The United States Navy took possession of the USS Vesuvius (AE-33) on July 4, 1944. The ship was commissioned on January 16, 1945, commanded by Comdr. Flavius J. George.
Service in the Pacific
At Okinawa in April 1945, the Vesuvius was attached to Service Squadron 6, her role was replenishing ammunition to the 3rd Fleet. In August she was Aordered to sail for the Gulf of Leyte. She stayed within the Philippines Islands up to the end of October, shortly after Japan’s surrender, and then headed for the United States mainland. She arrived in Orange, Texas, on February 13, where she remained until being placed in reserve status on August 20, 1946.
After the start of the Korean War, the Vesuvius was recommissioned in November 1952. She was refitted at Orange and ready to get underway by January. Before sailing to Japan she took on a cargo of ammunition at Port Chicago, California. After arriving in Japan in May she began supplying Task Force 77 which patrolled off the north east coast of Korea. Over the next ten years, the Vesuvius made a dozen extended deployments in Asia servicing the 7th Fleet and various other vessels in and around Japan and the Philippines. After these, the ship headed home to San Francisco, arriving in January 1964.
In January of 1965, the Vesuvius began taking on cargo for deployment for Far East duty. She reported in at Subic Bay on February 28, and after that she began her resupply operations in and around the South China Sea. In all, she made 182 replenishments during this deployment. After arriving at Concord, California, in November, she reported at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington, to undergo repairs.
From June through November 1966, the Vesuvius was engaged in resupply operations in the South China Sea and within the Philippines. After undergoing a major overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in 1967, she headed again for the South China Sea in July, where she served in her role faithfully resupplying the fleet there. The ship spent the next few years in resupplying operations in Asia with various maintenance stops in the United States until she reported to Concord on March 3, 1973.
After 28 years of faithful service, the USS Vesuvius was decommissioned on August 14, 1973. Her name was struck from the Navy list the same day, and though her fate is unknown, she is thought to have been sunk as a target shortly after decommissioning. She earned two battle stars for WWII service, two for Korea, and ten for Vietnam.
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.