USS Tallulah AO-50 (1942-1975)

The Tallulah was originally named the SS Valley Forge and was a fleet oiler in the United States Navy. It was laid down on the 1st of December in 1941 and launched on the 25th of June 1942.

Service in World War II

After shakedown training out of Norfolk, the Tallulah was underway on October 17, 1942 for New York. On the 24th of October, she left New York and, escorted by the British HMS Havelock, proceeded toward Panama with 32 merchant ships going through Guantanamo Bay. The Tallulah remained in Balboa for 3 days and on the 12th headed to New Caledonia. She stayed near Noumea for a week and arrived in San Francisco on January 4th 1943.

In 1943, she carried aircraft in addition to oil cargo, making five additional round trip voyages to the South pacific. The first on was January 4th until March 19, 1943. On February 15th, an escort attacked a submarine contact. Japanese torpedo bombers made their way to the convoy, but the Tallulah suffered no hits. The remaining round trips were mostly uneventful. The Tallulah received an overhaul in 1944 and departed for the Central Pacific. On June 1944, she departed Majuro and arrived in Eniwetok. During the Marianas campaign, the carriers from Task Force 58 destroyed the Japanese sea-borne air power entirely. The Tallulah supported the invasion of Luzon until January 1945 then returned to Ulithi. She was transferred out of the 7th into the 5th fleet for the invasions of Iwo Jima. For the remaining time the Tallulah served in World War II, it operated from the base at Ulithi in support of forces invading Okinawa.

After the War

On August 15th 1945, the war in the Pacific was over. The Tallulah made another round trip to Ulithi and back from August 17th until September 1st and on the 20th sailed to fuel ships near Jinses, Korea. During World War II, the Tallulah got seven battle stars and one for the Korean War later on.

The Tallulah was decommissioned on April 2 1946. It was struck from the Navy List on the 3rd of October. It was reacquired on February 2nd by the Navy and in October of 1949 transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service as the USNS Tallulah and kept the Navy supplied, seeing service during the Korean War in 1952. It was placed out of service in May of 1975, struck from the Navy List on March 31 1986, and disposed of on February 2, 1987.

Asbestos in Navy Ships

Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some auxiliary vessels 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.