Ammunition ship

An ammunition ship is an auxiliary ship specially configured to carry ammunition, usually for naval ships and aircraft. An ammunition ship′s cargo handling systems, designed with extreme safety in mind, include ammunition hoists with airlocks between decks, and mechanisms for flooding entire compartments with sea water in case of emergencies. Ammunition ships most often deliver their cargo to other ships using underway replenishment, using both connected replenishment and vertical replenishment. To a lesser extent, they transport ammunition from one shore-based weapons station to another.[1]

USNS Kilauea, a typical contemporary ammunition ship

United States Navy ammunition ships

U.S. Navy ammunition ships are frequently named for volcanos.[2]

During World War II, U.S. Navy ammunition ships were converted from merchant ships or specially built on merchant ship hulls, often of Type C2. They were armed, and were manned by naval crews. Several of them were destroyed in spectacular explosions during the war, such as USS Mount Hood, which exploded in the Admiralty Islands on November 10, 1944, and the Liberty ship SS John Burke, which was hit by a single kamikaze attack near the Philippines on December 28, 1944 and which was captured on film by an amateur photographer on a nearby vessel.[3] The ship disintegrated in seconds with the loss of all hands. SS Canada Victory, SS Logan Victory and SS Hobbs Victory were hit by kamikaze aircraft at Okinawa and sank.[4]

Contemporary U.S. ammunition ships of the Kilauea class are specially designed for their mission, which also includes carrying dry and refrigerated cargo. They are unarmed and are manned by civilian crews. These ships are being replaced by the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ships.[5]


  1. ^ "AE Ammunition Ships". Archived from the original on 15 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  2. ^ Dictionary of American Fighting Ships (DANFS), Naval Vessel Register, Ammunition Ships. Archived June 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ andrew hayes (25 April 2012). "Kamikaze Attack ~ USS John Burke - Complete destruction of ship and all on board!" – via YouTube.
  4. ^ US Navy, Armed Guard Service
  5. ^ "Lewis & Clark Class Auxiliary Cargo and Ammunition Ship (T-AKE)". Joint Interoperability Test Command web site. Archived from the original on 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
400 ton-class ammunition ship

400-ton class ammunition ship is a class of naval auxiliary ship currently in service with the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The exact type of this class remain unknown as of 2015, because no official information has been released, despite the ships have already been in service around a decade. 400-ton class is the most commonly referred term when describe these ships 400-ton class ammo ship in PLAN service is designated by a combination of an alphabet followed by three-digit number. The alphabet is Y, the abbreviation of Yun, which is for the Chinese character (运), meaning transport. However, the pennant number may have changed due to the change of Chinese naval ships naming convention.

Type 400-ton class ammo ship is the result of the need of a replenishment ship that can supply ammo at the sea, because the first generation Chinese replenishment oiler Type 905 Fuqing class lacked of the capability to supply ammunition, so ammo ships are needed to work in conjunction with Type 905 and other replenishment oilers. However, the small size of the 400-ton class limits it to the coastal waters, so in order to supply fleets much further out in the ocean, larger ammunition ships such as Yantai class were needed by the surface combatants. As a result, only a single unit of Type 400-ton class ammo ship was built.

Italian cruiser Stromboli

Stromboli was a protected cruiser of the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) built in the 1880s. She was the second member of the Etna class, which included three sister ships. She was named for the volcanic island of Stromboli, and was armed with a main battery of two 10-inch (254 mm) and six 6-inch (152 mm) guns, and could steam at a speed of 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph). Her career was relatively uneventful; the only significant action in which she took part was the campaign against the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900. She returned to Italy in 1901 and spent the rest of her career in reserve or as an ammunition ship, apart from a brief stint in active service in 1904. Stromboli was stricken from the naval register in 1907 and sold for scrapping in 1911.

Japanese munition ship Kashino

Kashino (樫野) was a ammunition ship operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1940 until she was sunk by a United States Navy submarine in 1942. She was built to carry the Yamato-class battleship's main battery from the Kure Naval Arsenal to the shipyards where the battleships were being constructed. When the ships were completed, Kashino was converted to carry ammunition and other supplies.

