The Navy commissioned the USS Guadalupe, a Cimarron class oiler, on June 19, 1941, just before the outbreak of World War II. The Navy named the oiler after the Guadalupe River in Texas. The ship displaced 24,830 tons when full and had a length of 553 feet, a beam of 75 feet, a draft of 32 feet 4 inches, and a crew of 304. The oiler had steam propulsion capable of making 18 knots through the water. The Guadalupe had four 5-inch main batteries, four 40-mm anti-aircraft guns, and four 20-mm anti-aircraft guns.
Service in World War II and Korea
During her first deployment, the Guadalupe sailed to the West Pacific to resupply Pearl Harbor and Cavite in the Philippines. She returned to Norfolk, Virginia, on November 13. After the war commenced, the Guadalupe sailed back to the Pacific, where she took part in a number of major campaigns during the war. The first of these took place at the Battle of Midway, the first naval defeat suffered by the Japanese empire in 350 years.
The process of refueling ships while at sea was still being perfected, but the Guadalupe performed this duty throughout the Pacific. The beginning of 1943 took her to the Aleutians and then to the assault on the Gilbert Islands. In 1944, after an overhaul, she took part in landings at Truk and the Marianas Islands as well as the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
After the invasion of Lingayen, the tanker collided with another tanker in the Luzon Strait on January 9, 1945. The Guadalupe continued her mission, despite damage, which allowed the USS Yorktown to strike Formosa. She sailed to Ulithi for repairs and then was underway in time for her two last actions at Iwo Jima in February and March. She also refueled the invasion fleet for Okinawa and remained in the West Pacific until the end of the war.
The Guadalupe remained in service between the wars. She steamed mainly in the Pacific from 1945 to 1950. When the Korean War began in June 1950, the Navy had the Guadalupe in port undergoing a yard period in Long Beach. During the Korean conflict, the Guadalupe spent the majority of her time refueling ships off the coast of Korea, taking part in the Wonsan siege and operating in the West Pacific.
After the War
The Guadalupe also saw service during the Vietnam War and had a brief part in the John Wayne movie In Harm’s Way in 1965. The Navy finally decommissioned Guadalupe in 1974 and sold her for scrap the next year.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some tankers and oilers 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 to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.