Maumee II (Fuel Ship No. 14)
The second U.S. Navy ship named for a river flowing from Indiana through Ohio to empty into Lake Erie at Toledo.
(Fuel Ship No. 14: displacement 14,500; length 475'7"; beam 56'; draft 26'6"; speed 14 knots; complement 150)
The second Maumee (Fuel Ship No. 14) -- originally projected as Fleet Oiler No. 2 and reclassified to a fuel ship on 4 January 1913 -- was laid down on 23 July 1914 at Vallejo, Calif., by the Mare Island Navy Yard; launched on 17 April 1915; and sponsored by Miss Janet Crose, daughter of Capt. William M. Crose, who was stationed at Mare Island.
Lt. Chester W. Nimitz, Maumee’s first executive officer and chief engineer, had toured Europe in 1913 and studied some of the diesel engines in service, and then personally designed Maumee’s engines. “We…could burn the same bunker fuel-oil that was used by all the oil-burning vessels in the fleet,” he later recalled, “whereas foreign ships comparable to ours used a special grade of fuel oil — a distillate called diesel fuel.”
While preparing for her commissioning, the ship fouled and damaged the 100-ton shear legs on the dock at Mare Island on 25 February 1916. A subsequent investigation laid the blame on George Wheeler Jr., the navy yard’s pilot, but conceded that he was guilty only of an “error in judgment,” finding that he positioned the ship where she stood into danger of hitting the shears only because of his “fear the ship might collide with the navy yard ferry float or the civil ferry slip”. The convening authority concluded that in the future the yard should keep a float or barge handy to help tow ships out of the docks and “avert accidents of this kind.”
Commissioned on 23 October 1916 at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., Lt. Cmdr. Henry C. Dinger in command, Maumee spent the remainder of 1916 working up to join the fleet. She completed a trial run at sea near Provincetown, Mass., “standardizing” her engines and swinging for residuals on the compass (16–17 November). Following minor repairs and modifications to her propulsion plant at the New York Navy Yard (19 November–21 December), she shifted to Tompkinsville, Staten Island, N.Y., whence she stood out for a post-trial run off the Ambrose Channel (22–28 December). She then set course for Cuban waters on 28 December, three days after Christmas.
Maumee assisted Paducah (Gunboat No. 18) in setting buoys in Breton Channel to mark a temporary training area (2–24 January 1917), and sometimes worked with Cuban gunboat Diez de Octubre. Maumee then made three separate runs to Port Arthur, Texas, for cargoes of petroleum products to deliver to the fleet. In the early months of 1917, she discharged her Texas cargo to the fleets at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and Hampton Roads, Va. Smaller ships could anchor alongside Maumee to receive fuel, but she moored or anchored near battleships in order to fuel the behemoths. The ship loaded fuel oil and gasoline at Port Arthur (27–31 January), came about and discharged some of the oil to tanks ashore at Guantánamo Bay (4–8 February), refueled destroyers off that bay (9–10 February), and returned to Port Arthur to obtain additional oil for the fleet (14–15 February). Maumee busily shuttled back and forth supporting the fleet, oiling ships in Cuban waters (19 February–12 March), getting oil at Port Arthur (16–18 March) and fresh water at Pensacola, Fla. (19–22 March), and then turning her straight stem northward and refueling ships off Hampton Roads (26 March–3 April). She discharged cargo and received fuel oil from Oklahoma (Battleship No. 37) at the Norfolk Navy Yard (3–6 April).
The United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Maumee’s first wartime assignment continued to service the fleet as before, and so she left on that day for another trip to Port Arthur to pick up additional fuel oil and gasoline (14–16 April). A new routine soon caught up with her though, as Cmdr. Dinger began putting his men through long and short range battle practice at Tangier Sound, Md. (15–16 May). Maumee then steered northerly courses and took on stores and supplies for destroyers while at St. Johns, Newfoundland (24–26 May). The ship experimented with oiling at sea in company with destroyers of the 5th Division off Boston, Mass. (5–13 and 28–29 June), and steamed to Newport, R.I., where she discharged fuel oil (30 June–3 July). On Independence Day she began undergoing extensive repairs at New York Navy Yard (4 July–7 September), made a brief one day trip to Philadelphia, but returned to New York and completed repairs on her smokestack. At one point during World War I, four 4-inch guns were installed on the ship.
