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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Nespelen

 

A river in the state of Washington.

 

(AOG–55: dp. 4,335 (f.); l. 310’9”; b. 48’6”; dr. 15’8”; s. 14 k.; cpl. 124; cl. Patapsco)

 

Nespelen (AOG–55) was laid down 28 August 1944 by Cargill Incorporated, Savage, Minn.; launched 10 April 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Mabel P. McClanahan; and commissioned 9 August 1945, Lt. Thomas W. Purcell, USNR, in command.

 

After shakedown off Galveston, Tex., the new gasoline tanker took on a load of diesel fuel and departed for Cuba. She arrived at Guantanamo Bay 26 September, unloaded her cargo, and proceeded to Havana. Remaining in Cuban waters, she made four shuttle trips between Havana and Guantanamo Bay between 4 October and 11 November. Then Nespelen made a turn-about trip to Port Arthur, Tex., returning to Guantanamo Bay 22 November with a full load of motor gasoline. Following a short repair period, she steamed to Aruba for a cargo of diesel oil and then proceeded to Boston.

 

Arriving Boston 9 December, she was drydocked for repairs to her auxiliary engines and port propeller. She then steamed to Newfoundland, reaching Argentia Christmas Day. She operated in the Newfoundland area until sailing 26 February 1946 for Bermuda, stopping enroute at Melville, R.I. and Bayonne, N.J., to load diesel oil to be delivered to the U.S. Navy Base, St. George, Bermuda. After a three-day stop-over she returned to Newfoundland via Marcus Hook, Pa. For the next year and one half she carried gasoline and diesel oil between Argentia and St. Johns, Newfoundland; Melville, R.I.; Aruba; and Trinidad.

 

Remaining with Service Force, Atlantic Fleet, she continued operations tip and down the Atlantic seaboard. Then duties took Nespelen to such ports as Narsarssuak, Greenland; Terceira Island in the Azores; Lake Melville, Labrador; Casablanca, French Morocco; Thule, Greenland; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Godthab, Greenland and Resolute Bay in addition to numerous east coast ports.

 

In November 1952 orders arrived sending the oiler to the Mediterranean and the 6th Fleet. She visited such ports as Malta; Bari and Naples, Italy; Casablanca and Marseilles.

 

On 3 January 1953 Nespelen slipped her moorings and continned on to Golfe Juan and then sailed to Tripoli, Oran, Naples, Augusta Bay, Sicily and back to Tripoli where she moored 8 February. She operated out of Tripoli until 19 March at which time she got underway for Bari; Phaleron Bay, Greece; Larnaca, Cyprus; Malta and Gibraltar, her last stop in the Mediterranean before sailing 14 April 1953 for the United States, arriving Norfolk on the 26th. She steamed tip and down the East Coast, travelling as far north as Thule, Greenland and as far south as Bermuda until February 1954. She was then assigned another tour of duty in the Mediterranean and revisited the previous ports and such new ones as Iskenderun, Turkey; Genoa and Naples, Italy; Sete and St. Louis du Rhone, France before heading home in June.

 

In January 1955 she departed Norfolk for Gibraltar and a third tour of duty with the 6th Fleet which lasted until May, when she returned to the United States and Norfolk. In the Fall–Winter of 1955–1956, Nespelen participated in operation “Deep Freeze,” a scientific expedition into the frozen wastes of Antarctica.

 

In the years that followed Nespelen resumed her pattern of operations: alternating duty carrying fuel from ports in the Caribbean and on the East Coast to bases in the far northern Atlantic with deployments in the Mediterranean supporting the 6th Fleet. In the summer of 1969 she headed back to the volatile ‘Mediterranean to support American sea strength through the end of the year.