Kilauea-class ammunition ship

The Kilauea class ammunition ship is a class of eight United States Navy cargo vessels designed for underway replenishment of naval warships. The ships were constructed 1968–1972 and were initially commissioned naval ships, carrying a crew of naval personnel. At various dates 1980–96 these ships were decommissioned and transferred to the Military Sealift Command for civilian operation. They were eventually all replaced by the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ships. The lead ship of the class, Kilauea, was commissioned on 10 August 1968, and the last, the Kiska, on 16 December 1972.

King's Chapel, Gibraltar

King's Chapel is a small chapel in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. It is located at the southern end of Main Street and adjoins the Governor of Gibraltar's residence, The Convent. What nowadays is King's Chapel was the first purpose built church to be constructed in Gibraltar. Originally part of a Franciscan friary, the chapel was built in the 1530s but was given to the Church of England by the British after the capture of Gibraltar in 1704. It was badly damaged in the late 18th century during the Great Siege of Gibraltar and in the explosion of an ammunition ship in Gibraltar harbour in 1951, but was restored on both occasions. From 1844 to 1990 it served as the principal church of the British Army in Gibraltar; since then it has been used by all three services of the British Armed Forces.

List of accidents and incidents involving transport or storage of ammunition

Accidents and incidents involving transport or storage of ammunition include:

1634 Valletta explosion, Malta

An Ottoman ammunition dump inside the Parthenon was ignited by Venetian bombardment in 1687

1806 Birgu polverista explosion, Malta

Siege of Almeida (1810), a chance shell ignited a line of black powder which set off a chain reaction in the magazine

City Point, Virginia, Union army supply depot sabotaged in 1864 by Confederate Secret Service

Black Tom explosion, 1916 act of sabotage on American ammunition supplies by German agents during World War I

Kingsland explosion, American munitions factory in 1917

Halifax Explosion, 1917 ammunition ship explosion that killed over 2,000 people

Morgan Depot Explosion, American munitions factory in 1918

Lake Denmark explosion, July 10 1926 detonation of millions of pounds of stored explosives at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey

Joliet Army Ammunition Plant explosion, a 1942 explosion that was felt 100 miles away

Air raid on Bari, a port disaster in Italy in 1943

SS El Estero, ammunition ship that caught fire in New York Harbor in 1943 during World War II

Naval Station Norfolk, September 17, 1943 accidental truckload explosion of 24 aerial depth charges -killing 40 and injuring 386

Naval Weapons Station Yorktown VA November 1943 explosion-6 killed

USS Turner (DD-648), 1943 naval explosion in Lower New York Bay

Bombay Explosion (1944), explosion on a ship in Bombay Harbour

SS Paul Hamilton, 20 April 1944, liberty ship carrying cargo of high explosives and bombs-sunk by Luftwaffe

Soham rail disaster, 2 June 1944, fire and subsequent explosion of a freight wagon carrying high explosives.

West Loch disaster, ammunition explosion in Pearl Harbor, two months before Port Chicago

Port Chicago disaster, a deadly munitions explosion that occurred in 1944, at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in California

Naval Ammunition Depot, 27 September 1944 munitions explosions causing nine deaths and extensive damage.

USS Mount Hood (AE-11), 10 November 1944 explosion of an ammunition ship at Seeadler Harbor, 432 killed

RAF Fauld explosion, UK underground munitions storage depot in 1944, one of largest non-nuclear explosions in history

SS John Burke, a Liberty Ship carrying ammunition was hit by a kamikaze pilot and disintegrated in an enormous explosion on December 28, 1944.

SS Charles Henderson, unloading accident in Bari, Italy, 9 April 1945

SS Canada Victory, SS Logan Victory and SS Hobbs Victory each with 6,000 pounds of ammunition sank after kamikaze attacks caused an explosion near Okinawa in 1945.

SS Greenhill Park, 1945 incident in Vancouver similar to El Estero

Cádiz Explosion, 18 August 1947, in mines and torpedoes depot, ca. 150 killed and large part of the city destroyed

Prüm, Germany, 15 July 1949, a French Army depot with 500 tons of ammunition explodes, 12 killed

South Amboy powder pier explosion, New Jersey, 1950

Explosion of the RFA Bedenham, 27 April 1951 explosion of an ammunition ship in the Port of Gibraltar

Cali explosion, 1956 explosion of seven army ammunition trucks loaded with 1053 boxes of dynamite, which were parked overnight in Cali, Colombia.

