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USS Neosho (AO 143).
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Class: NEOSHO (AO 143)
Design: SCB Project No. 82
Displacement (tons): 11,600 light, 38,000 full
Dimensions (feet): 655' oa, 640' wl x 86' e/wl x 35' max nav
Original Armament: 2-5"/38S, 6-3"/50T, plus 6-20mmT in 143-45 and 148
Later Armaments: (143, 144: 1957) 1-5"/38S, 6-3"/50T except 4-3"/50T in 144; (all less 144: 1959-61) 6-3"50T; (144: 1961, 143: 1965, 147: 1969, 145-146 and 148: 1976) 4-3"/50T; (148: 1979) 2-3"/50T; (MSC 1976-80) none
Accommodations: 21 officers, 303 enlisted
Speed (kts.): 20
Propulsion (HP): 28,000
Machinery: Geared steam turbines, 2 boilers (600psi/675deg), 2 screws
|143||NEOSHO||24 Aug 1951||Bethlehem, Quincy||2 Sep 1952||10 Nov 1953||24 Sep 1954|
|144||MISSISSINEWA||28 Jan 1952||NYSB||4 May 1953||12 Jun 1954||18 Jan 1955|
|145||HASSAYAMPA||28 Feb 1952||NYSB||13 Jul 1953||12 Sep 1954||19 Apr 1955|
|146||KAWISHIWI||28 Jan 1952||NYSB||5 Oct 1953||11 Dec 1954||6 Jul 1955|
|147||TRUCKEE||28 Feb 1952||NYSB||21 Dec 1953||10 Mar 1955||23 Nov 1955|
|148||PONCHATULA||28 Jan 1952||NYSB||1 Mar 1954||9 Jul 1955||12 Jan 1956|
|143||NEOSHO||Tr||10 Aug 1992||16 Feb 1994||1 May 1999||MA/T||18 Dec 2004|
|144||MISSISSINEWA||Tr||30 Jul 1991||16 Feb 1994||1 May 1999||MA/T||30 Jan 2007/D|
|145||HASSAYAMPA||Tr||2 Oct 1991||16 Feb 1994||1 May 1999||MA/T||7 May 2014|
|146||KAWISHIWI||Tr||31 Jul 1992||7 Nov 1994||1 May 1999||MA/T||1 May 2014|
|147||TRUCKEE||Tr||21 Oct 1991||18 Jul 1994||1 May 1999||MA/T||6 Aug 2008/D|
|148||PONCHATULA||Tr||1 Apr 1992||31 Aug 1992||1 May 1999||MA/T||28 Apr 2014|
During the Korean War the Navy struggled to keep the ships of Carrier Task Force 77 supplied at sea while on station in the Sea of Japan. The naval forces employed in Korea were smaller than those used in World War II but in some ways the operations were far more intensive -- aircraft sortie rates and the amount of ordnance expended were both greater than in the longer, global war. Replenishments of Task Force 77 took excessive time and could be limited by bad weather. While the Navy had more than enough T3-type tankers these lacked the speed, cargo capacity, and transfer rates needed to support the intensive air operations being conducted by Task Force 77. No longer under fiscal constraints, the Ship Characteristics Board began design work on a new fleet oiler, and between August 1951 and January 1952 the Navy contracted for six of the ships. (AO 145 and 147 were ordered from Ingalls on 28 January 1952 but that contract was cancelled on 28 February 1952 and they were reassigned on the same date to New York Shipbuilding.) On 28 April 1952 CNO convened a special conference on mobile logistics support to study the problems encountered supporting Task Force 77, and the conferees found the design of the new oiler to be highly satisfactory. Approved characteristics for a new construction fleet oiler (AO), SCB Project No. 82, were promulgated on 20 May 1953 and updated on 18 April 1958. As of late 1954 the draft FY 1956 shipbuilding program included one more SCB Project 82 AO. Approved characteristics for a fleet oiler (AO), SCB Project No. 82A, were promulgated on 21 October 1957 with a single change on 12 November 1957 but no additional ships were built.
On 14 May 1959 a team from the Preliminary Design Branch of BUSHIPS (Code 421) visited AO 147 and AO 143 to get their crews' reactions to this relatively new AO type in connection with new design work in progress (notably the AOE type). They learned that the AO 143 type ships had experienced no difficulty in replenishing operations in up to force 4 winds due to poor seakeeping or lack of stability and that roll stabilization features were unnecessary. The ships had, however, experienced major trouble with green water inundating the main deck and even the forecastle, smashing up and completely disrupting the deck load cargo of AVGAS drums and pressurized gas cylinders on the main deck and causing structural damage on the forecastle. The ships suggested that the main deck forward be enclosed. Visibility from the bridge was considered fine after the removal of the forward centerline mounted 5" gun. The most serious criticisms related to the machinery plant. Opinion was unanimous that the ships were underpowered in backing, that the two boilers were insufficient, and that the ship service generators were inadequate to the extent that starting up the fire room forced draft blowers created a serious power drop on the line followed by a power surge that burned out lights and electronic components. The Executive Officer of NEOSHO summarized the general feeling concenting the machinery plant by called it "archaic." When shown the AOE design the officers of the two ships endorsed most of its features except the 40-foot draft, which they pointed out was too much for nearly all harbors on the U.S. East Coast, including Norfolk, to handle.
