The USS Navasota was an Ashtabula-class oil tanker that supplied fuel, ammunition, and other supplies to ships at sea. The naval vessel was built in Pennsylvania in 1945, launched in August, and commissioned in February 1946.
Service in the Pacific
After training off the East Coast, the tanker sailed to Pearl Harbor but departed from there in July to bring fuel from the Persian Gulf to the Pacific Fleet. Returning to San Pedro, California, in September, the ship performed 4 months of training before returning to the Pacific Ocean. Future deployments included an assignment to Tsingtao, China, in April , returning to San Pedro in July and sailing to Pearl Harbor from August to October 1948. She returned to Tsingtao before heading back to Long Beach, California. In February the vessel sailed to Alaska and then to San Francisco in 1950.
In May 1950, the Navasota was again sent to the Pacific Ocean but changed course to Korea. The vessel had a part in the Inchon invasion in South Korea in September 1950. She left for Pearl Harbor and Japan in October and stayed until December to return to Long Beach. The oiler returned to Korea for refueling duty in March 1951.
After being overhauled in Long Beach from October 1951 to February 1952, she was stationed in the West Coast until heading for Sasebo, Korea. The ship returned to Long Beach in November 1952 and was again deployed to Sasebo in February 1953, returning to Long Beach in September 1953. She provided fuel in the Pacific for the next 10 years and was overhauled in Long Beach from February to May 1958. From October 1963 to December 1964, the ship completed “jumboization” in Harbor Island, Seattle, to lengthen the hull and install more cargo room.
Upon completion of training and maintenance in August 1965, the ship was sent to Subic Bay near the Philippines but returned to Long Beach in June 1966. Subic Bay became her main base until summer 1967, when the tanker returned to Long Beach for maintenance and exercises. Fueling duties near Vietnam resumed in January 1968. Future assignments included being stationed in the Pacific for half the year or more and servicing ships from Long Beach the rest of the year.
In August 1975, the decommissioned USS Navasota was transferred to Military Sealift Command under the classification T-AO-106 until 1991. The vessel was removed from service in 1992 and sold for scrap metal in October 1995. She was awarded nine battle stars for service in Korea.
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.