipbuilding Program on Navy rather than commercial requirements and thus obtain the most favorable spacing of decks and sheer and camber. It was decided that the AF, AE, and AKS would use substantially the same hull, machinery, and design policies. On 16 July 1952 the Ship Characteristics Board forwarded its first preliminary characteristics for an AE, Project No. 114. On 21 July 1952 Sharp delivered a Summary of Design for Refrigerated Stores Ship (AF) Shipbulding Project No. 97, supplemented by several reports on 1 August 1952, all being partly applicable to the AE. It was decided that a generally similar hull and machinery installation would be used for the new AE and that no design agent need be employed. Initially the AE's like the AF's were to be built by the Maritime Administration and under their supervision for the exclusive use of the Navy, although the Navy ended up contracting for the AE's itself. Both types were also to be designed to commercial standards. During the design process some changes were made from the AF 58 design: longitudinal framing replaced transverse framing, the stern was redesigned based on the "Mariner" type to reduce vibration, and deck heights were changed to provide even heights between decks as opposed to the different heights in the AF 58 design required to accommodate the refrigeration insulation.
The first job order for design work on the new AE was issued on 18 August 1952. Special emphasis was to be placed on providing the fastest practicable safe rate of transfer of ammunition at sea. Cargo handling issues involving automatic tensioning winches, various types of fork lift trucks, cargo elevators, and a new type of adjustable permanent dunnage were controversial, and unfortunately the results of a major experiment ("Project 104") with this equipment in one hold in DIAMOND HEAD (AE 19) and WHITLEY (AKA 91) that ran from November 1951 to October 1953 would not be available for the new design. (The experiment showed that practically all of the equipment tested needed to be redesigned.) Changes to the basic design to improve cargo handling included rearrangement of booms, kingposts and elevators, the reduction in size of some hatches, and a reduction from six to five holds to increase the size of the individual holds. The design work also addressed cargo stowage, fire fighting, cargo cooling, and other features directly related to the mission of the ship. Approved characteristics for a new construction Ammunition Ship (AE), SCB Project No. 114, were promulgated on 7 January 1953 and updated on 14 December 1955, 19 June 1957, and 26 May 1958. The AE contract drawings and specifications were signed on 12 May 1953.
The design as of April 1955 had its two forward twin 3" mounts on the centerline, and SURIBACHI and MAUNA KEA were completed with this arrangement. However trials of SURIBACHI in November 1957 showed that visibility forward from the bridge was blocked by the centerline gun and director installation on the bow, and the later three ships had the guns located athwartships, which improved visibility. All five ships originally had two more mounts on the centerline aft, but these were soon replaced with a flight deck.
AE 21-22 had underway replenishment rigs little different from those used in World War II. AE 23-25 were completed in 1959 with a new counterweight tensioned highline rig with loadline for transferring ammunition and cargo underway that had been tested in 1956 in ALSTEDE (AF 48). The counterweights moved up and down inside the shortened and enlarged kingposts and the loadline (used to raise and lower the load) ran in parallel with the highline. The absence of vertical slots on the outboard sides of the kingposts showed that this was not a sliding block system as were the later FAST and STREAM systems. Instead the highline and the loadline were attached at the top of the kingpost through a curved hood that trained to follow the highline. When the system was evaluated on NITRO with GALVESTON (CLG 3) in November 1960 it was found that the pendulum action of the loadline, the single point of suspension of the dolly carrying the cargo (in these tests a dummy TALOS anti-air missile), and the lack of tensioned hauling lines made this system dangerous for long and heavy loads.
