HMAS
Air Spray

Class
Air/Sea Search and Rescue Vessel
Type
Air-Sea Rescue Launch
Pennant
ASR 911 Y259 02-102
Builder
Harbor Boat Building Co, USA.
Commissioned
13 February 1945
Decommissioned
16 September 1946
Fate
Sold in 1969
Dimensions & Displacement
Displacement 24 tons
Length 63
Beam 15 ft (4.57m)
Draught 3
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 Spray was one of 21 air/ sea rescue 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 Spray alongside HMAS Cerberus, Westernport, Victoria disembarking boy scouts after a day at sea. Note that in this image she is wearing her RAAF pennant number 02-102
Air Spray alongside HMAS Cerberus, Westernport, Victoria disembarking boy scouts after a day at sea. Note that in this image she is wearing her RAAF pennant number 02-102

Air Spray was commissioned on 13 February 1945 in Sydney under the command of Sub-Lieutenant William Bath, RANVR, and officially listed as a tender to HMAS Magnetic, and later to HMAS Carpentaria. Her first few weeks of commission were spent at Garden Island in Sydney preparing for sea and conducting trials before proceeding to Jervis Bay in April to conduct ASR duties.

She departed Sydney on 4 May in company with HMAS Air Sense bound for Townsville where they arrived on 16 May. She conducted ASR duties in the Townsville area until both Air Spray and Air Sense were ordered to proceed to Thursday Island in June for slipping and maintenance. Air Spray remained in the area for the rest of the year and into 1946 conducting ASR duties between Thursday Island and the RAAF airstrip, Higgins Field, at Red Island Point south of Bamaga, Queensland. Through the second half of February 1946 she was involved in the search for a missing aircraft in the Lloyd Bay area. The aircraft was eventually located inland.

Higgins Field closed in April and Air Spray began passage back to Sydney on 8 May. Inclement weather followed her down the Queensland coast and she grazed the edge of Middle Reef on 16 May damaging part of a propeller shaft. She arrived at Townsville shortly after the incident where she was slipped and the decision was made not to effect repairs. She was taken in tow by HMAS Barwon on 28 June and arrived in Sydney on 1 July where she decommissioned on 16 September.

She was transferred to the RAAF in 1949. She was returned to the RAN in 1965 and was listed as a miscellaneous auxiliary allocated to HMAS Cerberus. She was sold on 28 August 1969.

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