HMAS Air Sailor
Air/Sea Search and Rescue Vessel
Air-Sea Rescue Launch
Fellows & Stewart Inc, USA
8 November 1944
31 August 1946
Transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1949
|Dimensions & Displacement|
|Draught||3 ft 4 in (1.01m)|
|Speed||Up to 28 knots|
|Crew||7-8 including 2 RAAF telegraphists|
|Machinery||Twin Hall-Scott petrol engines|
|Guns||2 x twin Lewis guns|
HMAS Air Sailor 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 the 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 Sailor was commissioned on 8 November 1944 in Sydney under the command of Sub-Lieutenant Thomas Naylor, RANVR, and officially listed as a tender to HMAS Rushcutter, and later to HMAS Melville. She remained alongside in Rushcutter’s Bay immediately after commissioning awaiting the installation of additional radio equipment and preparing for sea. Following trials and inspection of underwater fittings, she finally put to sea on 13 March 1945 and proceeded to Jervis Bay for exercises.
She departed Sydney, in company with her sister ship HMAS Air Cloud, in the early hours of 24 March bound for Darwin and arrived in Coffs Harbour in heavy weather later that day. The two boats remained weatherbound at Coffs Harbour for nearly two weeks. They departed on 5 April only to be forced to return to Coffs Harbour due to a broken spindle drive shaft in Air Sailor’s water pump. They continued their northerly passage on 7 April.
Air Sailor and Air Cloud departed Brisbane on 22 April, joined by HMAS Air Trail, their passage north continuing to be hampered by poor weather. Air Sailor arrived at Darwin on 22 May. She remained in northern Australian waters conducting ASR and other auxiliary duties until February 1946 and participated in the unsuccessful search for a missing Spitfire and its pilot on 1 August 1945.
She departed Darwin on 2 February 1946 and arrived in Brisbane in early March where she decommissioned on 31 August 1946. She was transferred to the RAAF in 1949.