USS Manatee (AO-58)
Manatee at Subic Bay in the Philippine Islands in 1969
|Builder:||Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard, Sparrows Point, Maryland|
|Laid down:||28 August 1943|
|Launched:||18 February 1944|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs. Paul V. McNutt|
|Commissioned:||6 April 1944|
|Struck:||14 August 1973|
|Fate:||Sold for scrapping, 10 December 1973|
|Class and type:||Cimarron-class fleet oiler|
|Type:||T3-S2-A3 tanker hull|
|Length:||553 ft (169 m)|
|Beam:||75 ft (23 m)|
|Draft:||32 ft 4 in (9.86 m)|
|Propulsion:||Geared turbines, twin screws, 30,400 shp (22,669 kW)|
|Speed:||18 knots (21 mph; 33 km/h)|
|Complement:||314 officers and enlisted|
|Operations:||World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War|
The USS Manatee (AO-58), the second U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name, was the Cimarron-class fleet replenishment oiler named for a river in Florida. Cimarron class oilers were named after American Indian rivers in the southern United States.
Manatee was laid down 28 August 1943 by the Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard, Inc. of Sparrows Point, Maryland as a Maritime Commission type (T3-S2-A3) tanker hull with a cargo capacity of 146,000 barrels, under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 724); launched 18 February 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Paul V. McNutt; and commissioned 6 April 1944 with Lieutenant Commander Joseph B. Smyth in command.
World War II
Shortly after a ten-day shakedown period, Manatee departed the Chesapeake Bay area for the Dutch West Indies. Loading at that oil center, she got underway for the Panama Canal and the Pacific. Arriving at Eniwetok 16 June, she replenished the amphibious forces then invading Saipan. She shuttled from Eniwetok to the fueling areas throughout the campaigns for Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, until moving to Manus, largest of the Admiralty Islands, 20 August. From Manus, she continued carrying fuel and other supplies to fast carrier groups through the Battle for Pelelieu and the first phase of the Philippine Campaign. By 20 October, when Manatee departed Manus for the last time, Ulithi Atoll had been secured and had become the center for the fleet oilers.
From the Admiralties, Manatee proceeded north to support the forces then covering the Leyte landings. Her fueling activities kept her in the Philippines until late February 1945, when she returned to Ulithi. From Ulithi she steamed back to Leyte Gulf to fuel the amphibious forces gathering for the Okinawa campaign. On 28 March she began shuttling oil from Ulithi to the carrier groups operating in the Battle of Okinawa. She continued to work this supply line until the securing of the island 21 June 82 days after the landings. On 2 July, Manatee was ordered to join other fast oilers in lending close support to carrier groups during strikes on the Japanese home islands. The oilers moving at night to rendezvous with the carriers, refueled them within 200 miles (320 km) of the enemy’s coastline and then retired. Efficient organization and rapid routing of empty oilers to Ulithi for refueling resulted in an ample supply of fuel oil for the fleet carrier forces.
Seaman First Class – Donald Mason (1944–1946)
With the cessation of hostilities 15 August, Manatee sailed for Ulithi en route to San Pedro, California, arriving 7 October 1945. The oiler soon again departed the west coast for the Far East, returning to the western Pacific at the end of November to support the occupation operations. She made three round trip voyages between the oil ports on the Persian Gulf and Tokyo before sailing for Hawaii. Overhaul completed at Pearl Harbor she departed Hawaii 11 September 1947 for the Persian Gulf. On this voyage the oiler was loaded at Ras Tanura, Arabia and off-loaded at Norfolk, Virginia having arrived 17 November via the Suez Canal and Gibraltar. Early the next year she departed for the Persian Gulf and made two voyages to Japan from Bahrein before returning to Norfolk 22 April 1948. She then commenced shuttle trips between Aruba, Bayonne, New Jersey, and NS Argentia, Newfoundland. Departing the latter port 2 June, she steamed via the Persian Gulf and Japan for California, arriving 20 August. On 6 January 1949 the oiler departed Long Beach, California for the western Pacific. Having completed three round trip cruises between Sasebo and the Persian Gulf, she returned to the west coast 17 July.
At San Francisco, her rig for fueling at sea was removed and Manatee began 20 months' service as an MSTS vessel. At first operating along the West Coast, her assignments soon extended to the Caribbean, gulf and east coasts. Before October 1950 she made four trips to Norfolk via the Panama Canal Zone and the Dutch West Indies, as well as several shuttle trips between the latter and east coast ports. On 27 October, she departed Boston for Ras Tanura on the Persian Gulf. By 17 February, having called at Manila, Yokosuka, and Pearl Harbor, she was back at Long Beach. There she was reequipped for fueling at sea and again became a fleet oiler to support the fleet in Korean War.
On 17 March 1951 Manatee arrived in Japanese waters to begin her first annual WesPac deployment. After brief periods at Tokuyama and Sasebo, she received orders to replenish the Taiwan Straits Patrol. She returned to Sasebo 20 May and commenced servicing United Nations ships in combat areas off the Korean coast. She continued to operate out of Sasebo for the next five months, returning to Long Beach 11 August. Her next two WestPac deployments, 21 March to 19 October 1952 and 6 February to 29 July 1953, followed the same pattern, one month with the Taiwan Straits Patrol and the remainder of the tour operating out of Sasebo in support of Korean operations.
For the next five years Manatee’s operating schedule continued to be six months in the western Pacific, six months on the west coast. During this period, she participated in fleet operations and in underway training exercises, as well as undergoing regular overhauls. Included in her Pacific deployment for 1954 was the replenishment of the ships present in the Marshall Islands for the March hydrogen bomb tests. Manatee received eight battle stars for World War II service and six for Korean War service.
Scheduled for only four months deployment in the western Pacific in 1958, mid-May through mid-September, Manatee remained an extra month to service the ships called to the area during the Formosa crisis over Quemoy and Matsu islands. The following year, after her four months WestPac duty, Manatee was chosen, because of consistently efficient service, to take part in a joint Canadian-American replenishment demonstration held 8 October 1959 for the 14th Annual Conference of the National Defense Transportation Association.
In the year that followed Manatee continued to alternate duty on the west coast with Far Eastern service. She was one of seven ships chosen to visit Australia, 29 April–13 May, for the 1963 Coral Sea celebration. With the stepped-up operations in Vietnam, Manatee’s 1964 WestPac tour was extended to 8½ months, May 1964 through January 1965. During this period she operated principally in the South China Sea. South China Sea operations also occupied most of her 1966, 1967, and 1968 tours, replenishing the ships of the 7th Fleet on patrol in that area in support of the Vietnam War.
After refueling the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga off the southern California coast on 20 August 1971; a valve on the Manatee was left open and about 1000 gallons (3800 liters) of "Bunker C" fuel oil were spilled. This created 30‑mile-long (50 km) oil slick that happened to wash ashore on the beach of President Nixon's Western White House in San Clemente, California. The Navy took charge of the clean up efforts and sent 100 sailors and Marines to clean the beaches.
Decommissioned in July 1973, Manatee was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 14 August 1973. Transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal, she was sold for scrapping, 10 December 1973, to Zidell Exploration of Portland, Oregon.
- "AO-58 Manatee". Service Ship Photo Archive. Retrieved 12 March 2007.
- "Navy Sends Party To Mop Up Slick". The Press-Courier. Oxnard, California. Associated Press. 24 August 1971. p. 3.
- 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.