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Seaplane tenders were ships equipped to refuel, rearm, and repair seaplanes and flying boats. They could be stationed at any sizeable body of protected water where seaplanes could land and take off. They were particularly useful early in the war, when bases for conventional reconnaissance aircraft were few and far between.
planners saw the seaplane tender as a way to get around the fortifications clause of
Treaty, which prohibited any further development of bases in
the western Pacific. The seaplane tenders were seen as mobile
bases for maintaining the aircraft of the Asiatic Fleet without
violating the fortifications clause, since their repair facilities
would be entirely afloat. Consideration was even given to putting
small flight decks on the tenders, but this was rejected as an
almost certain violation of the treaty. However, construction of
large seaplane tenders was slow due to tight naval budgets, and
when more money became available, the Navy gave priority to
constructing conventional aircraft carriers up
to the treaty limits.
States Navy classified fast seaplane tenders
(converted destroyers) and
separately from generic seaplane tenders. The Japanese Navy likewise
distinguished seaplane carriers
from ordinary seaplane tenders.
Kenneth Whiting class
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