Maumee played an especially significant part in the war effort, for she became one of the ships assigned to develop the Navy’s at-sea refueling methods on destroyers. Dinger, Nimitz, and many of the other officers of the ship’s company had planned for underway refueling for some months by the time the U.S. entered the war, and they poured over blueprints for most of the ships in the service and sketched out how the operation would work — on paper. The country’s entry into the war shifted underway refueling from theory to necessity, for the Allies desperately needed U.S. destroyers to battle German U-boats, and the American vessels lacked the capacity to cross the Atlantic without refilling their tanks.
To refuel some of the destroyers on their way to British waters, Maumee deployed to an area about 300 miles south of Greenland, at roughly the midpoint between Boston and Queenstown [Cobh], Ireland. At 0556 on 28 May 1917, Maumee’s watchstanders logged that they “sighted destroyers 3 points forward of port beam,” as Maumee rendezvoused with Drayton (Destroyer No. 23), Jenkins (Destroyer No. 42), Patterson (Destroyer No. 36), Paulding (Destroyer No. 22), and Trippe (Destroyer No. 33) of Division 5, and became the first U.S. Navy vessel to refuel ships at sea in what she reported as “anything but a flat calm.” Indeed, the waters of the North Atlantic proved far from calm for the green crew, as biting winds whipped at sailors operating on her icy decks, and rough seas jostled the vessel under their feet. Maumee attempted to refuel two ships at once while underway -- one to either side -- but the foul weather often compelled her to position a single ship on the lee side, maneuvering at an average speed of five knots. Patterson slipped alongside Maumee first and during the forenoon watch Maumee pumped enough fuel to Drayton, Jenkins, and Patterson to enable them to complete crossing the Atlantic. Years later, Nimitz recounted the process for getting fuel into a moving ship:
“The leading destroyer came smartly alongside about 50 feet away. She slowed to our speed [about 5 knots], and we sent a messenger line over to her forecastle by a line-throwing gun. The destroyer then hauled a 10-inch manila hawser aboard, passed it through the proper chock abreast her bridge, and secured it to the forward gun mount. When this was done, the Maumee’s forecastle windlass pulled the hawser “towing” taut. At this point, the destroyer slowed her engines to give good steering control so that an open space of about 50 feet could be maintained between the two ships.”
While Maumee refueled the ships she also passed essential supplies, including food and fresh water, by means of wooden “saddles” suspended from the cargo booms. Over time, developments in the techniques, many of them pioneered by Maumee’s Cmdr. Dinger, cut down the time to it took to replenish a single ship. Those destroyers reached Queenstown on 1 June, where they received British signal books and depth charges.
Vice Adm. Albert Gleaves, Commander Cruiser and Transport Force, led the first American Expeditionary Force convoy as the ships sailed in four groups from New York bound for St. Nazaire, France, on 14 June. Group 1 included: Seattle (Armored Cruiser No. 11); Roe (Destroyer No. 24); Terry (Destroyer No. 25); and Wilkes (Destroyer No. 67); armed yacht Corsair (S. P. 159); troop transport DeKalb (Id. No. 3010); and the U.S. Army Transports Havana, Pastores, Saratoga, and Tenadores. Henley (Destroyer No. 39) escorted Kanawha and Maumee as they preceded the convoy to refuel the destroyers at sea as required, and Maumee did so at a high seas station near 37°N, 37°W. Maumee replenished many of the 34 Ireland‑bound destroyers in the mid‑Atlantic by 3 July, but the work took a toll on the ship, and she spent the rest of the summer undergoing repairs at the New York Navy Yard before resuming the grueling pace.
