AIR-SEA RESCUE BOATS
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY
DURING WW2

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The design for the Air Sea Rescue boats was based on an American anti-submarine boat which had been modified for rescue operations. They were mainly used to rescue crews from Allied aircraft which ditched in the sea. All Air Sea Rescue boats had a sick bay at the rear of the boat. They were mostly stationed in northern Australian waters or in New Guinea.

Twenty Air Sea Rescue Boats were ordered through Admiralty Requisition Number BAD (Aust) 2714, Authority ACNB. 270611 dated 4th March 1944 signed by R. Millar. They arrived as deck cargo on 5 ships eventually to Sydney June/July 1944.

 

ASR Boat Commissioned US Hull No. Maker From USA on ship Arrived Australia Area of Service
HMAS Air Bird 915 28 Mar 45 C26670 Harbor Boat Building Co., Terminal Beach, California MV Kookaburra   SWPA - Madang, Wewak
HMAS Air Chief 918 12 Aug 44 C26688 Fellows & Stewart, Wilmington, California SS Parrakoola Jun/July 1944 N.G. Madang
HMAS Air Clan 922 11 Dec 44 C26697 Harbor Boat Building Co., Terminal Beach, California MV Laponia   SWPA Labuan, Kuching
HMAS Air Cloud 924 20 Oct 44 C26671 Harbor Boat Building Co., Terminal Beach, California SS Mirrabooka   Darwin/West Bay
HMAS Air Faith 909 8 Feb 45 C26647 South Coast Co., Newport Beach, California Cecil G. Sellars   N.G. Jacquinot Bay, Torokina
HMAS Air Foam 912 20 Sep 44 C26648 South Coast Co., Newport Beach, California MV Kookaburra   N.G. Jacquinot Bay, Torokina
HMAS Air Guide 913 20 Oct 44 C26677 Fellows & Stewart, Wilmington, California ?   SWPA Tarakan NEI
HMAS Air Hope 908  13 Feb 45 C26646 South Coast Co., Newport Beach, California Cecil G. Sellars   N.G. Port Moresby
HMAS Air Hope 913
renamed HMAS Air Guide
20 Oct 44     MV Kookaburra   Tarakan, Morotai NEI
HMAS Air Master 919 31 Aug 44 C26689 Fellows & Stewart, Wilmington, California SS Parrakoola Jun/July 1944 Balikpapan, Borneo NEI
HMAS Air Mercy 925   C26691 Fellows & Stewart, Wilmington, California SS Mirrabooka   Biak, Dutch New Guinea
HMAS Air Mist 917 20 Sep 44 C26687 Fellows & Stewart, Wilmington, California MV Kookaburra Jun/July 1944 Balikpapan, Borneo NEI
HMAS Air Rest 921 20 Sep 44 C26696 Harbor Boat Building Co., Terminal Beach, California SS Parrakoola Jun/July 1944 SWPA, Tarakan, Balikpapan
HMAS Air Sailor 926 8 Nov 44 C26692 Fellows & Stewart, Wilmington, California SS Mirrabooka   Darwin/West Bay - Kimberleys
HMAS Air Save 920 20 Sep 44 C26690 Fellows & Stewart, Wilmington, California SS Parrakoola   Morotai, Halmaheras NEI
HMAS Air Sense 914 1 Mar 45 C26669 Harbor Boat Building Co., Terminal Beach, California MV Kookaburra   Townsville/Thursday Island
HMAS Air Speed 910 20 Feb 45 C26678 Fellows & Stewart, Wilmington, California Cecil G. Sellars   Madang/Jacquinot Bay
HMAS Air Spray 911 13 Feb 45 C26668 Harbor Boat Building Co., Terminal Beach, California Cecil G. Sellars   Thursday Island, Red Island Point
HMAS Air Trail 916 8 Feb 45 C26686 Fellows & Stewart, Wilmington, California MV Kookaburra   Biak, Dutch New Guinea
HMAS Air View 923 20 Nov 44 C26683 Fellows & Stewart, Wilmington, California MV Laponia Jun 1944 Darwin/West Bay
HMAS Air Watch 927 27 Nov 44 C26698 Harbor Boat Building Co., Terminal Beach, California SS Mirrabooka   Madang, Aitape, Morotai, Labuan
HMAS Air Wave 912
renamed HMAS Air Foam
20 Sep 44         Manus/Biak/Rabaul

 

Typical Navy crew comprised (7 or 8 personnel)

Lieutenant or Sub Lieutenant Commanding Officer
Leading Seaman Coxswain
Leading Stoker or Stoker or Petty Officer Engine Room Artificer (1)
Leading Stoker or Stoker or Petty Officer Engine Room Artificer (2)
Able Bodied Seamen 2 Seamen
Sergeant (WAG) 2 RAAF Signaller or 1 RAN Telegraphist

 

Specifications for ASR Boats:-

Displacement      23 tons
Dimensions         OA Length 63 feet  Beam 15.3 feet
Draft                   4 feet
Engines              Two Hall Scott Defender 630 HP, V 12 Motors (petrol)
Speed                33.5 knots
Range                14.5 hours
Fuel                   1200 gallons.
                          20 knots 56 gal @ 1500 revs.
                          33 knots 110 gal @ 2100 revs.
Armament           Two 0.5 inch MGs ( 2 x 2)
Design                ARB  Aircraft Rescue Boats.

All ASR Boats were painted with a black hull on the sides with dark red below the water line and a white water line if needed. The decks, all superstructure sides and roof were painted yellow.

915 Air Bird 918 Air Chief (Y252) 922 Air Clan
924 Air Cloud 902 Air Faith (Y258) 912 Air Foam
913 Air Guide (Y260) 908 Air Hope 913 Air Host
919 Air Master 925 Air Mercy 917 Air Mist
Air Nymph (Y257) 921 Air Rest 926 Air Sailor
920 Air Save 914 Air Sense 910 Air Speed
911 Air Spray (Y259) 916 Air Trail 923 Air View
927 Air Watch 912 Air Wave  

In 1946 a proposal was announced to transfer 15 ASR Boats to the RAAF. At the stage 19 boats had been commissioned. One boat Air Mist had been wrecked by that time. 13 ASR Boats were finally transferred to the RAAF in about 1949. After WW2 the remaining RAN boats were redesignated as Search and Rescue vessels.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Hubert Davis for his assistance with this web page. Hubert Davis served on HMAS Air Save and Air Chief for 2 years (September 1944 to October 1946)

 

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 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 23 February 2008

This page last updated 27 October 2008