Cancelled 1950s Aluminum Hull USN Ocean Minesweeper?

TinWing

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There is a reference in Norman Friedman's "U.S. Amphibious Ships" to a canceled 225 ft. ocean minesweeper that was related to the singleton unit USS Carronade in terms of hull form. Aluminum hull construction would have made a great deal of sense as it was very obviously amagnetic and less maintenance intensive than a wooden planked hull - something that is very important for ship type that would typically spend years in reserve or mothballed status.

Does anyone have any more information on this aluminum ocean minesweeper project?
 

nxx_2002

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Carronade was a rocket launching ship to be used to provide shore bombardment. During WW2 the US Navy used modified landing craft to fire unguided rockets ashore in massive volume, particularly in the Pacific theater. If I am not mistaken Carronade was a one of a kind purpose built ship with multiple launchers for that purpose.
 

nxx_2002

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Oops sorry. I am sure you know what U.S.S. Carronade was. I had the pleasure of talking to an officer that served on a US Navy Minesweeper. Brass engine fittings!

I have read a lot about US Navy ships but until now have not heard anything about ocean going aluminum hull ships.
 

Abraham Gubler

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TinWing said:
Does anyone have any more information on this aluminum ocean minesweeper project?

I suspect the answer may be in this book:

“U.S. Small Combatants, Including Pt-Boats, Subchasers, and the Brown-Water Navy: An Illustrated Design History” by Norman Friedman

http://www.amazon.com/Combatants-Including-Pt-Boats-Subchasers-Brown-Water/dp/0870217135/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3PBT8RROXLU7&colid=3RUQGTUGD57DC

However I haven’t seen a copy – yet…

I would suspect but that the problem for the US Navy in the 1950-60s is that building larger ship hulls robust enough for the deep seas out of aluminium was quite difficult. It took a specific Government industry investment and technology development program in the 1980s for Australia to develop its aluminium ship building industry (Austal, Incat, etc). And its only now 40+ years later that we are seeing aluminium hulled MCM ships with the LCS classes.
 

TinWing

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Abraham Gubler said:
TinWing said:
Does anyone have any more information on this aluminum ocean minesweeper project?

I suspect the answer may be in this book:

“U.S. Small Combatants, Including Pt-Boats, Subchasers, and the Brown-Water Navy: An Illustrated Design History” by Norman Friedman

http://www.amazon.com/Combatants-Including-Pt-Boats-Subchasers-Brown-Water/dp/0870217135/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3PBT8RROXLU7&colid=3RUQGTUGD57DC

However I haven’t seen a copy – yet…

I would suspect but that the problem for the US Navy in the 1950-60s is that building larger ship hulls robust enough for the deep seas out of aluminium was quite difficult. It took a specific Government industry investment and technology development program in the 1980s for Australia to develop its aluminium ship building industry (Austal, Incat, etc). And its only now 40+ years later that we are seeing aluminium hulled MCM ships with the LCS classes.

I'm very familiar with Friedman's "U.S. Small Combatants," but that book doesn't deal with minesweepers. Actually, I'd be hard pressed to think of a definitive book on that topic. There of course was the recent title "Wooden ships and iron men: the U.S. Navy's ocean minesweepers, 1953-1994," but I'm not sure that there's any reference to the successor aluminum hulled ocean minesweeper that would have been a follow on to the Agile class?

Aluminum ship construction wasn't all that mysterious by the 1950s, although all aluminum hull construction might not have compared favorably in terms of cost with the composite aluminum frame/wooden plank hull construction. The material costs are obviously quite expensive in comparison to steel and aluminum welding tends to be somewhat more specialized. I'm inclined to say the technical issues were rather minor and that the cancellation must have been tied to changing priorities rather than the issue of aluminum hull construction itself.

To put the issue in perspective, the RN cancelled the much better known 1955 Ocean Minesweeper in this period, although as far as I know, that was a conventional steel hulled ship similar in many respects to the earlier Algerine class. The USN was apparently much more concerned about amagnetic construction in this period?
 

Abraham Gubler

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TinWing said:
I'm very familiar with Friedman's "U.S. Small Combatants," but that book doesn't deal with minesweepers. Actually, I'd be hard pressed to think of a definitive book on that topic. There of course was the recent title "Wooden ships and iron men: the U.S. Navy's ocean minesweepers, 1953-1994," but I'm not sure that there's any reference to the successor aluminum hulled ocean minesweeper that would have been a follow on to the Agile class?

Thanks for the insight.

TinWing said:
Well how many 1,000 tonne displacement aluminium hulls were being built in the 1950s? None. In the 1960s a lot of fast patrol boats were built with aluminium hulls but they were much smaller (100-200 tonnes) and not designed for seep sea operations (additional stength). Such a ship would have required some prototyping and additional investment compared to a more conventional minesweeper design.

While no doubt changing priorities had a lot to do with this ship not being built – the USN only built a handful of ocean going minesweepers after the Agile class – the additional technology challenge of aluminium meant that the Acme and Ability classes were wooden.
 

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