In the meantime, following a 1957 conference on mobile logistic support, CNO Burke had directed the Bureau of Ships to initiate development of a highly automated missile underway replenishment system eventually known as FAST (Fast Automatic Shuttle Transfer). (See the AOE 1 class for a full description and history of FAST.) FAST was designed to transfer a surface-to-air missile from a replenishment ship to a receiving ship every 90 seconds in a shock-mitigated environment without being touched by human hands using automated handling equipment both topsides and below decks. For underway transfer gear it used a ram-tensioned sliding-block cargo transfer system called STREAM (Standard Tensioned Replenishment Alongside Method) that had first been tested in VEGA (AF 59) in 1960. (The use of ram tensioners in place of counterweights saved four fifths of the weight and cost of the older systems.) BUSHIPS conducted an at-sea evaluation in PYRO of an experimental FAST masthead receiver in February 1961, and half of a prototype M-frame for SACRAMENTO (AOE 1) and MARS (AFS 1) reminiscent of the one tested in VEGA was then mounted just forward of the bridge of HALEAKALA during a regular overhaul in December 1961-February 1962 and tested in transfers at sea in March 1962. A prototype AE FAST delivery station, still resembling half of a M-frame, was installed on PYRO just forward of her bridge at Hunter's Point in Sep-Oct 1963. A deadline of September 1964 was set for the development of a proven FAST concept for the AE 21/23 class conversion. Approved characteristics for the conversion of ammunition ships (AE 21-23 class), SCB Project No. 232, were promulgated on 15 January 1962 and updated for Ammunition Ship (AE FAST) conversion in FY 1964 on 1 April 1963 with a final change on 23 June 1966. The final AE FAST transfer station design used a kingpost pair rather than the M-frame of the larger AOE and AFS. In the five AEs the forward and after kingpost pairs were converted for FAST while the original middle one was retained, giving them four FAST (STREAM) stations. In April 1963 SURIBACHI entered the yard of the Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. at Baltimore for conversion to a FAST ammunition ship (AE FAST), and at the same time she received a helicopter platform on her fantail enabling her to conduct vertical replenishments for the fleet. She was placed back in full commission on 15 December 1965. The other four ships also received this SCB 232 conversion in FY 1963 and FY 1964 as indicated below, although the last ship, PYRO, did not complete conversion until 1968. The FAST system proved to be a maintenance nightmare and in 1968 a simplified version of FAST in which all below deck FAST automated handling systems were bypassed (forklift trucks being used instead) was tested in HALEAKALA. This led in 1970 to adoption of a STREAM system that reused as much already-installed FAST equipment as possible while omitting most of the FAST automated mechanisms. The time to transfer missiles increased from 90 seconds to a still acceptable five minutes. The new STREAM system proved to be highly reliable and easily maintained and is still in use in 2022.
|21||SURIBACHI||FY 1954. FAST conversion, SCB 232.63, ord 21 Jun 1963, Maryland SB/DD, start 1 Apr 1964, compl 15 Dec 1965 (completed fitting out and recomm). To MA custody 14 Dec 1999. Departed MA custody 17 Jun 2009 under sales contract with International Shipbreakers LLC of Brownsville, TX.|
|22||MAUNA KEA||FY 1954. FAST conversion, SCB 232.64, ord 26 Mar 1964, Lockheed, Seattle, start 1 Mar 1965, compl 3 Jun 1966. To MA custody 2 Mar 1998. MA accepted title 18 Dec 1998. Towed from Concord, CA to Pearl in May 2006 for SINKEX, sunk as target 12 Jul 2006 off Kauai, Hawaii, during RIMPAC 2006.|
|23||NITRO||FY 1956. FAST conversion, SCB 232.64, ord 26 Mar 1964, Maryland SB/DD, start 5 Mar 1965, recomm & compl 31 Aug 1967. To MA custody 9 Feb 2000. Departed MA custody for scrapping by ESCO Marine at Brownsville 23 Jul 2008.|
|24||PYRO||FY 1956. FAST conversion, SCB 232.64, ord 26 Mar 1964, Lockheed, delayed, start 12 Feb 1968, deliv 7 Nov 1968. To MA custody 17 Aug 2000. Departed MA custody 24 Jan 2012 under domestic sale to EMR's Southern Recycling in New Orleans, LA.|
|25||HALEAKALA||FY 1957. FAST conversion, SCB 232.63, ord 21 Jun 1963, Todd Seattle [Puget Sound Bridge and Dredge], start 28 Feb 1964, compl 26 Apr 1965. Ship decomm. at Guam and MA was asked to sell her there outside its usual process. MA on 9 Mar 1994 reported the sale, release to the buyer was authorized on 29 Mar 1994, and the ship was towed out of Guam on 15 Apr 1994.|
Compiled: 22 July 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: NARA: RG19 Item S-13 Entry 1021-M1(UD), RG19 Item S-13 Entry 1022-T(UD), RG19 Item S-13 Entry 1022-T1(UD); Marvin O. Miller, Designing the U.S. Navy's Underway Replenishment System, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme, Cal., 1996.