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Mattaponi

 

A river in eastern Virginia.

 

(AO‑41: dp. 5,809 (light); l. 520'; b. 68'; dr. 30'19"; s. 17.5 k.; cpl. 242; a. 1 5", 4 3", 8 40mm.; cl. Mattapon; T. T2‑Tanker.)

 

Mattaponi (AO‑41), built under Maritime Commission contract, was laid down originally as Kalkay (M.C.hull No. 149) by the Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Chester, Pa., 9 September 1941; launched as Mattaponi, 17 January 1942; sponsored by Mrs. E. Macauley; and commissioned 11 May 1942, Comdr. Martin J. Gillan, Jr., in command.

 

Mattaponi spent almost all of World War II in the Atlantic and Mediterranean theaters. From her commissioning until December 1942 she plied the waters off the east and gulf coasts carrying fuel from the Texas oil ports to the Navyís fuel storage depots at Craney Island, Yorktown, Newport, Boston, and Casco Bay. On 12 December she departed New York Harbor for the first of 21 wartime transatlantic convoys. As a vital link in the war effort, she carried, in addition to her cargo fuels, landing craft, aircraft, provisions, mail, medical supplies, and passengers. Her medical complement as well as her engineers and mechanics were often called on, at sea and in port, to remedy malfunctions, human and mechanical, on board other ships.

 

The tankerís convoy voyages during this period took her to Casablanca, Oran, Bizerte, Roseneath (Scotland), Londonderry, Fayal (Azores), and Port Royal (Bermuda) in addition to frequent runs to the Texas and Caribbean oil centers.

 

After 10 December 1944, Mattaponiís transatlantic crossings became less frequent due to a change in logistic tactics. Navy tankers no longer accompanied convoys, but were assigned, instead, to stand by at terminal points on either side of the Atlantic, rendezvousing and servicing convoy escorts as they passed the stations. Mattaponi was assigned, 10 December 1944 to 28 May 1945, to a group which rotated between Bermuda and the Azores as terminus tankers.

 

On 11 July 1945, following a monthís availability at Portsmouth, Va., Mattaponi departed Norfolk for duty with the 3d Fleet in the Pacific. She arrived at Pearl Harbor the day after the cessation of hostilities and continued on to the Carolines, anchoring in Ulithi Harbor 28 August. With the exception of two voyages to Pearl Harbor in December 1945 and January 1946, the tanker serviced the fleet in the western Pacific until January 1947. During this period she made three runs to the Persian Gulf for the products with which to fuel the ships at Yokosuka, Sasebo, Jinsen, Fusan, Taku, Tsingtao, and Manila.

 

On 20 January 1947 she arrived San Francisco for overhaul. She departed 20 April for further extended periods of duty on the high seas. During the next 212 years, interrupted by overhaul August to December 1948, Mattaponi completed two round‑the‑world voyages in addition to making numerous runs to the Persian Gulf and one to Aruba from such ports as Yokosuka, Sasebo, Buckner Bay, Manila, Piraeus, Taranto, and Norfolk.

 

On 21 October 1949, she entered the San Francisco Naval Shipyard for inactivation. In December she proceeded to San Diego, was immediately placed in the Reserve Fleet, and later decommissioned, 17 April 1950.

 

Soon recommissioned, 28 December 1950, Mattaponi served for almost 4 years as a Military Sea Transport Service vessel with the designation T‑AO‑41. Until June 1951 she operated primarily along the west coast, making one voyage to Japan in March. From June through September she carried fuel from Aruba to east coast ports, making one run to Iceland before returning to the west coast. With one interruption, a cruise to the Marshalls, August to September 1953, she continued to operate off the west coast with periodic voyages to the Aleutian and Hawaiian Islands until decommissioning again 12 October 1954. She then reentered the Reserve Fleet at San Diego.

 

On 12 December 1956 Mattaponi recommissioned. In service for the next 11 months, she made one round‑the‑world voyage, several runs to Bahrein from Norfolk, Sasebo, and Pozzuoli (Italy), and one between Aruba and Norfolk as well as a cruise to Cherbourg and Invergordan (Scotland) before mooring at New Orleans 10 November 1957. There, the next day, she decommissioned. On 1 February 1959 her name was struck from the Naval list.

 

Mattaponi was reinstated on the Naval list 1 September 1961, and recommissioned a third time at Mobile, Ala., 30 November 1962. Home ported at San Francisco, she spent all of 1962 on the west coast. On 2 July 1963, She departed for the western Pacific where she serviced ships of the 7th Fleet in the Japanese, Philippine, and East and South China Seas. Returning to the west coast 14 January 1964, she spent the remainder of that year in operations in the eastern Pacific, including joint exercises involving United States and Canadian naval units. From January to July 1965, Mattaponi again deployed for duty with the 7th Fleet.

 

In 1966 she operated off the west coast until 28 March, when she commenced overhaul in Richmond, Calif. Her overhaul completed on 27 July, Mattaponi resumed underway operations along the west coast. On 3 September the veteran oiler left San Francisco for WestPac, providing services for the 7th Fleet until the end of March 1967. She arrived back at San Francisco 17 April.

 

Mattaponi operated locally out of her home port through most of the summer, then departed again 8 September for duty off Vietnam, returning 17 April 1968. After a leave and upkeep period, followed by local operations, she left once more for the Far East in early October, and was providing services to the fleet there into 1969.