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USNS Potomac (T-AO 181).

USNS Potomac (T-AO 181).
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Class: POTOMAC (T-AO 181)
Design: Private
Displacement (tons): 34,800 full, 7,761 light
Dimensions (feet): 620 oa, 591.25 pp x 83.5 x 32.0
Armament: none
Accommodations: 49
Speed (kts.): 18
Propulsion (SHP): 20,460 max, 18,600 normal
Machinery: Geared steam turbines, 2 boilers (600psi/850deg), 1 screw

181POTOMAC11 Dec 1964Newport News SB26 May 196423 Oct 196411 Dec 1964

T-AONameTInact/CustStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale/Depart
181POTOMACT26 Sep 1983None?29 Jun 2001MA/T5 Sep 2012/D

Class Notes:
The original POTOMAC (T-AO 150, q.v.) was destroyed by fire and explosion at Morehead City, NC, on 26 Sep 1961 and declared CTL effective that date. Her stern containing her propulsion equipment was sold to Keystone Shipping Co by MSTS 10 Jul 1963 by a contract requiring rebuilding and bareboat charter to MSTS. A new midbody and bow section was built by Newport News (dates above) and the old stern was joined to it. The resulting ship was renamed SHENANDOAH and bareboat chartered by Keystone to MSTS on 11 Dec 1964. The rebuilt ship followed the new trend for large bulk carriers and tankships of having all their superstructure aft including the navigating bridge. In almost all disasters involving earlier tankers men had been trapped in the amidships bridge section. In addition the big T5's of the T-AO 149 class had trimmed down by the bow, making it uneconomical to maintain their tanks to full capacity during normal operations. Removing the heavy forward house and adding cargo space aft enabled them to sail on an even keel or even with a slight drag.

A memo of 4 December 1975 based on a MSC message of 3 December 1975 stated that MSC bareboat chartered tankers were then designated as "Active status, In service" United States naval ships, and that in order to enhance this designation and the status of the ships as U.S. public vessels the names of T-AO 181 to 185 would be changed in the near future. Still owned by Keystone, SS SHENANDOAH (T-AO 181) was renamed POTOMAC by MSC 14 Jan 1976 effective 12 Jan 1976 and transferred to a new contract operator. She also rejoined her former three sisters of the AO 149 class in the category of MSC T5 tankers. In 1978 the navy created the new classification symbol AOT, "Transport Oiler," for the MSC tankers, including the T5s and older T2s, that carried oil from point to point rather than delivering it to fleet units, and on 14 Sep 1978 effective 30 Sep 1978 CNO reclassified AO 181 to AOT 181.

Ship Notes:
181POTOMACTitle from Keystone to MA 2 May 1980 under the Trade-In and Build program. Redelivered to MSC by contract operator and to MA custody 5 Mar 1984 under the temporary name SHENANDOAH (RRF in JRRF, to BRF at Beaumont, Tex., Apr 1986), name changed to POTOMAC in the September 1989 MA inventory. Deployed with MSC afloat prepositioning force at Diego Garcia Dec 1990 for Operation Desert Shield/Storm and remained there until returned to RRF in BRF Jun 2001. To NDRF retention Jul 2006, non-retention Oct 2007. Withdrawn from NDRF 5 Sep 2012 and departed to breakers under domestic sale.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 18 Sep 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021