The armament of the class went through three major configuration changes. Originally the ships had a single 5"/38 enclosed mount at each end and six 3"/50 twin mounts, two abreast forward and four at the corners of the after superstructure. The first change was the removal of the 5"/38 mounts in 1959-61, leaving the ships otherwise unchanged with their six 3"/50 twin mounts. The second change was a modernization in 1965-76 in which the two 3"/50 twin mounts at the forward end of the after superstructure were replaced with a large new deckhouse and a small helicopter flight deck was added over the stern. The third change was the removal of all armament in 1976-80 when the ships were transferred to MSC. The main exception was AO 144, which received the flight deck modernization as early as 1957, displacing the after 5"/38 gun but retaining the forward one until around 1961. AO 143 also lost one 5"/38 mount in 1957.
The ships were built with eight replenishment stations, two forward of the bridge served by a cargo mast and six between the deckhouses served by three kingpost pairs. (There was also a second cargo mast amidships.) The two forward stations were for AVGAS and the three kingpost pairs supplied forward to aft black oil and diesel oil, black oil and JP-5, and AVGAS and JP-5. Carriers would replenish on the oiler's port side and escorts to starboard. Several improvements to fueling rigs were made in the late 1950s. Some AO 143 class ships received counterweight fueling stations in the late 1950s (generally in the after kingpost pair), a 7-inch light-weight collapsible hose replaced the World War II-vintage 6-inch rigid wire-reinforced hose, and fueling outriggers that tilted upwards and outwards from the tops of fueling kingposts were developed to replace the traditional fueling booms in supporting spanwires and hoses. Following completion of the tests of a ram-tensioned highline in VEGA (AF 59, q.v.) in April 1960 a complete prototype STREAM fueling station consisting of a ram tensioner, the new fueling outrigger, and the 7-inch hose was installed and tested on station four of HASSAYAMPA. Later, after eight years of testing, CNO in September 1965 approved a probe fueling system similar to that used in aircraft in-flight refueling in which a male fitting at the end of a 7-inch hose was "flown" down the spanwire on a trolly and mated with a swivel elbow on the receiving system, sealing the connection and opening the refueling valve. The individual AO 143-class oilers subsequently had their fueling stations upgraded as operational requriements, overhaul schedules, and funding permitted, resulting in considerable variety. Ram tensioner systems seem to have been little used on these ships as they handled little cargo.
A March 1961 draft of the FY 1963 program included a new oiler (AO). Approved characteristics for an oiler (AO), SCB Project No. 217, were promulgated on 20 September 1961 without later changes. The design for Project 217 was very similar to the original AO 143 class except for a greater beam (94 ft), the removal of the AVGAS fuel transfer station (the only station forward of the bridge), and the upgrading of the three transfer rigs between the bridge and the after deckhouse to three M-frames like those in AOE 1. The armament was four twin 3"/50 mounts located at the corners of the after deckhouse. The ship was soon competing in budget planning with the AOR, causing the SCB to protest in October 1961 that the AO carried more NSFO (the fuel most needed by the fleet) than the AOR and was somewhat less expensive. The AOR however prevailed in FY 1964 and FY 1965.
|143||NEOSHO||FY 1952. Decomm. and to MSC 25 May 1978. To MA custody in JRRF 12 Aug 1992. Departed for breakers in Brownsville 9 Feb 2005, arrived 4 Mar 2005. BU completed 8 Nov 2005 by ISL.|
|144||MISSISSINEWA||FY 1952. Decomm. and to MSC 15 Nov 1976. To MA custody in JRRF 30 Jul 1991. Departed for breakers in Brownsville 30 Jan 2007. BU completed 11 Feb 2008 by ISL.|
|145||HASSAYAMPA||FY 1952. Decomm. and to MSC 17 Nov 1978. To MA custody in SBRF 14 Nov 1991. Departed 29 May 2014 for breakers (All Star Metals, Brownsville)|
|146||KAWISHIWI||FY 1952. Decomm. and to MSC 10 Oct 1979. To MA custody in JRRF 16 Sep 1992. Departed 12 Jun 2014 for breakers (Int’l. SBr Ltd.).|
|147||TRUCKEE||FY 1952. Decomm. and to MSC 30 Jan 1980. To MA custody in JRRF 12 Dec 1991. Departed 6 Aug 2008 for breakers (Bay Bridge Enterprises, Chesapeake, VA)|
|148||PONCHATULA||FY 1952. Decomm. and to MSC 5 Sep 1980. To MA custody in SBRF 2 Apr 1992. Departed 15 May 2014 for breakers (Int’l. SBr Ltd.).|
Compiled: 18 Sep 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Special sources: Thomas Wildenberg, Gray Steel and Black Oil (Annapolis, 1996); Marvin O. Miller, Designing the U.S. Navy's Underway Replenishment System, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme, Cal., 1996.