SS Richard Montgomery, explosive-filled liberty ship wreck, off the UK's Kent coast

1973 Roseville Yard Disaster, high-explosive aircraft ammunition and ordnance in military boxcars in a Southern Pacific train consist in its Roseville, California railyard.

Severomorsk Disaster, 13-17 May 1984, munitions fire at the Soviet naval base, 200-300 killed

2008 Gërdec explosions, Albania

Evangelos Florakis Naval Base explosion, Cyprus, 2011

Nitro-class ammunition ship

The Nitro-class ammunition ships are a class of three auxiliary vessels of the United States Navy. Launched in 1958-1959, they were among the first specialized underway replenishment ships built after the Second World War, to carry munitions. These and the Suribachi-class ammunition ships are sometimes considered to form a single class. A fourth ship of the class was planned under the 1959 military construction program but was eventually cancelled before construction began. Soon after completion, all ships of the class were modified to stow surface to air missiles as large as the RIM-8 Talos in their holds. Initially ships of the Nitro class were armed with eight 3"/50 caliber guns in Mk 33 twin mounts. Two Mk 33 mounts were located on the forecastle and another two were located near the stern. During the mid-1960s all ships of the class had the two Mk 33 mounts near the stern replaced with a helicopter landing pad. This allowed each ship to utilize helicopters during replenishment operations.The Nitros were decommissioned in 1993-1995 following the end of the Cold War and are currently mothballed.

Suribachi-class ammunition ship

The Suribachi-class ammunition ships are a class of two auxiliary vessels of the United States Navy. They were among the first specialized underway replenishment ships built after the Second World War. The Nitro-class ammunition ships are sometimes considered part of this class.

Mauna Kea was used for target practice in 2006, and Suribachi was scrapped in the summer of 2009.

USS Chara (AKA-58)

USS Chara (AKA-58) was an Andromeda-class attack cargo ship named after a star in the constellation Canes Venatici. She was later converted to an ammunition ship and redesignated (AE-31).

Chara (AKA-58) was launched on 15 March 1944 by Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Kearny, New Jersey, under a Maritime Commission contract, sponsored by Mrs. E. P. McHugh, acquired by the Navy on 16 March 1944, and commissioned on 14 June 1944, Commander C. B. Hamblett, USNR, in command.

USS Diamond Head (AE-19)

USS Diamond Head (AE-19) was a U.S. ammunition ship. Launched on 3 February 1945, the ship was built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Co., Wilmington, North Carolina under a Maritime Commission contract, and sponsored by Mrs. D. Bill. Transferred to the U.S. Navy on 10 March 1945, and converted at Bethlehem Key Highway Shipyard, Baltimore, Maryland to carry and transfer naval ammunition, the ship was commissioned on 9 August 1945, under the command of Lieutenant Commander F. C. Snow, USNR.

On 20 September 1945, Diamond Head reported for duty to Norfolk Commander, Service Force, Atlantic. After crew training, the Bureau of Ships used the Diamond Head experimentally to test suitable exterior markings for hospital ships. She departed Norfolk on 5 April 1946, for Galveston, Texas, arriving five days later. Diamond Head was placed out of commission and into the reserve fleet on 23 August 1946.

Diamond Head was recommissioned on 9 August 1951, as part of the naval expansion brought about by the Korean War. Assigned to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, the ammunition ship took her place as part of the vital logistics support force that has given the United States Navy outstanding sea-keeping ability and unprecedented mobility. Diamond Head served in various operations along the east coast and in the Caribbean, and through 1960 had made five cruises with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean.

On 16 March 1967, Diamond Head left Norfolk, Virginia, for a nine-month deployment off Vietnam. She transited the Panama Canal on 22 March, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 5 April 1967. She arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines on 22 April. From May through October, the crew rearmed almost 200 ships, transferring almost 12,000 tonnes (26,000,000 lb) of ammunition. Diamond Head supplied the antiquated bombs that led to the disaster aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal. The ship also visited Manila; Hong Kong; Sasebo, Japan; Pearl Harbor; San Diego; and Panama City for much appreciated Rest & Recreation. Diamond Head arrived in Norfolk on 19 December 1967.

The ship was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 March 1973 and sold for scrapping in 1974.

