Ailanthus-class net laying ship


The Ailanthus class were a group of 40 wooden-hulled net laying ships of the United States Navy built during World War II as part of the huge building programs of late 1941 and early 1942 for small patrol and mine warfare vessels. Five of the class were transferred to the British Royal Navy under Lend-Lease, and another five were converted while at their shipyards into Auxiliary Fleet Tugs, the ATA-214-class.[1]

NH 84683 USS Cliffrose.png
USS Cliffrose (AN-42), circa 1945.
Class overview
In commission1943–1947
General characteristics
TypeNet tender
Tonnage1,100 long tons (1,118 t) GRT
Length194–198 ft (59–60 m)
Beam34.5–37 ft (10.5–11.3 m)
Draft11.75–13 ft (3.58–3.96 m)
PropulsionDiesel-electric engines, 1 shaft, 1,500 hp (1,119 kW)
Speed12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h)
Complement56 men


Originally ordered on 30 September 1941 as Yard Net Tenders ("YN"), the first twenty ships (YN 57-76) were to be constructed for the British under Lend-Lease, while a further twenty (YN 77-96) were for the United States. However, after a major redistribution of small combatant contracts, this order was canceled. Finally in May 1942 contracts for twenty vessels were awarded, with orders for YN 57-66 going to the Everett-Pacific Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company of Everett, Washington, and for YN 67-76 to the Pollock-Stockton Shipbuilding Company of Stockton, California.

In July, 14 more ships were ordered from four shipyards; four (YN 77-80) from the Barbour Boat Works in New Bern, North Carolina, five (YN 81-84 and 86) from Snow Shipyards Inc. in Rockland, Maine, one (YN-85) from the Canuelette Shipbuilding Company of Slidell, Louisiana, and four (YN 87-90) from the American Car and Foundry Company of St. Charles, Missouri.

Finally, in September, the final batch of six ships (YN 91-96) was ordered from the Canuelette Company. On 19 February 1943, after a review of requirements, the first twenty ships were reallocated to the United States. In January 1944 the ships were reclassified as Auxiliary Net Layers, redesignated "AN" and renumbered. Ultimately the British allocation was reduced to five vessels (AN 73-77), and in British service, they were called Boom Defence Vessels. On 9 August 1944 five of the ships that were still at their yards were ordered to be converted to Auxiliary Fleet Tugs, and AN-64, 65, and 70-72 were reclassified as ATA 214-218 on 12 August 1944.[1]


In the original design, in addition to the 3-inch gun mounted forward of the bridge, there were two single 20 mm guns mounted on top of the bridge. In September 1944, as a trial, a third 20 mm gun was installed on a small elevated platform mounted on a pedestal between the bridge and the smokestack on Terebinth (AN-59), but it was found that the arc of fire was restricted, that the platform was too hot to permit the storage of ready ammunition, and that the gun crew became ill from engine fumes. Instead, two additional single 20 mm guns were installed at the after end of the deckhouse on AN 39-63 and 66-69. In April 1945 the four single mounts were ordered to be replaced with four twin mounts, but this change does not seem to have been made.[1]


Two ships of the class were lost during the war;

  • USS Ailanthus (AN-38), was wrecked barely a month after commissioning, running aground in the Aleutians on 26 February 1944, and was declared a total loss on 14 March 1944.[2]
  • USS Snowbell (AN-52), was driven hard aground when Typhoon Louise hit Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on 9 October 1945 and was declared beyond repair. The wreck was blown up in January 1946.[3]


In early 1946 six of the ships, Cliffrose (AN-42), Cinnamon (AN-50), Silverbell (AN-51), Torchwood (AN-55), Catclaw (AN-60), and Shellbark (AN-67), were transferred to the Republic of China's Maritime Customs Service at Shanghai, while the remainder were disposed of in 1947 in a Maritime Commission sales program for small vessels.[1]


