A river in east Texas.
(AO–106: dp. 7,423, (It.) 25,480 (f.); l. 553’; b. 75’; dr. 32’; s. 16 k.; cpl. 304; a. 1 5”, 4 3”, 8 40mm.; cl. Cimarron; T. T3–S2–A3)
Navasota (AO–106) was laid down under Maritime Commission contract 22 February 1945 as MC hull 2702 by Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Chester, Pennsylvania; launched 30 August 1945; sponsored by Mrs. A. Hahn; and commissioned 27 February 1946, Comdr. David H. McCluskey, USNR, in command.
After three months of shakedown and training off the East Coast Navasota steamed via the Panama Canal for Pearl Harbor and the western Pacific. Assigned to Service Force, Pacific Fleet, she departed Pearl Harbor 3 July to bring petroleum products from the Persian Gulf to the Pacific fleet. She stood out of Yokosuka 20 August for San Pedro, California, arriving 2 September. For the next four months the oiler was in an operational training status, and on 30 January 1948 she again deployed to WESTPAC. After serving as station ship at Tsingtao, China from April through June, she returned to San Pedro, California, 7 July, thence to Pearl Harbor in August.
Navasota departed Pearl Harbor 13 October, once again enroute the Far East. She departed Yokosuka 20 November for Tsingtao and remained on station until 30 December, when she sailed for California via Pearl Harbor. She arrived Long Beach, 19 January 1949, steamed to Kodiak, Alaska 1 February, returned to San Francisco the 25th and continued to operate on the west coast for the next year.
Navasota again deployed to WESTPAC 1 May 1950. When the North Koreans crossed the 38th Parallel 25 June, the oiler steamed for Korean waters to fuel Allied ships in the area. In late August she put in at Keelung, Formosa, but she was back in Korean waters to take part in the Inchon invasion 15 September.
She steamed for Pearl Harbor 22 October and then for Japan via Kwajelein and Guam. Departing Japan 16 December, she arrived at Long Beach 30 December, only to return to the Far East 31 March 1951 for further operations off Wonsan, Korea.
During her Korean operations Navasota fueled ships in Subic Bay, Buckner Bay, the Pescadores Islands, Formosa, Japan, and Korea. She returned to Long Beach for overhaul from October 1951 until February 1952. The oiler operated off the west coast until getting underway 3 April for Sasebo and resumption of her Korean fueling operations. She remained in the area of Wonsan and Songjin, Korea for the next seven months and then returned to Long Beach, arriving 13 November.
Navasota steamed 2 February 1953 for Pearl Harbor to participate in Mercantile Convoy Exercise RES 53B, after which she called at Sasebo 26 February to commence her fourth Pacific deployment. For the next seven months she conducted fueling operations in Korean waters. She was also utilized as station ship at Kaohsiung, Formosa, where she fueled units of the Formosa Straits Patrol until she headed for Long Beach 3 September.
For the next ten years Navasota continued to provide fueling services to the fleet through her annual WESTPAC deployments. In one overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard (February–May 1958), all guns save her single 3” mounts were removed.
Highlights in this period included service as fuel ship during the nuclear weapons tests at Bikini in the summer of 1956 and her WESTPAC deployment of 1958, when she refueled 174 ships from August through November while serving as station ship at Makung, Pescadores.
Upon completion of her fifteenth WESTPAC deployment 14 October 1963, Navasota was scheduled for “Jumboization” the first oiler so designated. She steamed 14 November for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington for preliminary preparations, then entered Puget Sound Bridge and Drydock Co., Plant No. 2, Harbor Island, Seattle for the conversion. Her new 394 foot midsection was built in Kawasaki Dock Yard, Kobe, Japan and towed to Seattle by the Japanese tug Daisho Maru NO. 1.
The “Jumboization” process consisted of five basic steps. First, the bow was removed and retained in the drydock while the rest of the ship was floated out. Next, the new section was carrier and a destroyer simultaneously floated in, raised, and joined to the bow. Third, the bridge structure was transferred to the new section by heavy lift crane 9 January 1964. Then the stern section was severed and retained in drydock while the old midsection was floated out. In the last step, the new section with bow and bridge structure attached, was floated into the dock, raised, and joined to the stern.
Although replacement of the midsection was the single largest change in the fifteen million dollar process, many other important improvements were made during the conversion. A major modification was made to the stern, including a new counterbalanced rudder, new stern casting and struts, and new shorter propeller shafts and stern tubes. The latest in fueling and replenishment at sea equipment was also added, including kingposts with outriggers, ram tensioned span wires and high lines, electric hydraulic winches, cargo elevators, helo pickup area, and sliding blocks and cargo drop reels at replenishment stations. New electric pumps, larger cargo piping, and double hose fueling rigs were also added, as well as a 4,500 KW auxiliary diesel generator plant, and more enclosed stowage space. Habitability was also improved.
Navasota left the yard 28 December 1964. Her new dimensions were: dp. 12,840 (light), 33,987 (f); 1. 644’; dr. 34’9”. After upkeep and training, Navasota steamed 20 August 1965 on her sixteenth WESTPAC deployment, arriving Subic Bay 11 September and returning Long Beach, 6 June 1966.
Navasota again steamed for WESTPAC 11 October. Arriving Subic Bay 3 November, she operated in the Gulf of Tonkin and in coastal waters off North and South Viet Nam in support of 7th Fleet combatants, with Subic Bay as her base of operations. The summer of 1967 brought the oiler back to Long Beach for upkeep and west coast operations until she again deployed to the western Pacific 5 January 1968 to assume support duties for 7th Fleet forces off Viet Nam. Through 1970 she has continued to deploy to WESTPAC for six to eight months of each year, while the remainder is spent operating out of Long Beach as part of Service Force, Pacific Fleet, in support of 1st Fleet operations and the Fleet Training Group, San Diego.
Navasota received nine battle stars for Korean War service.