The Auxiliary repair dock was actually a floating drydock, which could, by design, provide drydock facility to damaged Navy vessels. Floating drydocks of this type were approximately 500-foot (150 m) long and weighted about 5,000 tons.
Several floating drydocks of this type have been given names, such as USS West Milton (ARD-7), but most of them have no name, only class designations, such as USS ARD-1.
Floating drydocks, of this and other types, were capable of flooding themselves, opening up a bow door to permit a damaged vessel to enter. Once the damaged vessel was within the bounds of the floating drydock, and the door was closed, the water was pumped out of the floating drydock, permitting repair work to be performed on the damaged vessel. Such work in battle areas was often of a temporary nature, primarily to return the damaged vessel to seaworthy condition.
Once the damaged vessel was sufficiently repaired, the floating drydock was flooded, the door opened, and the repaired vessel allowed to depart for further duty or assignment.
While the damaged vessel was being repaired, the drydock was capable of providing the crew of the damaged ship with temporary necessities, such as meals, laundry, some supplies, and, in a limited number of cases, berthing for crew members. (When possible, the crew of the damaged ship remained on their ship while structural repair was being accomplished.)