USS Neosho (AO-143)

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USNS Neosho (T-AO-143) underway at sea, circa in the 1980s (6392656).jpg
Neosho in 1985
United States
Name: USS Neosho
Builder: Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts
Laid down: 2 September 1952
Launched: 10 November 1953
Sponsored by: Mrs. Philipps
Commissioned: 24 September 1954
Decommissioned: 25 May 1978
In service: 25 May 1978
Out of service: 1992
Reclassified: T-AO-143, 1978
Struck: 16 February 1994
Identification:IMO number7737042
Motto: "Lifeblood of the Fleet"
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 2 February 2005
Badge: USS Neosho (AO-143) insignia, 1958 (NH 65718-KN).png
General characteristics
Class and type: Neosho-class oiler
  • 11,600 long tons (11,786 t) light
  • 38,000 long tons (38,610 t) full
Length: 655 ft (200 m)
Beam: 86 ft (26 m)
Draft: 35 ft (11 m)
  • 2 geared turbines
  • 2 boilers
  • 2 shafts
  • 28,000 shp (20.9 MW)
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Capacity: 180,000 bbl (29,000 m3)
  • USS : 324
  • USNS : 106 Civilian mariners, 21 Navy

USS Neosho (AO-143) was the lead ship of her class of fleet oilers of the United States Navy, in service from 1954 to the early 1990s.

The fourth Neosho was laid down 15 August 1952 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's Fore River Shipyard at Quincy, Massachusetts, and named Neosho on 29 September 1953. She was launched on 10 November 1953, sponsored by Mrs. Phillips, wife of Rear Admiral John S. Phillips, the last commanding officer of the USS Neosho (AO-23), which survived the Attack on Pearl Harbor and was sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea. AO-143 was commissioned on 24 September 1954, Captain Norman E. Smith in command.

Service history[edit]

United States Navy, 1954–1978[edit]

Neosho was the first of a class of U.S. Navy fleet oilers designed to combine speed and large cargo capacity for underway replenishment. She entered service at Norfolk, Virginia, in the Atlantic Fleet on 8 December 1954. A unit of Service Forces, Atlantic Fleet, she operated along the U.S. East Coast and in the Caribbean until 7 September 1955, when she got underway for her first Mediterranean deployment.

After that initial deployment, Neosho rotated regularly between the United States Sixth Fleet and the United States Second Fleet. During her second 6th Fleet deployment in autumn 1956, she supported units of the Sixth Fleet as they stood by in case they were called on to intervene in the Suez Crisis and the tense period which followed.

In August–September 1958 she joined Task Force 88 for Operation Argus, making three nuclear weapons tests in the South Atlantic. Her commanding officer served as Commander Task Group 88.3, the Mobile Logistics Group, consisted of: Neosho, equipped with USAF MSQ-1 radar and communication vans, USS Salamonie (AO-26), and assigned destroyers.

In the fall of 1962 she provided logistical support to the ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis enforcing the Naval Quarantine of Cuba. From Apr until July 1964 she had a complete overhaul in Baltimore MD dry dock. Less than three years later, in 1965, she serviced Atlantic Fleet ships during the political turmoil in the Dominican Republic, which later led to the United States 1965 Occupation of the Dominican Republic. By 1967 she had taken part in over 2,500 replenishments to transfer more than 640 million US gallons (2,400,000 m3) of petroleum products under both normal and crisis operational conditions.

In January 1968, Neosho emerged from overhaul at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard at Portsmouth, Virginia, to commence another three year employment cycle beginning with refresher training and local operations, followed by two seven month Mediterranean tours sandwiching duty with the 2nd Fleet, and ending, in late 1970, with another overhaul.

Military Sealift Command, 1978–1992[edit]

Neosho was decommissioned on 25 May 1978, and placed in service with the Military Sealift Command as USNS Neosho (T-AO-143), continuing her service with a civilian crew. She was placed out of service in 1992, and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 16 February 1994.


Neosho was transferred to the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) on 1 May 1999 for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River, Fort Eustis, Virginia. The ship was returned to U.S. Navy custody six years later and sold for scrapping on 2 February 2005. The scrapping was completed at International Shipbreaking of Brownsville, Texas on 8 November 2005.


External links[edit]

  • Photo gallery of USS Neosho (AO-143) at NavSource Naval History
  • USS Neosho (AO-143) Veteran's website
  • 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.

See also[edit]