Maumee oiled destroyers escorting a convoy on 30 September 1917, and then put in to St. Nazaire (5–7 October). The ship stood down the channel on 7 October, but while making steam to rendezvous with other ships in rough seas, a Maumee lookout believed that he spotted a submarine on her port bow about 2,500 yards away. Fanning (Destroyer No. 37) plowed through the swells at 16 knots but failed to close the apparent U-boat before the elusive foe slipped below the surface. Fanning gamely dropped three depth charges on the estimated spot of submergence but witnessed no results. Maumee refueled destroyers at Queenstown (9–25 October), and then set out for a return voyage across the Atlantic, completed voyage repairs at Hampton Roads (7–8 November), and then (9–17 November) additional work at New York Navy Yard. The ship discharged fuel at Norfolk (22–23 November) and then (25–26 November) at Boston, but the long hours at sea continued to exact their toll and she accomplished extensive repairs at New York Navy Yard (28 November 1917–10 February 1918).
Early in the New Year (11 February–30 March 1918) the ship set out on a busy series of cruises discharging fuel oil to tanks at: Key West, Fla.; Guantánamo Bay; Charleston, S.C.; Port Arthur; Melville, R.I.; Boston; and Norfolk. Maumee completed repairs to her engines at New York Navy Yard (20–30 April), loaded fuel oil and gasoline at Port Arthur (5–8 May), discharged her precious liquid for battleships in the York River, Va. (14–16 May), and briefly (17–19 May) accomplished upkeep at Hampton Roads. The ship received fuel at Port Arthur (25–27 May), but continued to experience problems and again repaired her engines at New York Navy Yard (3–12 June), but then (13 June–21 September) required extensive repairs and an overhaul at Boston. In August Maumee received approval for renovations to expand the size of her complement to 253, an addition of 150 new crewmen. A month later, however, the Navy expressed misgivings concerning the extent of the renovations that might be required, fearing that the time it would take to change out bulkheads or expand the deck would be prohibitive. After receiving assurances from the Boston Navy Yard that the expansion could be done with relative ease, the board certified its approval once again, and completed the project.
Following the yard work, Maumee took on fuel oil at Point Breeze, Pa. (23–24 September 1918) and then (24–25 September) stores at Philadelphia, and by the end of the month was on her way to Europe with a convoy, refueling the escorting destroyers along the way. She put in to St. Nazaire and Queenstown, and then (14–31 October) delivered fuel oil at Brest, France. While Maumee lay anchored in that harbor at about 2:15 p.m. on 23 October, however, the French patrol boat La Suippe, a 604 ton flush-decked turbine driven sloop, fouled the fuel ship while maneuvering along her starboard side to replenish. La Suippe struck Maumee between frames 140 and 144, breaking off part of her life rails and stanchions, and severely bending an upright support for sea-plane stowage. The ship’s hull escaped damage, but she remained in port for repairs, and left on Halloween for the United States, returning to Hampton Roads on 7 November. Four days later, on 11 November, the Armistice stilled the guns of the World War.
Mechanical difficulties continued to plague the vessel, and many of her crewmen had been transferred for service elsewhere, leaving her with fewer men experienced with her diesel engines. Maumee underwent extensive repairs, including installing a new boiler, at New York Navy Yard (14 November 1918–31 January 1919). With hostilities having ended, the repairs consequently proceeded at a leisurely pace, and on 15 November the ship reported that she awaited the new boiler “not being immediately needed for service.”
Maumee left the yard and prepared for another transatlantic cruise. The ship discharged oil at the Boston Navy Yard (3–5 February 1919), and then (6–9 February) took on oil at Bayonne, N.J. She set out across the Atlantic and spent two days oiling destroyers and French bark Quevility at Punta Delgada in the Azores (19–21 February), during which time Maumee fouled the anchor of the submarine tender Savannah (19 February), neither ship reporting damage or casualties. She then refueled destroyers at Brest (26 February–6 March), after which she set course for home.
