Nantahala II AO-60


Nantahala II
(AO-60: dp. 7 136, 1. 553', b. 75'; dr. 29'10"; s. 18 k.; cpl. 372; a. 1 5~,, 4 31,, 8 1.1"; 12 20 mm.; cl. Cimarron; T. T3-S2A1)

The second Nantahala (AO-60) was laid down under Maritime Commission contract by Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard, Ine., Sparrows Point, Md., 31 October 1943; launched 29 April 1944; sponsored by Miss Mary Louise Reed; delivered to the Navy 19 June 1944; and commissioned the same day, Comdr. Palmer M. Clunnell in command.

After shakedown in Chesapeake Bay, Nantahala departed Norfolk 22 July for the Dutch West Indies where, after loading a cargo of oil and gasoline at Aruba, she steamed for fleet tanker duty in the Pacific. Sailing via Pearl Harbor, she reached Kwajalein 25 August and served there as station tanker until heading for the Marianas 2 September. She arrived Guam the 10th and during the remainder of the month deployed twice to replenish ships of the 3rd Fleet pounding Japanese positions from the Palaus to the Philippines.

Nantahala reached Ulithi, Western Carolines, 1 October to continue station and at sea logistic support for the mighty, hard-hitting ships of the Pacific Fleet. When not steaming with a replenishment group in the Western Pacific, she refueled and replenished ships at Ulithi. During the remainder of the war she serviced as many as 16 ships a dav at this important forward staging base. While anchored in Ulithi Lagoon, she took part in rescue operations following an enemy midget submarine attack which resulted in the torpedoing and burning of Mississinewa (AO-59) on 20 November.

Between 21 October and 24 December Nantahala made four deployments in support of ships of the Fast Carrier Task Force. She operated with the replenishment tankers during the Battle off Cape Engaho 25-26 October, and during November and December she ranged the Philippine Sea as carrier aircraft pounded enemy targets on Formosa and in the Philippines. During refueling operations in mid-December, she survived the great typhoon of 17-18 December, although winds, which she recorded at 124 knots, and giant seas caused considerable topside damage.

Nantahala returned to Ulithi 24 December, and sailed 3 January 1945 to support carrier operations in the South China Sea. While she refueled ships of the task force north and west of Luzon, American planes struck devastating blows at
Japanese shipping and at enemy bases from Indochina to Formosa while supporting the invasion of Luzon at Lingayen Gulf.

After returning to Ulithi via Leyte Gulf 21 January, Nantahala next made two refueling deployments from 8 February to 10 March in support of the invasion and capture of Iwo Jima. Thenee, between 22 March and 31 May she took part in three replenishment missions to the Ryukyus where she helped maintain the mobility and striking power of American ships during the invasion and conquest of Okinawa.

After serving as station tanker in Leyte Gulf, Philippines Nantahala departed Ulithi 3 July for extended replenishment duty with the 3d Fleet. Assigned to the main replenishment group, she refueled carriers and escorts of TF 38 during the closing weeks of the war, a period in which the might of American seapower pounded targets in the Japanese home islands from Hokkaido to the Inland Sea with intensive and devastating naval and aerial bombardments.

Enroute to Ulithi when offensive operations ceased 15 August, Nantahala resumed refueling operations off Japan thc 27th. Bctwecn 8 and 16 September she serviced victorious ships of the Fleet at anchor in Tokyo Bay; thence, she sailed via Eniwetok for the United States, arriving Seattle 10 November.

During the immediate postwar years Nantahala conducted world-wide refueling and replenishment operations. She deploved to the Far East 28 January 1946, and, until returning to San Pedro, Calif., 26 March 1947, she operated from the Marianas and Japan to the coast of China, the Philippines, and the Malay Peninsula and in addition carried oil from the Middle East to the Far East. Between 12 September and 20 November she cruised from the West Coast to the East Coast via the Middle East and Suez, and during the next years she made two deployments to the Mediterranean before returning to the West Coast 23 October 1948. The far-ranging oiler made a seven month deployment to the Far East in 1949. After returning to the West Coast 22 October 1949, she decommissioned at San Diego 1 June 1950 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

Nantahala recommissioned at Long Beach 29 December 1950, Comdr. W. S. Howell in command. Following a five week run to the Far East and back she transited the Panama Canal 3 April and carried fuel to the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. She arrived Boston 19 May and during the next ten months operated along the East Coast and in the Caribbean.

Between 3 March 1952 and 4 October l96l Nantahala made eight deployments to the Mediterranean where she served with the mighty 6th Fleet. They varied in duration from three to seven months and encompassed the length and breadth of the Mediterranean. Prepared to replenish whenever ealled upon, this versatile, hard-working oiler provided valuable support for peace-keeping operations by the ever-vigilant 6th Fleet. During the Suez Crisis in November, 1956, for instance, she replenished 96 ships while serving as the only fleet oiler in the Eastern Mediterranean. When not deployed with the 6th Fleet, she participated in U.S. or NATO exercises in the North Atlantic and refueled ships of the Atlantic Fleet while eruising from the eoast of Western Europe to the eoast of Brazil as well as to the Caribbean and along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

On 20 November 1961 Nantahala departed Norfolk for the Dominiean Republie where she supported U.S. ships ealled in to protect the stability of that Caribbean nation's government from possible overthrow by followers of the late dictator Trujillo. After returning to Norfolk the following month, she resumed replenishment duty off the West Indies in January 1962 in preparation for recovery operations following USMC Col. John Glenn's sueeessful suborbital Hight in "Friendship 7" on 20 February.

During the next year and a half Nantahala operated along the East Coast and in the Caribbean. While serving out of Guantanamo Bay in mid-February 1963, she took part in the search for and tracking of Anzoategui, a Venezuelan freighter which was seized by Cuban-oriented leftists off Santo Domingo. U.S. ships chased the hijacked ship to the eoast of Brazil where she was captured by units of the Brazilian Navy. In May Nantahala again replenished ships of the reeovery force waiting to piek up Projeet Mecury Astronaut

Commander M. Scott Carpenter, USN, after his orbital flight 24 May.

Nantahala departed for the Mediterranean 6 August for operations which lasted until late in the year. From 1963 she maintained a pattern of Mediterranean deployments and alternated duty in the 6th Fleet with replenishment eruises and Atlantic Fleet exercises in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. At present, she continues to provide valuable logistic support for the Nation's peace-keeping Naval forces in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Nantahala received six battle stars for World War II service.