USS Housatonic (AO-35)
|Name:||SS Esso Albany|
|Namesake:||Albany, New York|
|Laid down:||14 May 1941|
|Launched:||6 September 1941|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs. N. L. Lank|
|Acquired:||9 January 1942|
|Renamed:||USS Housatonic (AO-35)|
|Namesake:||Housatonic River, Massachusetts and Connecticut|
|Commissioned:||9 January 1942|
|Decommissioned:||11 March 1946|
|Struck:||before 22 October 1946|
|1 battle star, World War II|
|Fate:||Returned to Standard Oil Company of New Jersey; converted to container ship, 1963; scrapped after 1989|
|Class and type:||Chicopee-class oiler|
|Length:||520 ft (160 m)|
|Beam:||68 ft (21 m)|
|Draft:||30 ft 10 in (9.40 m)|
|Speed:||16.5 knots (30.6 km/h)|
|Capacity:||131,600 barrels (~17,950 t)|
USS Housatonic (AO-35) was a Chicopee-class oiler acquired by the United States Navy for use during World War II. She was the third ship of the U.S. Navy named for the Housatonic River in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Housatonic was a tanker completed in November 1941 by Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Chester, Pennsylvania, under the name SS Esso Albany. After two voyages for Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, she was acquired by the Navy 9 January 1942, converted to a fleet oiler, and renamed Housatonic.
Shakedown training in Chesapeake Bay ended 10 March, and Housatonic joined Service Force, Atlantic Fleet. During the remainder of 1942 Housatonic carried fuel oil and aviation gas from the Gulf of Mexico to ports on the Atlantic Coast and in the Caribbean. A shortage of escorts necessitated the oiler's proceeding alone through waters infested with German submarines which were making many kills at that time. In July, the fleet oiler performed her first fueling at sea, servicing carrier Ranger (CV-4), cruiser Augusta (CA-31), and six destroyers engaged in ferrying U.S. Army P-40 fighter planes aboard the carrier from Port of Spain to Akkra on the Gold Coast of Africa. Fuel from Housatonic enabled this group to return to Port of Spain without stopping or putting into any port during the entire voyage.
In November, during Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, Housatonic fueled battleships, cruisers, and destroyers while they were at sea supporting the assault and capture of Casablanca, French Morocco.
During 1943, the fleet oiler made four voyages to the Mediterranean from New York and Norfolk fueling destroyers at sea as they escorted convoys which supported the victorious allied campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, and southern Italy. In between these voyages she made one run from Norfolk, Virginia, to Argentia, Newfoundland, and five from Texas ports to Norfolk. The close of the year found her at Bermuda training new destroyer escorts in the techniques of fueling at sea.
In 1944 Housatonic made three voyages from Norfolk to the Mediterranean, the first to Casablanca, the next to Oran, and the last to Naples, Italy. Then came a round trip from New York to Scotland and back with fast convoys. The highlight of this voyage came in Clyde, where she fueled RMS Queen Elizabeth.
Housatonic departed Norfolk 20 November for the Caroline Islands via Aruba, the Panama Canal, and Pearl Harbor. She arrived Ulithi 31 December and joined the Service Force, Pacific Fleet. From the first of the year until the Surrender of Japan Housatonic was based at Ulithi whence she steamed to sea to fuel carriers, battleships, battle cruisers, cruisers, and destroyers of fast carrier groups which hammered Japanese installations as gigantic America sea power swept inexorably toward Japan. In this way she supported operations which took Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa and which bombarded the Japanese home islands.
After the Surrender of Japan, Housatonic operated in the Yellow Sea fueling carriers, cruisers, and destroyers of the U.S. 7th Fleet which were supporting the occupation of North China and Korea. Floating mines made this duty particularly dangerous.
She arrived San Francisco, California, 26 November and decommissioned there 11 March 1946. She was transferred to the Maritime Commission 22 October and was sold to her former owner, The Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, 14 October 1947.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Photo gallery of Housatonic at NavSource Naval History
- Wildenberg, Thomas (1996). Gray Steel and Black Oil: Fast Tankers and Replenishment at Sea in the U.S. Navy, 1912-1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. Retrieved 2009-04-28.