Maumee loaded oil at Bayonne (19–26 March 1919), and made another trip to Guantánamo to replenish the fuel bunkers of the ships of the U.S. fleet in those waters, (1–5 April), work followed immediately by a voyage to Port Arthur to load (10–12 April). The fuel ship then (18 April–2 May) returned to Norfolk and prepared to oil destroyers supporting the Navy’s attempt to be the first to fly planes across the Atlantic. Dozens of vessels including battleships and destroyers deployed at intervals of about 75 miles along the aerial route to take meteorological observations, report weather conditions, light searchlights at night to guide the planes, and to communicate with the aircraft by radio or light during interference by haze, fog, or rain. Maumee set out to maintain some of the destroyers at sea, and then (9–17 May) refueled a number of them.
Planners prepared four Naval Aircraft Factory and Curtiss NC flying boats of Seaplane Division 1, Cmdr. John H. Towers in command, to assay the perilous crossing, but sailors removed the wings from NC-2 (BuNo. A-2292) and installed them onto NC-1 (BuNo. A-2291) to repair storm damage to the plane. Consequently, Towers commanded the three remaining flying boats: NC-1, manned by Lt. Cmdr. Patrick N. L. Bellinger, Lt. Cmdr. Marc A. Mitscher, Lt. Louis T. Barin, USNRF, Lt. Harry Sadenwater, USNRF, MMC C.T. Kesler, and Machinist Rasmus Christensen; NC-3 (BuNo. A-2293), Towers, Cmdr. Holden C. Richardson, CC, Lt. Robert A. Lavender, Lt. David H. McCulloch, USNRF, and Boatswain Lloyd R. Moore; and NC-4 (BuNo. A-2294), Lt. Cmdr. Albert C. Read, Lt. James L. Breese, Lt. Elmer F. Stone, USCG, Lt. (j.g.) Walter K. Hinton, Ens. Herbert C. Rodd, and MMC Eugene S. Rhoads. Chief Rhoads replaced MMC Edward H. Howard just before the flight when NC-4’s spinning propeller sliced off the engineer’s left hand, although Howard later resolutely returned to duty.
Towers led NC-1, NC-3, and NC-4 from Naval Air Station (NAS) Rockaway, N.Y., to Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the first leg of the transatlantic flight during the forenoon watch on 8 May 1919. The division hoped to fly 1,150 miles to Trepassey Bay in Newfoundland in two stages, rather than ship the planes in order to gain experience before attempting the crossing. NC-1 and NC-3 arrived at Halifax before dark but NC-4 developed trouble in her oil feed off the Massachusetts coast that compelled a descent to the water and taxi overnight to NAS Chatham, Mass. Following two days at Halifax, NC-1 and NC-3 continued on to Trepassey Bay. NC-4 completed repairs at Chatham and made for Halifax, from whence she left the following day for Trepassey Bay.
Maumee continued to refuel ships on station, and at 5:01 p.m. on 14 May 1919, stopped discharging fuel oil to Meredith (Destroyer No. 165) when the destroyer turned sharply to port and parted the oil hose. Meredith’s helmsman attempted to keep the ship rolling alongside Maumee but at 5:28 p.m. the destroyer sheered to port and parted the fuel ship’s forward spring line. Meredith drifted astern and carried away Maumee’s 6-inch stern line seven minutes later, and while so drifting slammed against Maumee’s port side and ran foul with her propeller guard. The collision dented the fuel ship’s amidship plating but not seriously, and she resumed oiling the destroyer. During the second dog watch, however, both engines stopped and her logkeeper ominously recorded that “ship not under control.” The engineering sailors laboriously repaired and restarted the starboard engine at 10:05 p.m., and the ship subsequently continued her operations.
