USS Caloosahatchee (AO-98)
Caloosahatchee fueling Leyte and Samuel B. Roberts in 1948
|Namesake:||The Caloosahatchie River in southwest Florida|
|Ordered:||as T3-S2-A3 tanker hull;
MC hull 2560
|Laid down:||30 November 1944|
|Launched:||2 June 1945|
|Commissioned:||10 October 1945|
|Decommissioned:||28 February 1990|
|Struck:||18 July 1994|
|Fate:||Transferred to the Maritime Administration, 18 December 1998. Sold for scrap to Able UK and towed to Hartlepool UK, 2003. Scrapping complete, April 2010.|
7,470 t.(lt) 25,450 t.(fl) as built16,500 t. (lt) 36,500 t.(fl) Jumboized
553 ft (169 m) as built664 ft (202 m) Jumboized
|Beam:||75 ft (23 m)|
|Draught:||32 ft (9.8 m)|
|Propulsion:||steam turbines, four boilers, two shafts, 13,500 shaft horsepower , twin screws, 30,400hp.|
|Capacity:||Liquid 8,000,000 gallons, Ordnance cargo cap. 400 tons, Provision cargo cap. 525 tons (Support for 3,000 men for 30 days)|
|Complement:||22 officers, 335 enlisted|
|Armament:||one single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount; four single 3"/50 dual purpose gun mounts; four twin 40mm AA gun mounts; four twin 20mm AA gun mounts|
USS Caloosahatchee (AO-98) was an Cimarron-class fleet oiler constructed for the U.S. Navy for use in World War II but commissioned too late for service in that conflict. However, she had a lengthy career during the Cold War that followed. She was the only U.S. Navy ship to bear the name Caloosahatchee, after the Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida.
Caloosahatchee (AO-98) was launched 2 June 1945 by Bethlehem Steel-Sparrows Point Shipyard, Inc., Sparrows Point, Maryland, under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. C. L. Andrews; acquired by the Navy 10 October 1945; commissioned the same day, Commander H. R. Livingston, USNR, in command; and reported to Commander, Service Force, Atlantic Fleet.
Cold War operations
Caloosahatchee cruised off the U.S. East Coast, transporting oil and fueling ships at sea, and made a voyage to Iceland from Norfolk, Virginia, during her first two years of operations. On 14 August 1947, she sailed for her first tour of duty with the U.S. 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, a deployment that marked almost every year of her operations from that time into 1960.
In this era when the U.S. Navy had perfected at-sea replenishment to greatly increase mobility, flexibility and efficiency, Caloosahatchee played a key role in increasing the enormous power for peace represented by the mighty U.S. 6th Fleet.
Among other widespread operations, Caloosahatchee participated in NATO Operation Mariner off Greenock, Scotland, from 16 September to 20 October 1953, and provided summer training for future naval officers in midshipman cruises to Le Havre, France, in 1954, and to Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1956. In fall 1957 and again in summer 1958, the oiler sailed with forces calling at ports in England, Scotland, France, and Portugal.
Caloosahatchee's constant readiness for emergency deployments or other challenges to her operational capability was developed and maintained through training operations along the east coast, and participation in such large-scale Atlantic Fleet exercises as Operation Springboard held in the Caribbean, which operations continued through 1960.
Between 1966 and 1968 Caloosahatchee, along with her sister ships Ashtabula and Canisteo, underwent "jumboization". A 400-foot midsection, built entirely new from the keel up, was inserted and welded between her original bow and stern. This replaced the old 310-foot midsection and increased the vessel's liquid cargo capacity by over one-third. Her new configuration closely resembled that of a more modern type of ship, the replenishment oiler.
Decommissioning and Disposal
Caloosahatchee decommissioned 28 February 1990, and was struck from the Naval Vessel Register, 18 July 1994. She was transferred to the Maritime Administration, 18 December 1998, for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River, Fort Eustis, Virginia. Caloosahatchee was sold for scrapping to Able UK, Hartlepool, Teesside, England, and removed from the Reserve Fleet under tow, arriving in the United Kingdom on 12 November 2003.
Caloosahatchee and three other decommissioned Navy ships, Canisteo, Canopus and Compass Island all arrived at Able UK under the same contract and came to be known as the "Hartlepool Four". Local protests and legal challenges, alleging unacceptable amounts of toxic substances contained on and in the vessels, delayed scrapping until Able UK secured the appropriate waste management licensing in August, 2008.
Scrapping of Caloosahatchee finally commenced in November, 2009 and was complete by April, 2010.
Military awards and honors
Caloosahatchee’s crew were authorized the following medals:
- SecNav Letter of Commendation (1)
- Navy Unit Commendation
- American Campaign Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
- National Defense Service Medal (2)
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (1-Cuba, 1-Dominican Republic, 1-Grenada)