The Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. of Chester, Pennsylvania, laid down the oiler Mispillion (AO-15) on February 14, 1945. She was later launched on August 10 and the Navy acquired her in late November, commissioning Mispillion on December 29, putting Comdr. R. E. Wingler at the helm.
Service in the Pacific
The Mispillion operated extensively all over the Pacific Ocean. Although she was brought into service too late to participate in World War II, she was very active in the post-war reconstruction efforts. She was attached to the Service Force Pacific between 1946 and 1948, and then she performed important tanker duty by delivering necessary fuel to Shanghai, Subic Bay, Tsingtao and Eniwetok from the Arabian oil port of Bahrein. The Mispillion also serviced the ports in China, Japan, the Marshall Islands, the Philippines and the Marianas Islands.
In 1948 the Mispillion served as a station tanker during Operation Sandstone near Eniwetok, during which the U.S. tested a series of atomic bombs. Just before the Korean War outbreak, the ship was off Alaska conducting cold weather operations in 1949. She joined the Task Force (90) patrolling off eastern coast of Korea once hostilities broke out. She was vital in her logistical support role for the massive U.N. invasion that landed at Inchon on September 15, 1950.
She returned to the United States for maintenance in fall of 1951, and then headed back for her second combat tour in November of the same year. She continued to provide support to the United Nations naval force blockading the North Korean coastline. She was with the U.N. naval forces when they bombed supply areas, transportation centers, and provided shore bombardment supporting ground forces against enemy troop concentrations.
The Mispillion also provided aviation gasoline for the fast carriers of Task Force 77 operating in the Sea of Japan. She returned again to the U.S. mainland for maintenance in August 1952 and then sailed with the 7th Fleet during their western Pacific tour in September of the same year.
Between the years 1953 to 1974 she served on the west coast and in the Pacific in various exercises, as well as participating in the atomic tests of Operation Redwing in 1956 in the Marshalls.
The oiler was decommissioned in July 1974 and transferred to the Military Sealift Command as a civilian craft USNS Mispillion. She was awarded eight battle stars for service in the Korean War. She was struck from the Naval record in 1995, and is now awaiting disposal in the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
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 in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.