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USS Kennebago (AO-81) on 16 December 1943
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class:        ESCAMBIA (AO-80)
Design        MC T2-SE-A2
Displacement (tons):        5,730 light, 22,380 lim.
Dimensions (feet):        523.5' oa, 503.0' wl x 68.0' e x 30.8 lim.
Original Armament:        1-5"/38 4-3"/50 2-40mmT 12-20mm (AO 80-88, 93)
Later armaments:        
1-5"/38 4-3"/50 4-40mmT 12-20mm (1945: AO 80-85, 87, 94-96); 1-5"/38 4- 3"/50 4-40mmT 4-20mmT (1945-47: AO-84, 88)
Complement        54 (1944)
Speed (kts.):        15.1
Propulsion (HP):        10,000
Machinery:        1 screw, G.E. turbo-electric

Construction:
AO Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
80 ESCAMBIA 28 Jun 43 Marinship 7 Dec 42 25 Apr 43 28 Oct 43
81 KENNEBAGO 30 Jul 43 Marinship 9 Jan 43 9 May 43 4 Dec 43
82 CAHABA 15 Aug 43 Marinship 20 Jan 43 19 May 43 14 Jan 44
83 MASCOMA 3 Feb 44 Marinship 31 Jan 43 31 May 43 3 Feb 44
84 OCKLAWAHA 9 Mar 44 Marinship 10 Feb 43 9 Jun 43 9 Mar 44
85 PAMANSET 30 Apr 44 Marinship 30 Mar 43 25 Jun 43 30 Apr 44
86 PONAGANSET 15 May 44 Marinship 27 Apr 43 10 Jul 43 15 May 44
87 SEBEC 29 Mar 44 Marinship 20 May 43 29 Jul 43 29 Mar 44
88 TOMAHAWK 16 Apr 44 Marinship 1 Jun 43 10 Aug 43 16 Apr 44
93 SOUBARISSEN 5 Jan 45 Marinship 19 Jun 44 12 Aug 44 5 Jan 45
94 ANACOSTIA 25 Feb 45 Marinship 16 Jul 44 24 Sep 44 25 Feb 45
95 CANEY 25 Mar 45 Marinship 27 Jul 44 8 Oct 44 25 Mar 45
96 TAMALPAIS 20 May 45 Marinship 18 Sep 44 29 Oct 44 20 May 45

Disposition:
AO Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
80 ESCAMBIA 1957 3 Oct 57 3 Oct 57 MA/R 4 Aug 71
81 KENNEBAGO 1959 23 Jun 59 23 Jun 59 MA/R 9 Sep 74
82 CAHABA 1958 20 Jan 58 20 Jan 58 MA/R 4 Aug 71
83 MASCOMA 1959 18 Jun 59 18 Jun 59 MA/R 4 Nov 66
84 OCKLAWAHA 1959 9 Jun 59 9 Jun 59 MA/R 2 Sep 75
85 PAMANSET 1957 26 Sep 57 26 Sep 57 MA/R 3 May 66
86 PONAGANSET 26 Apr 46 23 Apr 47 30 Jun 48 MC 16 Dec 48
87 SEBEC 1957 3 Sep 57 3 Sep 57 MA/R 9 Sep 74
88 TOMAHAWK 1960 1 Sep 61 1 Sep 61 MA/R 19 Jul 66
93 SOUBARISSEN 1958 1 Jul 61 1 Apr 61 MA/R 19 Mar 82
94 ANACOSTIA 1957 17 Dec 57 17 Dec 57 MA/R 8 Oct 67
95 CANEY 1959 21 May 59 21 May 59 MA/R 9 Sep 74
96 TAMALPAIS 1957 18 Dec 57 18 Dec 57 MA/R 9 Sep 74