USS Judge Torrence (1862)

USS Judge Torrence (1862) was a steamer acquired by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was used by the Union Navy as an ammunition ship in support of the Union Navy.

USS Lassen (AE-3)

USS Lassen (AE-3) was built as MS Shooting Star under a U.S. Maritime Commission contract, was delivered to the U.S. Navy after sea trials, and became an ammunition cargo ship during World War II. Like many Naval ships of this category that carried large amounts of explosive cargo, she was named for a volcano (or a volcanic island). In this case, the ship was named for Lassen Peak, a volcano in northern California that erupted heavily in 1914–17.

USS Loyalty (AMc-88)

USS Loyalty (AMc-88) was an Accentor-class coastal minesweeper acquired by the U.S. Navy for the dangerous task of removing mines from minefields laid in the water to prevent ships from passing.

Loyalty was laid down by F. L. Fulton, Antioch, California, 8 May 1941; launched 23 August 1941; sponsored by Mrs. Donald Noackk; and placed in service 17 January 1942.

Assigned to the 14th Naval District, Loyalty, performed patrol and minesweeping operations out of Pearl Harbor. She was commissioned 15 December 1944, Lt. Robert H. Grayson in command. Following conversion to an underwater location ship, Loyalty sailed 1 May 1945 for the western Pacific. After touching Eniwetok, Guam, and Saipan, the minesweeper arrived Okinawa 18 June.

Throughout the summer, Loyalty operated out of Okinawa on various underwater demolition and salvage mission. Her duties included the blasting of a sunken Japanese ammunition ship and the removal of 40 depth charges from a sunken enemy destroyer.

She remained in the western Pacific after V-J Day. While en route to Unten Ko, Okinawa, 16 September, she struck a reef and grounded. Loyalty decommissioned 4 December 1945 and was struck from the Navy list the 19th. She was destroyed 12 January 1946.

Loyalty received one battle star for World War II service.

USS Mount Hood (AE-11)

USS Mount Hood (AE-11) was the lead ship of her class of ammunition ships for the United States Navy in World War II. She was the first ship named after Mount Hood, a volcano in the Cascade Range in Oregon. On 10 November 1944, shortly after 18 men had departed for shore leave, the rest of the crew were killed when the ship exploded in Seeadler Harbor at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The ship was obliterated while also sinking or severely damaging 22 smaller craft nearby.

USS Mount Katmai (AE-16)

USS Mount Katmai (AE-16) was a Mount Hood-class ammunition ship of the United States Navy, that saw service in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The ship was laid down on 11 November 1944 by North Carolina Shipbuilding Co., Wilmington, N.C.; launched on 6 January 1945, sponsored by Mrs. A. E. DeMaray; and commissioned on 21 July 1945 at Jacksonville, Florida, Comdr. C. H. Ross in command.

USS Rose

USS Rose was a screw steamer acquired by the Union Navy during the American Civil War.

She was used by the Union Navy as a tugboat and ammunition ship in support of the Union Navy blockade of Confederate waterways.

USS Sangay (AE-10)

The USS Sangay (AE-10) was a ammunition ship in service with the United States Navy from 1943 to 1947. After spending decades in reserve, she was sold for scrapping in November 1980.

USS Santa Barbara (AE-28)

USS Santa Barbara (AE-28) was an Kilauea-class ammunition ship in the United States Navy. Santa Barbara is both the name of Santa Barbara, California and a historically active volcano on Terceira Island in the Azores. In addition, Saint Barbara is the patron saint of those who work with cannons and explosives.

Santa Barbara was laid down on 30 December 1966 at the Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard in Sparrows Point, Maryland; launched on 23 January 1968; sponsored by Mrs. Graeme C. Bannerman, the wife of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Logistics; and commissioned on 11 July 1970, with Captain Charles A. Whitmore in command.

USS Suribachi (AE-21)

USS Suribachi (AE-21) was a Suribachi-class ammunition ship of the United States Navy. The ship was laid down on 31 January 1955 at Sparrows Point, Maryland, by Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard, Inc.; launched on 2 November 1955; sponsored by Mrs. Lemuel C. Shepherd; and commissioned on 17 November 1956, Captain Brooks J. Harral in command. She was named for the volcano of Iwo Jima, Mount Suribachi.

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