USS Cimarron AO-22 (1939-1968)
The USS Cimarron was constructed by the Sun ShipBuilding & Drydock Co. based out of Chester Pennsylvania. She was launched on January 7th, 1939 and then commissioned under the Comdr. William Behrens, Jr. on March 20th, 1939. The Cimarron was named after a river in the United States.
Following her shakedown voyage and training period, the Cimarron sailed for Pearl Harbor via Houston. She took on oil there and began making oil runs to refuel ships in the Pacific. On August 19th, 1940, she was reassigned to the east coast after a brief overhaul in Norfolk, Virginia. She made several refueling missions, and also took part in an amphibious operation in the next few months. On November 15th, 1941, she was assigned to a convoy of ships that was sailing to Singapore. However, she left the convoy at Cape Town, and remained there until March 4th, 1942, when she sailed back to the United States.
Service in World War II
After the beginning of World War II, the Cimarron immediately set sail for Pearl Harbor, stopping at San Francisco along the way. She was grouped with Task Force 58, which was to conduct the first attack against Tokyo in the war on April 18th. Along with another oiler, the USS Sabine, they kept the fleet refueled, and after finishing the strike, headed back to Pearl Harbor on April 25th. Later, she was active in fueling operations in the Solomon Islands as well as Midway. On December 18th, she also was present at the last week of the Guadalcanal campaign, where she was stationed at Noumea.
Upon the conclusion of World War II, she was ordered back to the states where she received an overhaul at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. She then began oil transport missions to the Marshall Islands, in support of ships operating in the Korean War. After the Korean outbreak was over, she served for several years as a training ship, and then continued serving the Navy in the Vietnam War.
Unfortunately, during a fueling operation the Cimarron was hit by another U.S. ship, the Hornet. This caused her to be removed from active service and eventually decommissioned in October of 1968. She was sold as scrap metal one year later, in 1969.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some tankers also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.