Class Notes:
FY 1943 (AO 80-88), 1944 (AO 93-96). During mid-1942 tanker sinkings in the Atlantic were exceeding the rate of new construction, and in response the MC added several tanker yards to its emergency shipbuilding effort. On 27 Jul 42 the MC informed one of its yards then building Liberty ships, Marinship in Sausalito, Calif., that it would be converted to tanker construction. The MC issued an order for 22 turbo-electric T2 tankers to Marinship on 9 Oct 42. The factories producing the 6,000 hp propulsion plants for the T2-SE-A1 tankers were already producing at peak capacity, but it was determined that the General Electric Co., would be able to furnish 10,000 hp units in time to meet the launching schedules at Marinship. The 10,000 hp plant had been developed for the ten P2-SE-A1 type troop transports (the AP-120 class) then on order at the nearby Bethlehem Steel Co. Alameda shipyard. Marinship was instructed to fit the larger plant into its tankers, designated T2-SE-A2, while retaining as much of the T2-SE-A1 design as possible. The MC made the problem even harder by adding a bulkhead in the engineering spaces. As a result the bilge, fire and water pumps and the main thrust bearing, which had been conveniently located together aft of the lower engine room space, had to be squeezed in beside the propeller shaft and in front of the main propulsion motor, producing very crowded machinery spaces. Other major design changes were also made to the engineering plant, including the use of high-pressure high-temperature boilders with special alloy fittings.

On 13 Feb 43, as the acquisition of the first 12 of the 24 tankers requested by the Navy in mid-1942 (see the AO-49 class) neared completion, SecNav wrote to the MC that he understood that the MC had contracted with the Marinship Corp. to build 22 T2-SE-A2 tankers which would have 10,000 hp propulsion units. Attracted by the possibility of higher speed in these ships, he requested that the first nine of these, which were scheduled for delivery between May and August 1943, be assigned to the Navy as part of the second batch of 12 Navy tankers (AO 80-88). To make up the rest of the second group of 12 tankers, the Navy received three more T2-SE-A1 ships from Sun (AO 77-79), although it requested that their speed be increased if possible. The initial plan was for the MC was to transfer the nine Marinship vessels from the builder's yard to nearby yards in the San Francisco area for conversion by the Navy, and the first three ships were handled in this manner. However production of the tankers at Marinship fell behind schedule, and in September 1943 the MC arranged to tow five of the Navy's ships (ultimately AO 83-85 and 87-88) to the Kaiser Co. yard at Swan Island near Portland, Ore., for completion and conversion there. AO-86 was towed to the Western Pipe Steel Co. yard at San Francisco for completion, but this arrangement apparently did not work and she joined her sisters at Portland in February 1944. AO 83-88 were transferred to the MC Military Program on 14 Sep 43 when the MC accepted responsibility for their conversion. AO-85 and AO-86 appear to have encountered major delays at Marinship after launching and became the last two ships of this group to be completed.

These nine Navy tankers were followed at Marinship by a series of 31 T2-SE-A2 tankers built for civilian service, all of which were named after California missions to distinguish them from the less powerful T2-SE-A1's built elsewhere. (In 1947 all but one of these joined the Navy as the AO-111 class.) On 6 Jun 1944 the JCS asked the MC to modify its building program for the first half of 1945 to include the construction of 56 merchant type vessels as Naval auxiliaries including 12 oilers. On 14 Jun 44 the MC transferred to its Military Program for completion for the Navy the last six of the 31 T2-SE-A2 tankers then built or building at Marinship for civilian use (AO 91-96), and on 15 Jun 44 it ordered four more fast oilers of the T3-S2-A1 type from Bethlehem Sparrows Point (AO 97-100, see the AO-51 class). The MC informed the JCS on 22 Jun 44 that it was able to provide for all of the requested 56 ships except for two of the 12 oilers. On 3 Jul 44 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended acquiring the 54 ships including the 10 oilers. Unlike AO 80-88 the six new T2-SE-A2 tankers would be converted by Marinship during construction. On 24 Aug 44 the first two of these became distilling ships (AW 3-4, q.v.). Other T2 tankers, including AO-93, 96, and 101, served as fresh water tankers but did not have the large distilling plants of the AW's.