In addition to the flying boats’ mechanical issues, meanwhile, reports of storms roaring across the Atlantic weighed on Towers and persuaded him to delay the flight. Maumee played a key role in his decision to continue, however, in that the ships deployed along the route to the Azores burned through their fuel at a disconcerting rate, and if Towers had waited much longer, they would have needed additional refueling. A few minutes after 6:00 p.m. on 16 May 1919 therefore, the three big flying boats took off from Trepassey Bay for the aerial voyage to the Azores, with NC-3 in the van. Radioman Rodd intercepted a radio message from steamship George Washington 1,325 miles distant, at 1:22 a.m. on 17 May. At another point a radio station at Bar Harbor, Maine, intercepted a message from one of the planes from about 1,400 miles away. During the morning watch dense fog blinded the flying boats and separated the division but NC-4 resolutely ascended above the fog. Following more than 15 hours in the air NC-4 descended to Horta in the Azores at 1:23 p.m. on 17 May.
The other boats lost their bearings in the fog, however, and landed at sea to determine their positions, sustaining damage that rendered them unable to resume the flight. Bellinger descended to the water at a point 45 miles on the other side of Flores but heavy seas disabled the plane. NC-1, after five hours in the water, was taken in tow by the Greek steamer Ionia but the lines parted. Gridley (Destroyer No. 92) then attempted to take NC-1 in tow but the sea pushed the aircraft adrift and NC-1 broke up and sank. The crew clambered on board Ionia and reached Horta at 12:30 p.m. the following day. Towers landed at a point around 35 miles from the island of Fayal. The flying boat encountered heavy seas that rose overnight until a gale the next morning carried away NC-3’s port pontoon. The men weighed down the starboard wing tip with their bodies to keep the port wing clear of the water. The plane drifted backward toward the Azores and arrived at Ponta Delgada at 4:50 p.m. on 19 May.
Harsh weather delayed NC-4 until she flew to Ponta Delgada the following day, where the craft remained for nearly a week, undergoing repairs and awaiting more favorable weather. The heavy seas pounded Maumee as well, and the ship limped into Horta to make emergency repairs to her main engines (20–28 May). Early on the morning of 26 May 1919, Read and NC-4 departed for the 891-mile flight to Lisbon, Portugal, encountering two heavy rain squalls en route but completing the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by air when the plane landed at 8:01 p.m. on 27 May to the accompaniment of cheering thousands, ringing church bells, ships blowing their whistles. NC-4 became the only one of the three NC flying boats to reach the Azores by air. Read lifted off on the last legs of the flight on 31 May. The flying boat dodged several small squalls and encountered rain but developed a leak in the port engine that forced the plane to put down for repairs in the Mondego River near Figueira da Foz [Figuera], Portugal. NC-4 got underway with the high tide and arrived overnight at Ferrol, Spain. NC-4 flew across the Bay of Biscay, circled over Brest, and despite thick weather arrived at Plymouth, England, at 1:26 p.m. on 31 May. Planners symbolically chose Plymouth as the terminal point of the flight because of the Pilgrims’ departure for America from that port. During the following week, men of the flight met world leaders including the Prince of Wales Edward VIII and members of the British cabinet in London, and President Woodrow Wilson and the British, French, and Italian Prime Ministers David Lloyd George, Georges B. Clemenceau, and Vittorio E. Orlando, respectively, at the peace conference at Versailles, France.
Once Maumee completed her mission of aiding the historic seaplane flight, she immediately set course for home for full repairs to her engines, which resulted in a lengthy stay at the New York Navy Yard (9 June 1919–18 March 1920). After post-overhaul sea trials off Ambrose Light Vessel, during which the newly-renovated ship stopped to calibrate her radio compass, she launched on a whirlwind five months, which saw her almost continually in motion either refueling far-flung fleets or putting in at fuel depots all along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. After obtaining bunker fuel at New York Navy Yard (19–30 March), she shaped a course for Caribbean waters, first loading up on fuel oil and gasoline at Port Arthur (8–13 April), and refueled the fleet and discharged oil to Naval Station Guantánamo Bay (18–28 April). On 1 May she provided fuel to ships off Key West, before steaming back across the Gulf of Mexico for another supply run to Port Arthur (4–8 May).
