Three closely related ships shared many features with the other freighter conversions which followed, and may be considered half-sisters to those ships. A seaplane working deck was fitted aft of the bridge superstructure, raised one level above the main deck. A single large seaplane crane was fitted aft of the seaplane deck, at the extreme stern. The overall appearance and configuration of these ships was not drastically altered from the freighter appearance.
The first two units of this class were freighters Maritime Commission C3-Cargo(S) taken over and converted to seaplane tenders during construction in order to fill an immediate need for additional tenders. The second Tangier was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 51) as Sea Arrow on 18 March 1939 at Oakland, Calif., by Moore Dry Dock Co., launched on 15 September 1939. She was renamed Tangier (AV-8) on 3 June 1940, acquired by the Navy on 8 July 1940; and commissioned in ordinary on that same day. Tangier remained at Oakland for over a year, undergoing conversion to a seaplane tender. Finally, on 25 August 1941, she went into full commission and put to sea on her shakedown cruise.
The Chandeleur heavy seaplane tender continued the C3-to-AV conversion program. It was almost identical to the Tangier class, but used C3-S-B1 hull and featured only a single crane over the foredeck.
A further seven Maritime Commission C3-Special (S) type cargo ships were earmarked for conversion to seaplane tenders in 1942-43; these numbered AV-14 thru 20. AV-14 thru 17 commissioned mid-to-late 1944. AV-19 and 20 were cancelled in October 1944 and their hulls marked for construction of Arrow Head (AD-35) and Bryce Canyon (AD-36); both destroyer tenders. AV-18 was cancelled on 11 August 1945 when the war ended. The lead ship of the class, Kenneth Whiting (AV-14) saw a recommissioning period from 1951-58, however, AV-15, 16, and 17 were placed in reserve immediately after World War II and disposed of in the early 1960s.
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