Auxiliary ship

An auxiliary ship is a naval ship designed to operate in support of combatant ships and other naval operations.[1] Auxiliaries are not primary combatants,[2] although they may have some limited combat capacity, usually of a self-defence nature.

Auxiliaries are extremely important for navies of all sizes, as without them, the primary fleet vessels cannot be effective. Thus, nearly every navy maintains an extensive fleet of auxiliaries. However, the composition and size of these auxiliary fleets varies depending on the nature of each navy and its primary mission. Smaller coastal navies tend to have smaller auxiliary vessels focusing primarily on littoral and training support roles. Larger blue-water navies tend to have large auxiliary fleets comprising longer-range fleet support vessels designed to provide support far beyond territorial waters.


HMCS Preserver (AOR 510)
Royal Canadian Navy auxiliary oiler HMCS Preserver during New York fleet week, 2009
US Navy 070615-N-4614W-035 Amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) conducts a refueling at sea with Australian auxiliary oiler HMAS Sirius (AOR 266) as dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) approaches during exercise Talisma
Australian oiler HMAS Sirius refueling USS Essex, June 2007
USNS Furman (T-AK-280) underway off Guam 1981.JPEG
American cargo ship USNS Furman, 1981
USS Vulcan AR-5 Norfolk 1992.jpeg
American repair ship USS Vulcan, June 1992
Cuxhaven marine 01
German tugboat Wangerooge, 2005
Leeuwin at Waterhen Dec2013
Australian survey ship HMAS Leeuwin, December 2013
US Navy 031009-N-9693M-002 The U.S. Navy Barracks Craft Auxiliary Personnel Lighter Sixty One (APL-61) is moored alongside the U.S. Naval Academy's Dewey Seawall
US Navy barracks ship APL-61 in 2003
One of the most direct ways that auxiliaries support the fleet is by providing underway replenishment to major fleet units. This allows the fleet to remain on station, with the replenishment vessels bringing up fuel, ammunition, food, and supplies from shore to the fleet wherever it is operating. Oilers (AO AOG) are vessels specifically designed to bring fuel oil to the fleet, while the earlier Colliers supplied coal burning steamships. Some replenishment vessels: Combat stores ship, Depot ship, General stores issue ship and Ammunition ship (AC, AE, AF, AFS, AKE, AOE, AOR). Tenders are specifically designed to support a type of smaller naval unit, like submarines, Destroyer and seaplanes, providing a mobile base of operations for these units. Tenders: Destroyer Tender (AD), Submarine tender (AS), Seaplane Tender (AV, AVB, AVP, AVS), Torpedo boat tender (AGP) and Miscellaneous Auxiliary (AG).[3][4]
Supporting forward operating bases requires immense transportation capacity. Transports are often converted merchant ships simply commissioned (APA, APD, APH, APV) into naval service. Tankers are transports specifically designed to ship fuel to forward locations. Transports are often employed not only carrying cargo for naval support, but in support of all forces of a nation's military (AK, AKA, AKN, AKR, AKS). In particular, troopships are used to carry large number of soldiers to operational theatres. Some transport ships are highly specialized, like the ammunition ships employed by the US Navy. Large ocean tugs (AT, ATO, ATF, ATA, ATR) are used to tow large auxiliary ships, like: barges, floating repair dock and floating cranes in open sea, also disabled ships.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]
Repairing ships at sea or in forward areas is important as it allows these units to return to service quicker, while also increasing the chance of survival for ships critically damaged in battle. Repair vessels (AR, ARB, ARC, ARG, ARH, ARL, ARV) range from small equipment ships to Auxiliary repair docks, and lager Auxiliary floating drydock.[15]
Harbor support is a critical support role, with various types of vessels including tugboats, barges, lighters, derrick-crane vessels, and others, used to move ships and equipment around the port facilities, and depot ships and tenders to service ships currently in the harbor. These vessels also help maintain the harbor by dredging channels, maintaining jetties and buoys, and even providing floating platforms for port defense weapons. Tugboats are type YT, YTB, YTM, YTL or a Type V ship.[16] Barges are classified as a Type B ship or YF, YFN YFR and YFRN.[17][18]
Radar picket to increase the radar detection range around a force. Communications Relay Ships (AGMR) are floating communications stations. Tracking ship or Range Instrumentation Ship (AGM) are equipped with antennas and electronics to support the launching and tracking of missiles and rockets. Command ship (AGF) are flagships of the commander of a fleet. Wind-class icebreaker (AGB WAGB) are support ships. Rescue and salvage ship and Submarine rescue ship (ASR) for surface support ship for ship and submarine rescue. Barracks ship or Auxiliary Personal Living, (APL) are vessels-barges for service men to live on.
A wide variety of vessels are employed for research(AGTR) (AGM), Environmental Research Ships (AGER), Hydrofoil Research Ships (AGEH) and survey, primarily to provide a navy with a better understanding of its operating environment, or to assist in testing new technologies for employment in other vessels.


