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.
USS Cliffrose (AN-42), circa 1945.
|Tonnage||1,100 long tons (1,118 t) GRT|
|Length||194–198 ft (59–60 m)|
|Beam||34.5–37 ft (10.5–11.3 m)|
|Draft||11.75–13 ft (3.58–3.96 m)|
|Propulsion||Diesel-electric engines, 1 shaft, 1,500 hp (1,119 kW)|
|Speed||12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h)|
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.
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.
Two ships of the class were lost during the war;
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.
|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|
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