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Housatonic

 

One of the rivers of New England which rises in Berkshire County, Mass., and flows southward into Connecticut before emptying into Long Island Sound a little east of Bridgeport.

 

III

 

(AO-35: dp. 21,825 fl.; l. 520'0"; b. 68'0"; dr. 30'10"; s. 17 k.; cpl. 239; a. 14", 4 3"; cl. Chicopee)

 

The third Housatonic was a tanker completed in November 1941 by the Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Chester, Pa., under the name Esso Albany. After two voyages for Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, she was acquired by the Navy 9 January 1942, converted to a fleet oiler, and renamed Housatonic.

 

Shakedown training in Chesapeake Bay ended 10 March, and Housatonic joined Service Force, Atlantic Fleet. During the remainder of 1942 Housatonic carried fuel oil and aviation gas from the Gulf of Mexico to ports on the Atlantic Coast and in the Caribbean. A shortage of escorts necessitated the oiler's proceeding alone through waters infested with German submarines which were making many kills at that time. In July, the fleet oiler performed her first fueling at sea, servicing carrier Ranger, cruiser Augusta, and six destroyers engaged in ferrying Army P-40 fighter plans aboard the carrier from Port of Spain to Akkra on the Gold Coast of Africa. Fuel from Housatonic enabled this group to return to Port of Spain without stopping or putting into any port during the entire voyage.

 

In November, during Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, Housatonic fueled battleships, cruisers, and destroyers while they were at sea supporting the assault and capture of Cassablanca, French Morocco.

 

During 1943, the fleet oiler made four voyages to the Mediterranean from New York and Norfolk fueling destroyers at sea as they escorted convoys which supported the victorious allied campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, and southern Italy. In between these voyages she made one run from Norfolk to Argentia, Newfoundland and five from Texas ports to Norfolk. The close of the year found her at Bermuda training new destroyer escorts in the techniques of fueling at sea.

 

In 1944 Housatonic made three voyages from Norfolk to the Mediterranean, the first to Casablanca, the next to Oran, and the last to Naples. Then came a round trip from New York to Scotland and -back with fast convoys. The highlight of this voyage came in Clyde where she fueled Queen Elizabeth.

 

Housatonic departed Norfolk 20 November for the Caroline Islands via Aruba, the Panama Canal, and Pearl Harbor. She arrived Ulithi 31 December and joined the Service Force, Pacific Fleet. From the first of the year until the surrender of Japan Housatonic was based at Ulithi whence she steamed to sea to fuel carriers, battleships, battle cruisers, cruisers, and destroyers of fast carrier groups which hammered Japanese installations as gigantic America sea power swept inexorably toward Japan. In this way she supported operations which took Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa and which bombarded the Japanese home islands.

 

After the surrender of Japan, Housatonic operated in the Yellow Sea fueling carriers, cruisers, and destroyers of the 7th Fleet which were supporting the occupation of North China and Korea. Floating mines made this duty particularly dangerous.

 

Housatonic arrived Tokyo Bay 17 October, and remained there until departing for the United States 12 November. She arrived San Francisco 26 November and decommissioned there 11 March 1946. She was transferred to the Maritime Commission 22 October and was sold to her former owner, The Standard Oi! Company of New Jersey, 14 October 1947.