Maumee oiled destroyers and Mine Force repair ship Black Hawk, which usually served as a flagship and tender for the Atlantic Fleet destroyers in reserve at Philadelphia, while at Vera Cruz, Mexico (11–21 May 1920). Maumee then made another run and performed the same service at Key West (5–8 June), moved on to load fuel at Port Arthur (11–14 June), and from there made her way up the east coast to Melville, where she discharged her Texas cargo to the fleet (21–22 June). After a brief (24 June–9 July) stop in New York to await orders, she departed for the Mississippi River on 13 July. The ship lay to off New Orleans, La., to change a pilot and secure charts of the river (15–16 July), and steamed up river and loaded fuel oil at Baton Rouge, La. (16–24 July). In the meanwhile on 17 July 1920, the ship was reclassified to an oiler (AO-2).
After resupplying at Baton Rouge -- and embarking a draft of men to be transferred northward -- Maumee took her payload back to New England waters to refuel the ships of the fleet off Melville (30–31 July 1920) and then (1–5 August) unloaded the balance of her fuel at Boston. The ship completed urgent repairs at New York Navy Yard (6 August–10 November), pumped fuel on board at Bayonne, (10–11 November), and then (11–13 November) shifted to Tompkinsville and received miscellaneous stores for the Charleston Navy Yard, which she discharged there on 18 November. Maumee remained at Charleston as a fuel oil supply depot for destroyers based at that port until she sailed (6–11 June 1921) once again for repairs at New York Navy Yard. The ship remained afterward observing weather conditions for the next year, and was decommissioned on 9 June 1922, placed in reserve at Philadelphia Navy Yard.
The Great Depression impacted the Navy’s preparation for war and on 28 December 1937, a Report of Material Inspection recommended that Maumee be “placed on [the] list of Naval vessels to be disposed of by sale.” Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison approved those findings on 25 April 1940, and directed Rear Adm. Adolphus E. Watson, Commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, to comply with Article 1897(3) of the Naval Regulations of 1920.
Against a backdrop of worsening international relations in Europe and Asia a little over a year later, however, on 17 May 1941, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox approved refitting and recommissioning Maumee. The ship consequently completed a major refit at Maryland Dry Dock, Baltimore, Md., and was commissioned “in ordinary” on 14 October 1941. In addition to the standard upgrades and repairs, Maumee also received a new battery of one 5-inch and four 3-inch dual-purpose guns, and conventional, and more dependable, steam power, in place of her breakdown-prone diesels. Less than two months after Maumee had been activated, the U.S. entered the war in the wake of the Japanese attack on the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.
Maumee, commissioned on 2 June 1942, Cmdr. Rupert M. Zimmerli in command, first served as a training ship off the North Carolina capes. In addition to daily drills in all aspects of shipboard life, the ship made runs to the fuel oil depot at Naval Operating Base (NOB) Bermuda. Maumee steamed from Norfolk to NOB Bermuda (24–26 July), operated from Base Mike and Base Hypo, returned to Norfolk in August, and then sailed back to NOB Bermuda later that month.
Maumee set out on her first transatlantic crossing since World War I on 6 November 1942. Two days later, Allied troops landed in Morocco and Algeria in Operation Torch. The Vichy French initially opposed the landings but then joined the Allies, and ships continued to support the Allied drive across North Africa into Tunisia. Maumee steamed in company with ships of Task Force (TF) 39 including: light cruiser Memphis (CL-13); two salvage ships; eight submarine chasers; eight patrol craft; and nine auxiliary motor minesweepers. Maumee stopped off briefly in Bermuda, where she delivered fuel to ships undergoing their shakedown training, before resuming her voyage, and moored at the Traverse Jetty at Casablanca, Morocco, on 25 November. Maumee refueled primarily small craft involved in the fighting in North Africa and the Mediterranean, and then joined convoy GUS-2 for the return trip to Norfolk (22 December 1942–9 January 1943). The veteran oiler often refueled other vessels while crossing the Atlantic in these convoys, and did so 68 times through the end of the year.
