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Laramie (AO-16)


Named for the river in northern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming that enters the North Fork of the Platte River at Fort Laramie, Wyoming.


(AO-16: displacement 4,410; length 430'; beam 58'; draft 25'6" (mean); speed 11 knots; complement 107; armament none)

The first Laramie (AO-16) was laid down on 14 April 1919 at Philadelphia, Pa., under a United States Shipping Board (USSB) contract (Emergency Fleet Corporation Hull No. 1652)  by William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co. ; launched on 26 November 1919; transferred from the USSB by Executive Order No. 3570 of 29 October 1921; pacquired by the Navy at Mobile, Ala., on 17 December 1921; and commissioned at New Orleans, La., on 28 December 1921, Lt. Cmdr. Preston Herndon, USNRF, in command.

Steaming from Mobile on 10 January 1922, Laramie reached Norfolk on 13 January and decommissioned there on 19 June. She was recommissioned in ordinary on 26 June 1940 at Philadelphia, Cmdr. James J. Hughes  -- a holder of the Navy Cross earned in December 1937 as commanding officer of the river gunboat Panay (PR-5) -- in command. She arrived at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., on 28 June to begin receiving alterations. She was recommissioned in full on 6 December 1940.

Returning to Philadelphia on 15 December 1940, she soon steamed to Norfolk, arriving there on 17 January 1941 for duty with the Atlantic Fleet. Between 18 January and 5 June, Laramie made six runs to Baton Rouge, La., to transport fuel oil to Norfolk and Bermuda, British West Indies. She sailed from Norfolk to Bahia Bay, Brazil, proceeding via Guantanamo Bay (24 June -21 July). She operated along the Brazilian coast until 13 August, then returned to Norfolk on 1 September for overhaul. Departing on 11 October, she carried fuel oil via Boston and St. John's, Newfoundland, to Narsarssuak, Greenland, where she arrived on 25 October.

When the United States entered the war against the Axis powers in December 1941, Laramie was operating along the southwestern coast of Greenland carrying oil and gasoline. She steamed from Narsarssuak to Norfolk via Sydney, Nova Scotia (11 - 23 December); and, after completing two fueling runs to Baton Rouge, she cleared Casco Bay, Maine, on 8 March 1942 with a cargo of gasoline and oil for Army bases in Greenland. Throughout the remainder of 1942 and during 1943 she plied the North Atlantic, transporting liquid and dry cargo to Greenland from Boston; New York; Sydney, Nova Scotia; and Argentia and St. John's, Newfoundland.

Loaded with 361,000 gallons of aviation gasoline, 55,000 barrels of oil, and with general cargo, including depth charges, Laramie departed Sydney for Greenland on 26 August 1942. On the evening of the 27th, she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-165 while steaming in convoy SG-6 at the eastern end of Belle Isle Strait. Hit on the port side forward, she immediately listed to port and went down by the bow some 37 feet. The blast demolished the forward crew's quarters, killing four men; opened a hole 41 feet long and 34 feet high, causing extensive flooding forward; and ruptured the port gasoline tank, spraying the ship with volatile liquid and explosive fumes.

Despite flooding and imminent danger of explosion, Cmdr. Peter M. Moncy, Laramie's commanding officer, took immediate and effective action to save his ship. Although gasoline ran ankle-deep over the forward gun platforms, no fires broke out, and a steam-smothering system protected unruptured holds. Prompt pumping of liquid cargo corrected the list and reduced the forward draft. Escorted by Coast Guard cutter Mohawk (WPC-78), Laramie limped back to Sydney 30 August before steaming to Boston (2 - 5 September) for repairs. Cmdr. Moncy later received the Navy Cross for directing the saving of Laramie under extremely hazardous conditions.

After a run to Aruba, Netherlands West Indies, from 21 February to 2 March 1944 for a cargo of gasoline, Laramie resumed voyages to Greenland out of Boston on 25 March. She returned to Aruba on 28 August; carried fuel to Newfoundland via Guantanamo and Boston (7 - 27 September); then returned to the Caribbean on 17 October to shuttle liquid cargo between Aruba and Guantanamo. Steaming to New York via Bermuda (9 - 20 November), she resumed shuttle runs along the eastern seaboard to Newfoundland and Greenland.

On 8 August 1945, Laramie arrived Boston from Grondal, Greenland. Steaming to Norfolk (4 - 6 September), she was decommissioned  16 November 1945. She was transferred to the Maritime Commission 11 June 1946 and on 1 July 1947 was delivered to Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Md.

Published: Wed Nov 25 11:13:19 EST 2015