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USS Atascosa (AO-66) on 14 March 1943
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Class:        ATASCOSA (AO-66)
Design        Tanker, 1942
Displacement (tons):        6,043 light, 24,660 lim.
Dimensions (feet):        547.25' oa, 521.0' wl x 70.0' e x 31.0 lim.
Original Armament:        1-5"/51 4-3"/50 12-20mm (1942)
Later armament:        1-5"/38 4-3"/50 12-20mm (1942); 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 2-40mmT 12-20mm (1943, see class notes)
Complement        223 (1944)
Speed (kts.):        15.5
Propulsion (HP):        8,200
Machinery:        1 screw, Westinghouse turbine

AO Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
66 ATASCOSA 12 Oct 42 Sun SB & DD 30 Apr 42 7 Sep 42 9 Nov 42

AO Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
66 ATASCOSA 21 Jan 46 7 Feb 46 1 Jul 46 MC 3 Oct 47

Class Notes:
FY 1943. In 1940 and 1941 the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. built a series of seven large (521 feet on the waterline) single-screw tankers propelled by 7,500 hp diesel engines that produced rated speeds between 15.0 and 15.2 knots. Sun followed these with a class of six ships with the same hull dimensions but with steam turbine machinery of 9,020 hp and a rated speed of 15.5 knots. The Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, which had purchased five of the motor ships, bought the first four of the steam vessels. Of these the first three, ESSO ROCHESTER, ESSO BUFFALO, and ESSO RICHMOND (II) served with the company. The Navy took over the fourth, ESSO COLUMBIA, upon her completion. This class was followed by the somewhat smaller and faster ships of the ESSO ALBANY (II) class, of which the Navy took over the first two as AO 34-35 (q.v.)

By mid-1942 the Navy faced a situation in which the rapid increase in the number of Naval ships being placed in service and contemplated, the vast expanse of operating areas, the wide dispersal of fleet units, and the urgent need for ample fuel supply had outpaced the building and acquisition of tankers for the Navy. In addition the directive creating the Army-Navy Petroleum Board made the Navy responsible for procuring and operating such tankers as are required solely for the movement of cargoes of Army and/or Navy petroleum supplies. The only readily available sources of supply for additional tankers for the Navy were those now building by the MC and a limited number being built for private account. On 30 Jun 42 VCNO recommended that commencing August 1942 the Navy acquire every month for a period of one year two new tankers of the T2-SE-A1 type. CominCh approved this recommendation on 12 Jul 42 but suggested incorporating tankers having a greater speed if possible. On 14 Jul 42 VCNO referred the matter to the Auxiliary Vessels Board with a list of all the tankers scheduled for delivery to the MC during the following year, including 40 T2-SE-A1 ships at Sun and seven of the faster T3-S-A1 vessels building at Bethlehem Sparrows Point. He recommended acquiring all seven of the T3's and making up the balance of 17 ships from the 40 T2's at Sun. On 7 Aug 42 the Auxiliary Vessels Board strongly recommended this course of action, with the exception that it included seven vessels building on private account in its list of 24 hulls to be acquired.

On 26 Aug 42 the MC agreed to a delivery schedule for the first 12 hulls that included a single private ship from Sun (AO-66). The Navy asked the MC to deliver all 12 ships to conversion yards in the Baltimore area designated by the Navy. The conversion work, consisting primarily of the installation of fueling-at-sea gear, installation of armament, and an increase in personnel accommodations for Navy crews, was expected to take about 3 weeks.

Note on armaments: The 5"/51 armament was listed on 30 Nov 42 and the 5"/38 one on 21 Dec 42; the 5"/51 gun was thus not on the ship for long if at all.

Ship Notes:
AO Name Notes
66 ATASCOSA Ex merc. ESSO COLUMBIA. Converted by Bethlehem Steel Co., Key Highway, Baltimore (completed 18 Nov 42). Merc. ESSO COLUMBIA (MC) 1946, ESSO SYRACUSE 1947. Scrapped at Genoa 1960. 329-foot forward part grafted to 274-foot after part of S.S. ESSO BUFFALO which became bulk carrier S.S. SPITFIRE and was scrapped 1973.

Page Notes:
AO        1942
Compiled:        04 Aug 2010
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2010