The oiler stood out of Norfolk and transited the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal to New York (9–11 February 1943). Maumee set out with convoy NG-343 for San Nicholas, Aruba (12–22 February), took on fuel, and then returned in convoy TAG-44 to New York (25 February–7 March). Maumee meanwhile went back to NOB Norfolk (10–12 March), and then (19–22 March) set out for Bermuda with ships of TF 60 as part of Task Group (TG) 60.2: minesweeper Skill (AM-115); five submarine chasers; four auxiliary motor minesweepers; and 27 infantry landing craft (LCIs). Maumee and many of the other vessels of the task force joined convoy UGS-6A and crossed the Atlantic from Bermuda to Gibraltar, and she anchored off Casablanca (27 March–11 April). The oiler swung about immediately and returned with ships of TF 63 in convoy GUS-6 to Norfolk (12–28 April). The busy cycle continued and Maumee turned her prow northward to New York on 26 May, moored at one of the metropolis’ piers on Hudson River the next day, and shaped easterly courses with TF 69 in convoy UGS-9, and tied up at the Transverse Jetty at Casablanca (28 May–15 June). The ship got underway again for the voyage back home with convoy GUS-8A on 22 June. Maumee anchored at Bermuda on 8 July, where she detached from the convoy and practiced refueling underway exercises, and then returned to Portsmouth, Va. (9–12 July).
Maumee spent part of the summer training, performing upkeep, and taking on fuel, and steamed to New York on 19 August 1943. The following day she set out with convoy NG-381 to carry oil from the Netherlands West Indies to east coast Navy bases, and anchored in the Gulf of Paria at Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 2 September. The following day, Maumee resumed her voyage and arrived at the mouth of the Río San Juan [river] in Venezuela on 4 September. On the afternoon of 1 October the ship departed for Trinidad, which she reached the next day, operated mostly from Trinidad into November, and on the afternoon of 1 December shifted from the oil dock at Point a Pierre at Trinidad to the A-1 Anchorage Area at the NOB there. Maumee set out with convoy TAG-106 from Trinidad and returned to Guantánamo Bay in time for the New Year (30 December 1943–4 January 1944).
The oiler continued her operations between Caribbean and Atlantic waters, and steamed with convoy GAT-110 from Guantánamo Bay to Aruba (9–13 January 1944), back with TAG-109 to Guantánamo Bay on 19 January, with GAT-113 to Aruba and then Curacao (23–27 January), and then turned her prow northward in company with TAG-112 and moored at NOB Norfolk on 9 February. Maumee refueled ships at sea (5–9 March), and then (11–12 March) sailed to Tompkinsville in preparation for another trans-Atlantic convoy voyage. The ship joined TF 67 for the convoy to Falmouth, England (25 March–19 April), and on 23 April continued her circuit of British waters, at one point hauling railroad barges, and moved to Milford Haven, Wales. Maumee anchored off Belfast, Northern Ireland (26–28 April), and returned to NOB Norfolk on 11 May, then entered dry dock at the Norfolk Navy Yard (30 May–5 June).
On 15 June 1944, Maumee sailed with NK-620, then anchored off Key West (20–21 June), took on oil while moored at Deer Park, Texas (24–25 June), and ultimately anchored at Bermuda over Independence Day (2–6 July). She returned to NOB Norfolk (8–14 July) before rendezvousing with convoy UGS-48 for North African waters, where she put in to Bizerte, Tunisia (1–9 August). The ship stood out of that port in a convoy with TF 62, and while steaming with those vessels on 20 August, Moffett (DD-362) lowered a small boat that came alongside and transferred a patient from cargo ship Cartago, registered with the U.S. Mail Steamship Company and serving with the War Shipping Administration, for an emergency appendectomy operation. Moffett’s medical officer accompanied the patient, and the operation proved successful, and the man was transferred back to the destroyer via a boatswain’s chair two days later. Maumee returned to Tompkinsville on 27 August, but her crew only briefly enjoyed seeing Staten Island and New York City, for the ship departed again for another run to British waters, this time with TG 27.5 and a convoy of small Army tugs and craft (19 September–18 October). The ship put in at Falmouth and on 21 October at Plymouth, before making her usual stops in Wales and Northern Ireland. A distinct change of climate followed; after returning to Norfolk with TG 27.5 (1–22 November), she received orders directing her to the Caribbean. Beginning on 9 December 1944, Maumee made five trips to Guantánamo Bay and Aruba before finishing the year at that island, setting out on 2 January 1945, two days later visiting Kingston, Jamaica, and then charting northerly courses for home, mooring at Norfolk on 11 January.
