Information provided by: The Navy Historical Center
During the 1920s, several World War I "Bird" type minesweepers (AM) were assigned the mission of caring for the Navy's numerous seaplanes. They retained their AM series hull numbers for many years, but in January 1936 nine "Bird-Boats" were redesignated Small Seaplane Tenders and given new hull numbers ranging from AVP-1 through AVP-9.
The type proved useful, particularly in the light of a Pacific Ocean strategy that required widely-deployed seaplane detachments to search for enemy naval forces, and in 1938 construction of seven newly-designed small seaplane tenders was authorized. These became AVPs 10-13 and 21-23, completed in 1941-43, the first of the ultimately very large Barnegat class. At about the same time, in 1938 and 1939, seven World War I era "flush-deck & four-pipe" destroyers were reclassified as small seaplane tenders, numbered AVP 14-20, and converted to fit them for the mission. These ex-destroyers were all again reclassified in August 1940, becoming Seaplane Tenders (Destroyer), or AVD.
The Navy's great expansion of 1940-41 generated a program to built another forty-four Barnegat class AVPs, nine authorized in June 1940 (AVPs 23-32) and thirty-five in December 1941, just after the United States formally entered the fighting (AVPs 33-67). Sixteen of these were cancelled in late 1942 and in 1943, but the remaining twenty-eight were completed 1943-46, four of them as motor torpedo boat tenders (AGP 6-9).
The small seaplane tenders saw wide use as aviation support ships during and after the Second World War. Some of the handy-sized Barnegats were converted for other missions, among them surveying ships (AGS), oceanographic research ships (AGOR) and flagships for the Middle Eastern Force. Many were transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard, one to the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and others joined foreign Navies, including those of Ethopia, Italy, Norway, the Republic of Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Published in U S Legacies March 2004