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M/V New York Socony circa early 1932
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Class:        CONASAUGA (AOG-15)
Design        Small tanker, 1932
Displacement (tons):        3,100 full load
Dimensions (feet):        263.2' oa, 254.6' wl x 45.5' x 12.25' mean full load
Original Armament:        1-3"/50 4-20mm
Later armaments:        --
Complement        --
Speed (kts.):        8.5
Propulsion (HP):        700
Machinery:        2 screws, 2 McIntosh Seymore diesels, direct drive

AOG Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
15 CONASAUGA 24 Mar 43 Bethlehem Sparrows Pt. 1931 5 Nov 31 19 Apr 43

AOG Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
15 CONASAUGA 25 Dec 44 31 Oct 47 25 Dec 44 Trf. --

Class Notes:
FY 1943. On 15 January 1932 the recently reopened Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. yard at Sparrows Point, Md., delivered a special-type motor tanker to the Standard Vacuum Transportation Co. of New York. The tanker, equipped for ocean service, was built to the owner's design for trade on the New England coast and in tributary waters. She had twin screws and twin rudders for rapid handling in restricted waterways. Her pilot house and chart room were built of wood and were raised to permit a view over the forecastle head. A docking bridge was installed on each side of the pilot house. The space beneath the pilot house contained part of the ship's fire suppression system. Her crew of 18 men was berthed aft.

On 10 Mar 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board reported that operations in the Mediterranean area required the use of additional shallow draft tankers to distribute light petroleum products in bulk to ports of limited depth. Representatives of the Maritime Commission and the Army-Navy Petroleum Board had recommended three coastwise tankers possessing suitable characteristics, ESSO DELIVERY #11, NEW YORK SOCONY, and VEEDOL #2. The Board recommended that these be purchased, manned by Navy crews, and given a limited conversion to provide crew quarters and an adequate armament. On the same day the Secretary of the Navy asked the Maritime Commission to provide the ships. On 16 Mar 43 VCNO advised the Bureaus that arrangements had been made to purchase the ships and directed that they be given the limited conversion recommended by the Auxiliary Vessels Board and that their crews be kept to the lowest possible minimum.

AOG 14-16 were rushed to Europe after short conversion periods and soon distinguished themselves during the reoccupation of Bizerte, Tunisia. In late June 1943 the tanker WALTER JENNINGS (later IX-191) became the first ship of major size to reach the devastated commercial port facilities at Ferryville on Lake Bizerte, and her docking there proved so difficult that it was decided to leave her there and have the three small tankers, plus lighters and barges, transfer oil from other ships to the JENNINGS which would then pump it ashore. AOG 14-16 then saw hard service carrying gasoline and diesel fuel between North African ports and supporting invasion operations in Italy with little opportunity for proper maintenance. In mid- November 1943 CONASAUGA reported that her machinery was in bad condition despite repairs at Ferryville in October and requested a replacement cylinder block and liners for her port engine. On 2 Dec 43 she was reported inoperative pending arrival and installation of this equipment. By early March 1944 she was alongside the repair ship DELTA (AR-9) at Bizerte, but DELTA soon moved to Palermo, Sicily, and on 22 Mar 44 the Army tug LT-222 towed CONASAUGA to Palermo so that DELTA could complete her repairs. In mid-April CONASAUGA resumed an intense operational schedule, which she continued to the end of the year. On 10 May 44 the Munitions Committee (Navy) approved the assignment of AOG 14-16 to the French National Committee. On 16 Nov 44 Commander 8th Fleet ordered the three ships decommissioned and transferred to the French. The transfers took place a month or two later.

On 24 Sep 45 CNO directed Commander, Naval Forces, Northwest African Waters to arrange with the French to return AOG-15 to U.S. custody. She was returned by the French at Palermo, Italy, on 17 Oct 45. She arrived at Palermo in full commission and with the French crew on board but under tow since both main engines were not in operating condition. The ship was inspected by a Sub-Board of Inspection and Survey on 25 Oct 45. The board found that prolonged service in the gasoline trade had led to heavy corrosion throughout the cargo tanks which would require extensive hull repairs. It learned that the ship had been operated under her own power only once during her commission in the French Navy, that engine trouble had then developed and that all attempts to obtain replacement parts, particularly cylinder heads, had been unsuccessful. When she arrived at Palermo both engines were in an advanced state of disassembly with parts scattered throughout the engine room. In addition the starboard engine was reported to be out of line with the propeller shaft due to grounding. The board felt that the main engines could be repaired but concluded that the poor condition of the hull rendered the ship as a whole beyond economical repair and recommended that she be stripped and sold locally. BuShips forwarded this report to CNO on 23 Nov 45 recommending that the ship be stricken and sold. On 7 Nov 45 SecNav approved CNO's recommendation to dispose of the ship, but the striking action only followed two years later.

Ship Notes:
AOG Name Notes
15 CONASAUGA Ex merc. NEW YORK SOCONY (delivered 15 Jan 32). Converted by Marine Basin Co., Brooklyn, N.Y., 24 Mar-20 Apr 43. To France at Bizerte under Lend-Lease 25 Dec 44 as LAC BLANC. Stk. by French Navy and returned at Palermo 17 Oct 45, stripped and hulk sold there 19 Dec 45.

Page Notes:
AOG        1943
Compiled:        14 Aug 2010
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2010