Hospital ship are able to provide care in remote locates.

See also



  1. ^ Cutler and Cutler, p.16
  2. ^ Morris, p.192
  3. ^ "Submarine Tenders (AS)". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  4. ^ "Other Auxiliaries(AGB, AGC, AGDS, AGEH, AGER, AGF, AGM, AGMR, AGP, AGR, AGTR)". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  5. ^ "Ocean Tugs (AT, ATO, ATF, ATA, ATR)". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  6. ^ "Oilers AO". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  7. ^ "Combat Logistics Resupply Ships AC AE AF AFS AKE AOE AOR". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  8. ^ "Cargo Ships AK AKA AKN AKS". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  9. ^ "Gasoline Tankers AOG". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  10. ^ "Destroyer Tenders AD". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  11. ^ "Aviation Support Ships AV AVP AVS". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  12. ^ "Miscellaneous Auxiliaries AG". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  13. ^ "Troop Transports (AP)". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  14. ^ "Attack and Other Transports (APA, APD, APH, APV)". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  15. ^ "Floating Dry-Docks (AFDB, AFDM, AFDL, ARD, ARDM, YFD)". 30 April 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  16. ^ "Yard Tugs Wartime YT YTB YTM YTL". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  17. ^ "Freight Lighters Wartime YF YFN YFND YFR YFRN YFRT". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  18. ^ "Freight Lighters Wartime YF YFN YFND YFR YFRN YFRT". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  19. ^ "Other Auxiliaries AGB, AGC, AGDS, AGF, AGM, AGMR, AGP, AGR". Retrieved 2019-01-23.


External links

Aditya-class auxiliary ship

The Aditya-class auxiliary ship is a class of replenishment and repair ships currently in service with the Indian Navy. The class is a modified and lengthened version of the original Deepak class. INS Aditya is the only ship in this class.

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.

Armadillo-class tanker

The Armadillo class of tankers was a class of Type Z-ET1-S-C3 Liberty tankers that were commissioned into the United States Navy. They were given the hull classification symbols of unclassified miscellaneous vessels.

This group of Liberty based tankers all served in the United States Navy during the Second World War. Each ship was commissioned in late 1943, and decommissioned in the summer of 1946. These ships primarily served in the Asian-Pacific theater of the war. They brought aviation gasoline to remote islands in the south Pacific, required for the many reconnaissance missions.

Crater-class cargo ship

Crater-class cargo ship is a category of EC2-S-C1 type liberty ship freighters constructed by the United States Maritime Commission for use by the U.S. Navy during World War II. The designation 'EC2-S-C1' was composed of 'EC' (for Emergency Cargo), '2' (for a ship between 400 and 450 feet (120 and 140 m) long (Load Waterline Length)), 'S' (for steam engines), and 'C1' for a Type C1 ship.

The class was named for the lead ship of its type, USS Crater (AK-70). Its 62 hulls was the largest among U.S. Navy cargo ship classes.

The ships were propelled by a reciprocating steam engine using a single screw with a power of 1,950 hp (1,454 kW) shaft.

Crosley-class high speed transport

Crosley-class high speed transports were high speed transport ships that served in the United States Navy during World War II. Some stayed in commission long enough to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. All of them were converted from Rudderow-class destroyer escorts during construction except for USS Bray (APD-139), which was converted a year after her construction. After World War II ended, several of the ships were sold to Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and Colombia.

Today, ARC Cordoba (DT-15), formerly USS Ruchamkin (APD-89) is the only surviving member of the class, preserved as a museum ship in Tocancipa, Colombia.

Destroyer tender

A destroyer tender, or destroyer depot ship in British English, is an auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships. The use of this class has faded from its peak in the first half of the 20th century as the roles of small combatants have evolved (in conjunction with technological advances in propulsion reliability and efficiency).

Fighter catapult ship

Fighter catapult ships also known as Catapult Armed Ships were an attempt by the Royal Navy to provide air cover at sea. Five ships were acquired and commissioned as Naval vessels early in the Second World War and these were used to accompany convoys.

The concept was extended to merchant ships which were also equipped with rocket assisted launch systems and known as Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen (CAM ships).