After these 40 T2-SE-A2's the MC had Marinship build T2-SE-A1's for the remainder of the war, with the exception of four more 10,000 horsepower ships for the Navy (see the AO-101 class). In the less demanding postwar environment the Navy also seems to have come to prefer the T2-SE-A1, as indicated by the fact that the A1's of the AO-49 class lasted a lot longer in active MSTS service than did the A2's of the AO-80 and AO-111 classes.

In the postwar economic boom the Navy was unable to buy all of the oil it needed from its former domestic suppliers and had to transport large quantities from the Persian Gulf. In October 1947 it asked the Maritime Commission for 50 T2 tankers to be operated by the Navy with merchant crews. On 7 Oct 47 it asked for 26 civilian T2-SE-A2 tankers, which were delivered in October-November 1947 and became the AO-111 class. On 20 Oct 47 it asked for the return and reconversion for civilian operation of 24 former Navy tankers, 10 T2-SE-A1's of the AO-49 class and 14 T2-SE-A2's of the AO-80 and AO-101 classes. During October 1947 the MC transferred these 24 tankers from the reserve fleets to commercial firms acting as operating agents, presumably to oversee the movement of the ships to shipyards and their reactivation. When reactivation was complete in January-March 1948 the MC transferred ownership of the vessels to the Navy. When AO-86 broke in half during reconversion the MC replaced her with AO-137 from the merchant marine. On 25 Mar 48 the Navy informed the MC that the 50 tankers would be inadequate to meet the increased requirements of the armed services and asked for five more T2s and one T1. It received the civilian AO 138-142 and the former Naval AOG-68 between April and July 1948.

The Navy listed these 56 ships as "U.S. Naval Tankers" in the Naval Vessel Register separately from the commissioned "oilers - fuel oil tankers." The U.S. Naval Tankers (USNT) were Navy-owned tankers manned by merchant crews of about 9 officers and 39 men. They were assigned to the Naval Transportation Service (NTS) and were operated by four civilian firms acting as operating agents: Marine Transport Lines, Inc. (New York), Pacific Tankers, Inc. (San Francisco), American Pacific Steamship Co. (San Pedro), and Tankers Company, Inc. (New York). The 32 ships acquired from the merchant marine retained their commercial names and their Navy AO numbers were "temporarily assigned for BuShips accounting purposes only," while the 24 former Navy ships continued to be carried in the Naval Vessel Register as "stricken" while they were in use as U.S. Naval Tankers.

All active U.S. Naval Tankers were transferred to the new Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) on 1 Oct 49 and, like all other civilian-manned MSTS ships, were redesignated "U.S. Naval Ships" (USNS). The naval tankers became one of the three major components of the new MSTS, the others being the commissioned cargo ships and oilers of the Naval Transportation Service and the personnel transports of the Army Transportation Service. On 22 Feb 50 CNO approved the assignment of the status "Active, In Service" for all non-commissioned vessels assigned to MSTS, including the former naval tankers with merchant crews. However, of the non-commissioned tankers then in operation under MSTS, 14 T2s and 1 T1 were being carried in the "Naval Vessel Register" as "stricken," a holdover from their USNT status. The Secretary of the Navy resolved this technical conflict by promulgating a letter on 28 Apr 50 formally reinstating them on the "List of Naval Vessels." The same situation applied to nine more T2s that had been operated with merchant crews until they were inactivated in late 1949; these were restored to the list on 20 Mar 50.

