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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Potomac

 

A river on the Eastern seaboard of the United States, emptying into Chesapeake Bay and forming a boundary between Virginia and Maryland.

 

V

 

(AO–150: dp. 32,953 (f); l. 620’; b. 84’; d. 32’; s. 18 k.; cpl. 52; a. none; cl. Maumee)

 

The fifth Potomac, a T5 type oiler built for MSTS, was laid down 9 June 1955; launched 8 October 1956 by Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Chester, Pa.; sponsored by Mrs. T. H. Robbins; and delivered 30 January 1957.

 

Operated by MSTS, Potomac supplied U. S. bases overseas with fuel oil and aviation gasoline until 3 October 1961 when she was wracked by fire and a series of explosions while alongside the Aviation Fuels Terminal Pier, Morehead City, N. C. Two men were killed in the explosion, and the forward part of the ship was declared a total loss. A disastrous waterfront fire was avoided by the prompt heroic action of crew members, coastguardsmen, and marines who prevented the fire from igniting large fuel storage tanks adjacent to the pier. The stern of the ship was cut away and towed to Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Va., for salvage. A new bow and forebody was constructed and welded to the 200 foot stern section, with the bridge and crew accomodations aft. The reconstructed ship, named Shenandoah (q.v.) was delivered to Keystone Shipping Company 11 December 1965, and was chartered by MSTS on a “bareboat” basis, with MSTS providing crew and operating expenses. The rebuilt oiler is providing logistic support to U.S. forces in the Pacific.