HMAS
Air Mist

Class
Air/Sea Search and Rescue Vessel
Type
Air-Sea Rescue Launch
Pennant
ASR 917
Builder
Fellows & Stewart Inc, USA
Commissioned
20 September 1944
Decommissioned
19 December 1945
Fate
Ran aground and lost
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 24 tons
Length 63ft (19.2m)
Beam 15 ft (4.57m)
Draught 3 ft 4 in (1.01m)
Performance
Speed Up to 28 knots
Complement
Crew 7-8 including 2 RAAF telegraphists
Propulsion
Machinery Twin Hall-Scott petrol engines
Horsepower 1,200 bhp
Armament
Guns 2 x twin Lewis guns

HMAS Air Mist was one of 21 air/ sea rescue (ASR) vessels originally built in the USA and Canada between 1943 and 1945, and transferred to the RAN under their Lend-Lease Agreement. These vessels were originally designed as anti-submarine craft but their high speed and manoeuvrability made them ideal as search and rescue vessels. In this role, their hulls were painted black and their upper decks and superstructure painted bright yellow. One vessel, HMAS Air Sprite, was built locally in 1960 to an almost identical design.

Air Mist was commissioned on 20 September 1944 in Sydney under the command of Skipper (later Sub-Lieutenant, RANVR) James Needle and officially listed as a tender to HMAS Rushcutter, and later to HMAS Madang. She remained alongside in Sydney preparing for sea until 1 March 1945 when she proceeded for Jervis Bay, and on 10 March commenced passage northwards bound for Morotai, Indonesia, in company with HMAS Air Save and was joined by HMA Ships Air Wave and Air Host in Brisbane.

She arrived at Morotai on 3 June, having conducted part of the passage under tow by MV Comara in tandem with HMAS Air Master, and commenced ASR duties but at the end of the month was once again re-allocated to Balikpapan. She departed Morotai on 28 June under tow from HMAS Cootamundra, again in tandem with Air Master, and arrived at Balikpapan on 3 July. She conducted normal ASR duties at Balipapan through to November.

Air Mist’s return to Australia began on 22 November being taken in tow that afternoon by HMAS Inverell in tandem yet again with Air Master. They arrived in Brisbane on 14 December where HMAS Geraldton took up the tow. On 18 December Air Mist’s tow parted and she drifted away in a northerly direction. Attempts to resume the tow were unsuccessful and Air Mist was abandoned the following morning as she drifted dangerously close to rocks off Morna Point, Air Master taking off her crew before she ran aground.

A general arrangement plan of the Air class search & rescue vessels
A general arrangement plan of the Air class search & rescue vessels