Antisubmarine nets were a common harbor and anchorage defense system during World War II, and the U.S. Navy ordered 77 new-construction ships in three similar classes to act as net tenders, initially in the YN hull number series and then redesignated AN and renumbered in January 1944. All wore a characteristic pair of bow “horns” to support running rigging intended to maneuver the heavy, float-supported steel nets, while winches fore and aft made the vessels valuable also as salvage ships and tugs. Five of the Ailanthus (AN-38-77) class were completed without the horns as auxiliary ocean tugs ATA-214-218, and the final five ships of the class were transferred to Great Britain under Lend Lease. AN-1-4 were completed as vehicle carriers, while AN-5 was the former coastal minelayer Keokuk (ex-CM-8), redesignated later as AKN-4.
The Teak (AN-35, ex-YN-30) (top right) typifies the late war appearance of the 1940 program Aloe (AN-6-37, ex-YN-l-32)-class, steel-hulled ships of 700 tons full-load displacement completed in 1941-43. Note the 3-inch 50-caliber gun mounted between the foremast and the pilothouse, four single 20-mm cannon, and two depth-charge mortars on the rounded stern. Many ships of this class had to have their planned names changed to avoid confusion with buoy tenders of the same name in the U.S. Coast Guard. The Teak worked at Panama and San Francisco before transferring to the Southwest Pacific; she was placed in reserve in 1946 and scrapped in 1976.
The 30 wooden-construction net tenders of the 1942 program Ailanthus (AN-38-77) class were far larger than the Aloes, displacing up to 1,400 tons full load and being nearly 195 feet long as compared to 152 feet for the earlier class. The layout was similar, but the Ailanthus class could be distinguished by their prominent exhaust stack, single tall mast, and larger bow horns. Catclaw (AN-60, ex-YN-81) was commissioned five weeks before this February 1944 photograph. The Whitewood (AN-63) became AG-129 in 1946 and was used until 1949 for Arctic exploration.
The 15 Cohoes (AN-78-92)-class ships of the 1943 program commemorated the names of Civil War monitors. Steel hulled, they displaced 75 tons more than the similar Aloe class and were 16 feet longer; they could be distinguished by the aft placement of the 3-inch gun. All three classes had single-screw, diesel-electric propulsion plants. The Waxsaw (AN-91, ex-YN-130), seen here in the 1950s, was commissioned in May 1945; she was transferred to Venezuela in 1963.