Ship Notes:
AO Name MC Notes
80 ESCAMBIA 1259 Delivered 87.8% complete (acq. 30 Jun 43 in MC records), converted by Matson Navigation Co., San Francisco. Decomm. 20 Feb 46, stk. 12 Mar 46, to MC 30 Jun 46. Began reactivation 21 Oct 47, from MC 26 Jan 48 as USNT, to MSTS 1 Oct 49. In USN reserve 1949-50 (from MSTS 9 Jun 50). On list 20 Mar 50. To MSTS 18 Jul 50. From MA to Army 26 Apr 66 for use as powerfloat at Qui Nhon, Vietnam ("Project Powerfloat"). To buyer there 30 Aug 71.
81 KENNEBAGO 1260 Delivered 92.3% complete, converted by Matson Navigation Co., San Francisco. Decomm. 19 Jul 46, to MC 24 May 47, stk. 10 Jun 47. Began reactivation 20 Oct 47, from MC 16 Jan 48 as USNT, to MSTS 1 Oct 49. In USN reserve 1949-50 (from MSTS 25 Jan 50). On list 20 Mar 50. To MSTS 21 Jul 50. To NDRF 27 Nov 57, from NDRF 23 May 58. From MA to Army 20 May 66 for use as powerfloat in Vietnam.
82 CAHABA 1261 Ex USS LACKAWAXEN 4 Nov 43 (to avoid confusion with LACKAWANNA, AO-40, which was in the same squadron), ex USS LACKAWAPEN 23 Sep 43 (to correct a spelling error in the 13 Jan 43 naming letter). Delivered 92.1% complete, converted by Matson Navigation Co., San Francisco. Decomm. 15 May 46, stk. 19 Jul 46, to MC 8 May 47 as LACKAWAXEN. Began reactivation 17 Oct 47, from MC 5 Mar 48 as USNT, to MSTS 1 Oct 49, on list 28 Apr 50. Planned inactivation canc. 31 Jul 50. Stk. and to MA 19 Dec 55, from MA to MSTS and on list 19 Jun 56. From MA to Army 11 May 66 for use as powerfloat at Qui Nhon, Vietnam. To buyer there 30 Aug 71.
83 MASCOMA 1262 Delivered to MC at Marinship 18 Sep 43 and towed to Kaiser, Swan Is., Portland, Ore., for completion and conversion. Decomm 17 Dec 45, stk. 8 Jan 46, to MC 27 Jun 46. Began reactivation 10 Oct 47, from MC 4 Feb 48 as USNT, to MSTS 1 Oct 49. In USN reserve 1949-50 (from MSTS 23 Dec 49). On list 20 Mar 50. To MSTS 21 Jul 50. Named SEATRAIN OREGON Dec 66, delivered to buyer 20 Jun 67, renamed TRANSCHAMPLAIN Sep 67, converted to container ship 1969, scrapped 1980.
84 OCKLAWAHA 1263 Delivered to MC at Marinship 30 Sep 43 and towed to Kaiser, Swan Is., Portland, Ore., for completion and conversion. Decomm. 19 Jul 46, stk. 23 Apr 47, to MC 12 May 47. Began reactivation 10 Oct 47, from MC 22 May 48 as USNT, to MSTS 1 Oct 49. In USN reserve 1949-50 (from MSTS 16 Jun 50). On list 20 Mar 50. To MSTS 21 Jul 50. To NDRF 18 Oct 57, from NDRF 20 May 58. To buyer 17 Sep 75.
85 PAMANSET 1264 Delivered to MC at Marinship 10 Nov 43 and towed to Kaiser, Swan Is., Portland, Ore., for completion and conversion. Decomm. 18 Mar 46, stk. 28 Mar 46, to MC 11 Oct 46. Began reactivation 29 Oct 47, from MC 10 Feb 48 as USNT, to MSTS 1 Oct 49, on list 28 Apr 50. To MA and stk. 24 Feb 56. From MA and on list 26 Jun 56. Merc. SEATRAIN FLORIDA 1966, converted to container ship 1967. To NDRF 16 Oct 75, renamed FLORIDA by MA 8 Aug 78, sold 25 Sep 85, to buyer 12 Mar 86.
