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Cacapon (AO-52)


A river in West Virginia. 

(AO-52: displacement 7,470; length 553'; beam75'; draft 32'4"; speed 18 knots; complement 302; armament 1 5-inch, 4 3-inch, 8 40 millimeter; class Cimarron; type T3-S2-A1)

Cacapon (AO-52) was launched on 12 June 1943 by Bethlehem-Sparrows Point Shipyard, Inc., Sparrows Point, Md., under a Maritime Commission contract (MC Hull No. 718); sponsored by Mrs. A. V. Doherty; acquired by the Navy on 21 September 1943; and commissioned the same day, Lt. Cmdr. G. Eyth in command.

On 22 October 1943, Cacapon sailed from Norfolk to load fuel at Aruba in the West Indies en route to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived 12 November. On 30 November she rendezvoused with the 5th Fleet to deliver fuel at sea to the ships carrying out the Gilbert Islands operation. After a west coast overhaul, she returned to Pearl Harbor, from which she sailed 3 February 1945 to carry her vital logistic support to TF 50, then engaged in the Marshall Islands operation. She carried fuel on which all modern naval warfare depends to units of the 3d Fleet from March into May, as the mighty task forces sent their strikes against Rabaul, Kavieng, Green, Emirau, and the Admiralties. During a part of this period, she served temporarily with the 7th Fleet's service support group for the New Guinea operation.

Cacapon served as station tanker successively at Efate and Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides; Port Purvis, Solomon Islands; and Manus, Admiralty Islands, until 8 January, when she cleared Manus for Ulithi. Here she reported to the 3d Fleet, and between 12 and 27 January her operations supported TF 38 during its series of strikes against Luzon and Formosa supporting the Philippine attacks and consolidation. Cacapon lengthened the list of operations to which she had given vital support as she steamed with the 5th Fleet during the Iwo Jima operation, from 15 to 26 February, and the Okinawa operation from 24 March to 30 June. Between these, she served briefly as station tanker in San Pedro Bay, P.I.

Cacapon brought her essential aid to the 3d Fleet in its final devastating air attacks and bombardments on the Japanese home islands in July 1945, and on 20 September entered Tokyo Bay. Ten days later she cleared for San Pedro, Calif., arriving for overhaul 11 October. She returned to the Far East in December, providing support to occupation forces with a shuttle service between Yokohama and Shanghai and Tsingtao, China. In April 1946 she sailed to Bahrein in the Persian Gulf to load oil for delivery to Kwajalein Atoll, where her cargo was to be used during Operation "Crossroads". However, on the first day at sea, 24 April, she ran on Shah Allum Shoal in the Persian Gulf. While the current pulled her clear, her engine and fire rooms began to flood and all power was lost. Aided by Fort Erie, and Fort Stanwick, and  sister ship Chikaskia (AO-54), Cacapon put back to Bahrein for temporary repairs, and proceeded to San Pedro, Calif., for permanent repairs.

On 2 December 1946, Cacapon cleared San Pedro, Calif., for 10 weeks in the Antarctic in Operation "High-jump". She called at Sydney, Australia, en route Long Beach, Calif., returning home 8 April 1947. Between 1947 and 1950 she cruised in the Pacific on two extended Far Eastern tours.

Far Eastern operations continued to be the rule for Cacapon when war broke out in Korea in June 1950; she completed four lengthy tours of duty there during the three years of fighting. Sailing with the 7th Fleet and the Formosa Patrol Force, she carried fuel and supplies to these sea forces. On her first tour, during which she helped to support the amphibious landing at Inchon on 15 September 1950, she earned the Navy Unit Commendation for her high performance of duty.

From the end of hostilities in Korea through 1960, Cacapon made six more Far Eastern tours, continuing to sail with the 7th Fleet and the Taiwan Patrol Force.

During her 1955 tour she took part in the evacuation of the Tachen Islands from 6 to 14 February, and the Vietnam evacuation "Passage to Freedom" operation of 6 to 15 March. From February to August of 1958, she joined in Operation "Hardtack" at Bikini. The intervals between deployments  found her operating locally from Long Beach.

Transferred to the Maritime Administration (successor to the Maritime Commission) on 4 December 1973, the ship was acquired by the Zidell Explorations Co., Inc., on 4 December 1973 and delivered to the purchaser on 7 December 1973, for  non-transportation use. 

Cacapon received four battle stars for World War II service, and the Navy Unit Commendation and nine battle stars for Korean war service.

Published: Wed Mar 08 14:54:37 EST 2023