Vulcan-class repair ship, USS Ajax (AR-6) (1946) - A fat Fletcher

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USS Ajax at San Diego, California. Circa 1943-45. This is prior her first refit.

USS Ajax was the second ship of the Vulcan-class repair ship. She was laid down on 7 May 1941 at Los Angeles Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, San Pedro, California, launched on 22 August 1942, and commissioned on 30 October 1943.

The ship arrived at Pearl Harbour on 9 December, and was assigned to tending smaller vessels in preparation for their voyage to the Marshall Islands. She was also tasked to clean up what was still left of the Pearl Harbour attack. After repair her own fire damage in January 1944, she sailed to Majuro until 13 June, when she sailed for Eniwetok. At one point during her stay, she tended 19 cruisers and 9 battleships by herself.

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USS Ajax, as seen from the stern.

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Layout scheme of the USS Vulcan (AR-5), Ajax’s sister ship in 1940 configuration. The full version of this image will be linked in the sources.

After dealing with the outbreak of dysentery between August to October, Ajax set sail again to Ulithi to resume her job. Shortly after her arrival, she was tasked to repair the heavy cruiser USS Canberra (CA-70) after suffered major torpedo damage off the coast of Formosa. She stayed there until mid-1945, supporting operations in Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. On 25 May, she steamed to Leyte-Samar naval base in preparation for the final assault on Japan.

After the Japanese surrender in August, Ajax was tasked to transport the occupation forces to the Japanese home islands. A month later, she sailed for Okinawa to repair ships damaged by a typhoon until 28 November, when she sailed back to the United States with 800 passengers. After arrived at San Diego on December, she was immidiately sent for her first refit, replacing four .50 Browning MG with 8 x 40 mm Bofors and 8x 20 Oerlikon autocannons for her anti-aircraft armament.

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The Ajax after her first refit in late 1940s. Note the placement of the Bofors and Oerlikon autocannons on the ship.

Shortly after Ajax completed the refit, she sailed for the Bikini Atoll to participate in Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests. The ship was used as a floating labotary to study the effect of radiation poisoning on subject animals. During the tests, two bombs were detonated 8 km and 6 km away from the ship. In 1951, she sailed to Sasebo, Japan to serve as a repair center for the US and allies, servicing various ships involved in the Korean War.

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The Ajax and a trio of the Fletcher-class destroyers, Sasebo, Japan, 1952. From left to right; USS The Sullivans (DD-537); USS McGowan (DD-678); USS Lewis Hancock (DD-675) and South Korean frigate Imchin (# 66, ex USS Sausalito, PF-4).

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The same group of ships as above, but in different angle.

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The Ajax in 1984, all of her armaments were removed at this point.

During the Vietnam War, Ajax became the flagship of the 3rd Service Squadron. She was assigned to tend several ships off the coast of Vietnam. After passing the flag to her sister ship USS Hector (AR-7), she sailed back to Pearl Harbour and continued her routine of sailing between Sasebo, Taipei, and San Diego. The ship mostly served as a recreational spot for the Navy servicemen aside from her usual maintenance work. In 1977, she received the final overhaul to remove all of her armanents. The Ajax served until 1986 until she was eventually decommissioned, ending her 43-year career. Her hull were in a mothball state until 1997 when she was finally scrapped.

As none of the repair ships are currently present in War Thunder, I think the Ajax would be a great addition to the game, primarily due to her good armaments and survivability. While the ship is fairly slow and barely armoured, she features more crews than any other cruisers in game except the USS Baltimore. Being a repair ship crewed with a delicated engineers in real life, I think the ship should have a repair bonus for herself and allies, similar to the engineer vehicles in the ground forces.

Specifications (1946):

Note: Source seems to be conflicting on the “exact” AA armaments of the ship, so I will list the armaments on board on the ship present in their photo.

Displacement: 16,460 tons full load

Length: 161.37 meters

Beam: 22.35 meters

Draft: 7.11 meters

Polpusion system: 4 boilers, 2 steam turbines, 2 propeller shafts, 11,000 shp (8.2 MW)

Power: 11,000 shp (8.2 MW)

Top speed: 19.2 knots (35.6 km/h)

Armament: 4 x 1 5-inch/38 (127 mm) Mark 12 dual purposes cannons, A-Bs-Xs-Y setup, 4 x 2 40 mm Bofors autocannons, two at bridge and two at aft deck each, 4 x 2 20 mm Oerlikon autocannons, at front of the bridge.

Crew: 1,297

Sources:

Spoiler

Ajax IV (AR-6)

Repair Ship Photo Index (AR)

USS Vulcan, James River Reserve Fleet, Newport News, Independent City, VA

Outboard Profile, Inboard Profile - USS Vulcan, James River Reserve Fleet, Newport News, Independent City, VA

USS Ajax (AR-6) - Wikipedia

1 Like

That looks so silly and absurdly hard to use as a fighting ship, therefore I love it. +1