The sixth AOG-1, also known as the USS Patapsco, was the United States Navy’s lead ship in its class of gasoline tankers during the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and World War II. The tanker ship was given its name in honor of the Patapsco River in Maryland.
The Patapsco was put down on May 25th, 1942 in Seattle by the Seattle Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp. On August 18th, the Patapsco was launched. The Patapsco was led by Lieutenant A. J. Church and commissioned on February 4th, 1943.
Service in World War II
Not more than three weeks after being commissioned, the Patapsco left San Francisco to Pearl Harbor. On March 27th, the ship went southwest toward New Caledonia where the Patapsco hauled gasoline and additional petroleum products to bases and ships in New Hebrides and the Solomons until November 1944. Following availability at Auckland, New Zealand, in December, the Patapsco returned to the Solomons and stayed until May 12th 1945, then left Guadalcanal for the Western Carolinas. The Patapsco shuttled petroleum, oil, and lubricants from Ulithi to the Palau and one time to Saipan from May 19th until the war’s end.
After World War II
Following the war, the Patapsco continued on with journeys to Ulithi and Palau and in November shifted it’s based for Guam, where it distributed light freight and fuel and transported passengers, to the Marianas. On February 19th, 1946, the Patapsco sailed in the eastern direction and following a stop in San Francisco, the ship sailed the Panama Canal and came to New Orleans for a May 3rd inactivation. The Patapsco was assigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, a Texas Group, after its May 29th decommissioning and landed at Orange, Texas.
Service in the Korean Conflict
The Patapsco was re-commissioned on October 19th, 1950 and, following a Norfolk overhaul, it left for the Pacific on March 3rd, 1951. The Patapsco came to Pearl Harbor on April 9th and until February 23rd, 1953, led fuel trips to Midway. Following a run with the Marshalls, the ship sailed to Japan and arrived on April 25th. After four days, the tanker left for fuel vessels that were off the coast of the Korean Peninsula and when it returned it to Sasebo it took up station tanker duties. In the latter part of October, the Patapsco went to Yokosuka, then sailed for Pearl Harbor. It was decommissioned on June 29, 1955.
Service in the Vietnam War
In 1965, the Patapsco was re-commissioned and assigned to duty with the Pacific Fleet. The vessel operated near Vietnam, Guam, and Subic bay. She completed two tours of service, transporting petroleum, oil, and, lubricants to troops. She was decommissioned and struck from the Naval Register on August 1, 1974 and was sold and converted to a fishing vessel on December 18, 1979.
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.