86 PONAGANSET 1265 Delivered to MC at Marinship 31 Dec 43 and towed to Western Pipe, San Francisco. Towed out 29 Jan 44 enroute Kaiser, Swan Is., Portland, Ore., for completion and conversion. Decomm. 26 Apr 46, stk. 23 Apr 47, to MC 15 May 47. From NDRF to American Petroleum Transportation Corp. for reactivation as USNT 20 Oct 47. Broke in half while docked at Boston 9 Dec 47. From MC to Navy at Boston 2 Mar 48 for removal of main propulsion plant for use as spare parts. From Navy to MC 30 Jun 48 after stripping but held in Navy custody until disposed of. Bow section delivered to scrapper 27 Dec 48 and stern section delivered 7 Jan 49. Scrapped by 7 Mar 49.
87 SEBEC 1266 Delivered to MC at Marinship 11 Oct 43 and towed to Kaiser, Swan Is., Portland, Ore., for completion and conversion. Decomm. 7 Feb 46, stk. 26 Feb 46, to MC 30 Jun 46. Began reactivation 31 Oct 47, from MC 2 Feb 48 as USNT, to MSTS 1 Oct 49, on list 28 Apr 50. To MA 21 Dec 55, stk. 22 Dec 55. From MA and on list 21 Jun 56. From MA to Army 9 Jun 66 for use as powerfloat in Vietnam.
88 TOMAHAWK 1267 Delivered to MC at Marinship 23 Oct 43 and towed to Kaiser, Swan Is., Portland, Ore., for completion and conversion. Decomm. 5 Jan 46, stk. 21 Jan 46, to MC 28 Jun 46. Began reactivation 17 Oct 47, from MC 28 Feb 48 as USNT, to MSTS 1 Oct 49, on list 28 Apr 50. To NDRF 24 Jun 59 (probably in MSTS Ready Reserve status), to MSTS 31 Dec 59, to NDRF 1 Apr 60 (Ready Reserve), to MSTS 17 Jan 61 (for inactivation), to NDRF 7 Feb 61. Merc. MAINE 1966, aft section converted to container ship using parts of AO-125 and AO-126 and renamed SEATRAIN MAINE 1967. To NDRF 13 Nov 73. Renamed MAINE by MC 8 Aug 78. Sold 25 Jan 2008, to buyer 13 Mar 08.
93 SOUBARISSEN 1828 Ex merc. MISSION SANTA ANA (completed 31 Dec 44). Decomm. and to MC 7 May 46, stk. 21 May 46. Began reactivation 23 Oct 47, from MC 19 Feb 48 as USNT, to MSTS 1 Oct 49, on list 28 Apr 50, to MSTS 31 Jul 50. To MA 19 Apr 55, stk. 22 Jun 55 (?). From MA and on list 6 Jul 56. To NDRF 29 Dec 58 (in MSTS Ready Reserve status), to MSTS 20 Nov 59 (for inactivation), to NDRF 10 Dec 59. To buyer 5 Apr 82.
94 ANACOSTIA 1829 Ex merc. MISSION ALAMO. Decomm. and to MC 16 Apr 46, stk. 8 May 46. Began reactivation 27 Oct 47, from MC 28 Feb 48 as USNT, to MSTS 1 Oct 49. In USN reserve 1949-50 (from MSTS 5 Jan 50). On list 20 Mar 50. To MSTS 21 Jul 50. To buyer 9 Oct 67, converted to bulk carrier using stern of AO-94 and forepart of bulker NAUTILUS (originally T2 tanker LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN), renamed PENN RANGER 5 Nov 68. (Stern of NAUTILUS joined to forepart of AO-94 and towed to Spain for scrapping.) Renamed OMNIUM RANGER 1973, scrapped 1978.
95 CANEY 1830 Ex merc. MISSION LOS ANGELES. Decomm. and to MC 27 Feb 46, stk. 12 Mar 46. Began reactivation 21 Oct 47, from MC as USNT 21 Feb 48, to MSTS 1 Oct 49. In USN reserve 1949-50 (from MSTS 21 Jun 50). On list 20 Mar 50. To MSTS 21 Jul 50. From MA to Army 3 Jun 66 for use as powerfloat in Vietnam.
96 TAMALPAIS 1831 Ex merc. MISSION SAN FRANCISCO. Decomm. and to MC 21 Jun 46, stk. 3 Jul 46. Began reactivation 18 Oct 47, from MC 10 Mar 48 as USNT, to MSTS 1 Oct 49, on list 28 Apr 50. From MA to Army 3 Jun 66 for use as powerfloat in Vietnam.

Page Notes:
AO        1943
Compiled:        04 Aug 2010
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2010