Ship name Hull number(s) Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
Ailanthus YN-57/AN-38 2 December 1943 n/a Ran aground in Alaskan waters, 26 February 1944; declared total loss
Bitterbush YN-58/AN-39 15 January 1944 4 January 1946 Sold to a commercial interest, 1948; destroyed by fire off Puerto Rico, 27 May 1954
Anaqua YN-59/AN-40 21 February 1944 7 February 1946 Sold to a commercial interest, 6 March 1946; fate unknown
Baretta AN-41/YN-60 18 March 1944 4 April 1946 Fate unknown
Cliffrose AN-42/YN-61 30 April 1944 7 January 1947 Transferred to Taiwan, 7 January 1947; fate unknown
Satinleaf AN-43/YN-62 8 April 1944 4 April 1946 Sold to a commercial interest, 29 April 1947; fate unknown
Corkwood AN-44/YN-63 16 May 1944 7 March 1946 Fate unknown
Cornel AN-45/YN-64 6 June 1944 15 February 1946 Fate unknown
Mastic AN-46/YN-65 4 July 1944 1 March 1946 Sold to a commercial interest, 6 June 1947; fate unknown
Canotia AN-47/YN-66 31 July 1944 18 February 1946 Fate unknown
Lancewood AN-48/YN-67 18 October 1943 11 February 1946 Transferred to France, 3 May 1947; fate unknown
Papaya AN-49/YN-68 1 December 1943 31 January 1946 Fate unknown
Cinnamon AN-50/YN-69 10 January 1944 25 March 1947 Transferred to Taiwan; fate unknown
Silverbell AN-51/YN-70 16 February 1944 10 January 1947 Transferred to Taiwan; fate unknown
Snowbell YN-71/AN-52 16 March 1944 5 December 1945 Damaged beyond economical repair by Typhoon Louise, 9 October 1945; hulk blown up, 14 January 1946
Spicewood AN-53/YN-72 7 April 1944 20 February 1946 Sold to a commercial interest; fate unknown
Manchineel AN-54/YN-73 26 April 1944 11 March 1946 Sold to a commercial interest, 20 June 1947; fate unknown
Torchwood AN-55/YN-74 12 May 1944 26 October 1946 Transferred to China; fate unknown
Winterberry AN-56/YN-75 30 May 1944 15 February 1946 Sold to a commercial interest, 31 March 1947; fate unknown
Viburnum AN-57/YN-76 2 June 1944 3 January 1946 Sold to a commercial interest; fate unknown
Abele YN-77/AN-58 2 June 1944 1 March 1946 Fate unknown
Balm YN-78/AN-59 5 August 1944 31 January 1946 Sold to a commercial interest, 23 April 1946; fate unknown
Precept; served as HMS Precept (Z266) YN-79/AN-73 14 October 1944 4 January 1945 Fate unknown
Boxelder; served as HMS Precise (Z285) YN-80/AN-74 21 December 1944 14 December 1945 Fate unknown
Catclaw YN-81/AN-60 14 January 1944 19 April 1946 Transferred to China; fate unknown
Chinaberry AN-61/YN-82 12 March 1944 26 March 1946 Sold to a commercial interest, 27 February 1950; fate unknown
Hoptree AN-62/YN-83 18 May 1944 1 March 1946 Sold to a commercial interest, 23 April 1947; sold for scrap, 1954
Whitewood YN-84/AN-63/AG-129 17 July 1944 1 April 1949 Sold for scrap, 8 March 1950
n/a YN-85/AN-64 reordered as ATA-214 class tugboat
n/a YN-86/AN-65 reordered as ATA-214 class tugboat
Pinon AN-66/YN-87 31 March 1944 5 March 1946 Sold to a commercial interest; destroyed by fire, 28 August 1961
Prefect; served as HMS Prefect (Z263) YN-88/AN-75 3 June 1944 28 December 1945 Fate unknown
Satinwood; served as HMS Pretext (Z284) YN-89/AN-76 5 August 1944 22 November 1945 Sold to a commercial interest; foundered off Newfoundland, 11 November 1982
Seagrape; served as HMS Preventer (Z265) YN-90/AN-77 5 August 1944 22 November 1945 Transferred to New Zealand, 15 August 1956; sold to a commercial interest, June 1962; sunk, 11 November 1982
Shellbark AN-67/YN-91 12 April 1944 19 April 1946 Transferred to China, 20 April 1946; fate unknown
Silverleaf AN-68/YN-92 26 May 1944 18 April 1946 Sold for scrap, 31 March 1947
Stagbush AN-69/YN-93 30 August 1944 26 March 1946 Sold to a commercial interest, April 1947; burned, 16 October 1954
n/a YN-94/AN-70 reordered as ATA-214 class tugboat
n/a YN-95/AN-71 reordered as ATA-214 class tugboat
n/a YN-96/AN-72 reordered as ATA-214 class tugboat


  1. ^ a b c d Stephen S. Roberts (2009). "US Navy Auxiliary Ships: Ailanthus Class". Archived from the original on 27 November 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Ailanthus (YN-57/AN-38)". Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  3. ^ "Snowbell (YN-71/AN-52)". Retrieved 27 November 2010.

External linksEdit

  • Net Laying Ship Index at NavSource Naval History