Italian auxiliary ship Olterra

The auxiliary ship Olterra was a 5,000 ton Italian tanker scuttled by her own crew at Algeciras in the Bay of Gibraltar on 10 June 1940, after the entry of Italy in World War II. She was recovered in 1942 by a special unit of the Decima Flottiglia MAS to be used as an undercover base for manned torpedoes in order to attack Allied shipping at Gibraltar.

List of Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship names

The following is a list of Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship names by name in alphabetical order, both past and present. Many of the names have been re-used over the years and thus represent more than one ship.

List of auxiliary ship classes in service

The list of auxiliary ship classes in service includes all auxiliary ships in naval service in the world. For combatant ships, see the list of naval ship classes in service.

Motor torpedo boat tender

Motor torpedo boat tender is a type of ship used by the U.S. Navy during World War II and Vietnam War. The motor torpedo boat tender's task was to act as a tender in remote areas for patrol boats (PT-boats) and to provide the necessary fuel and provisions for the torpedo boats she was responsible for. The type finds its root in the torpedo boat tender, developed in the 19th century.

This type of ship was classified as "AGP" and is sometimes called a "patrol craft tender."

Natick-class tugboat

The Natick class is a class of harbor tugboats that have been active since the 1960s. Members of the class are named for Native American peoples and their members, USS Redwing excepted. As of 1 April 2015, five to eight Natick-class tugs remain in active service. Members of this class were designed to SCB-147A.

Net laying ship

A net laying ship, also known as a net layer, net tender, gate ship or boom defence vessel was a type of small auxiliary ship.

A net layer's primary function was to lay and maintain steel anti-torpedo or anti-submarine nets. Nets could be laid around an individual ship at anchor, or around harbors or other anchorages. Net laying was potentially dangerous work, and net laying seamen were experts at dealing with blocks, tackles, knots and splicing. As World War II progressed, net layers were pressed into a variety of additional roles including salvage, troop and cargo transport, buoy maintenance, and service as tugboats.

RFA Sir Geraint (L3027)

RFA Sir Geraint (L3027) was a Landing Ship Logistic of the Round Table class. She saw service in the Falklands War and Sierra Leone.

RFA Tidespring (A75)

RFA Tidespring (A75) was a Tide-class replenishment oiler of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. As a replenishment oiler, her main purpose was to refuel other ships. The ship had a long career in the RFA, entering service in the early 1960s, and finally being decommissioned in 1991.

Tidespring took part in the Falklands War, particularly in the recapture of South Georgia. At the time, she was carrying M Company (Captain Chris Nunn Royal Marines) of 42 Commando Royal Marines. The ship accommodated prisoners of war taken during operations. The Falklands provided a reprieve of ten years for Tidespring which had been due to decommission in 1982.

She eventually sailed from Portsmouth in tow on 20 March 1992 for the breakers, arriving in Alang, India for demolition on 2 July 1992.

RMAS Goosander (A164)

RMAS Goosander (A164) was a mooring, salvage and boom vessel of the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service. She saw service in the Falklands War. She has a sister ship, RMAS Pochard, and was built by Robb Caledon Shipbuilders in Leith.

Repair ship

A repair ship is a naval auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to warships. Repair ships provide similar services to destroyer, submarine and seaplane tenders or depot ships, but may offer a broader range of repair capability including equipment and personnel for repair of more significant machinery failures or battle damage.

Type C3-class ship

Type C3-class ships were the third type of cargo ship designed by the United States Maritime Commission (MARCOM) in the late 1930s. As it had done with the Type C1 ships and Type C2 ships, MARCOM circulated preliminary plans for comment. The design presented was not specific to any service or trade route, but was a general purpose ship that could be modified for specific uses.

The C3 was larger and faster than the C1 and C2 contemporaries, measuring 492 feet (150 m) from stem to stern (vs. 459 feet (140 m) for the C2), and designed to make 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph) (vs. 15.5 kn (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph) for the C2). Like the C2, it had five cargo holds. A total of 465 of these ships were built between 1940 and 1947.

During World War II, many C3 ships were converted to naval uses, particularly as Bogue-class escort carriers, and as Windsor-class and Bayfield-class attack transports, Klondike-class destroyer tenders, submarine tenders, and seaplane tenders.

Valiant-class harbor tug

The Valiant class is a class of US Navy yard tugboats that entered service in 2009. These tugs are designed to provide ship assist, barge and general towing, and escort services.

Aircraft carriers
Patrol craft
Fast attack craft
Mine warfare
Command and support


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