The ship moored at Yorktown, Va., where she loaded aviation gasoline (10–17 January 1945), took on diesel fuel at Galveston, Texas (23–24 January), and promptly returned to Tompkinsville on 30 January. On the 1st of the month Maumee stood out for Houston, Texas, where she loaded fuel, then came about for Bermuda, where she loaded cargo for escort ships, and then unloaded that cargo at Guantánamo Bay, before continuing on to Aruba. Maumee returned and replenished her fuel supplies at Craney Island, Va. (19–20 February). The ship completed voyage repairs in dry dock at Norfolk Navy Yard during the entire month of March.
After a brief passage (7–9 April 1945) Maumee reached New York, then immediately crossed Long Island Sound and passed up the Cape Cod Canal (9–10 April) and entered Boston Navy Yard. The ship then (11–15 April) headed toward Canadian waters and moored at NOB Argentia, Newfoundland (15–18 April), and then (18–22 April) returned to New York. Maumee spent additional time in northern waters and on 26 April set out for Casco Bay, Maine (28–29 April) and again (1–12 May), both times returning to New York. The seasoned ship shaped a course for warmer waters when she visited Corpus Christi, Texas (15–22 May) and then Key West, arrived back at Bayonne on the last day of the month, and then shifted to NOB Norfolk.
While the war in Europe ended in the spring of 1945, the Japanese continued fighting, and on 28 May 1945 Maumee therefore received orders to serve as a “harbor fueling ship” and to provide quarters and offices for Service Squadron 10 in the Pacific Fleet. She set out from Norfolk on 20 June, on 27 June moored at Cristóbal at the Panama Canal, transited the isthmian waterway the following day, and continued her voyage from Balboa, arriving at Pearl Harbor, T.H., on 15 July. On that date, Maumee was reclassified to a miscellaneous auxiliary (AG‑124), because of limited repair facilities on board and oil storage capacity.
Maumee received orders to steam to Chinese waters and service the U.S. ships operating there, and she cleared Pearl on 16 August 1945, soon after Japan had accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and agreed to surrender. The Far East-bound auxiliary paused at Ulithi (1–3 September), and continued on to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, in the Ryūkyūs, where she dropped anchor on 9 September. The ship shifted her anchorage to Hagushi on 11 September, but emergency sortied to escape a typhoon (16–18 September).
In the wake of the formal Japanese surrender (2 September 1945), Maumee’s role in the postwar fleet came under consideration, and on 21 September, the office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OpNav) recommended her disposal. Before that eventuality would come to pass, however, there was still work to be done. Maumee rendezvoused with Task Unit (TU) 70.2.3 and resumed her China-bound voyage and anchored off the Yangtze River on 30 September. Three days later, Maumee ascended the Whangpoo [Huangpu] River to Shanghai, where the oiler served as station fuel ship until she was reassigned to the Atlantic Fleet and returned to Pearl Harbor (16 November–8 December 1945).
Maumee entered the New Year (12–16 February 1946) by carrying a cargo of oil southward to Guantánamo Bay, where she reported to TG 23.9, a shakedown group composed of former U.S. Navy vessels originally slated for the British under Lend Lease, then provided to the Nationalist Chinese: escort vessels Tai Kang (F.21) [ex-Wyffels (DE-6)], and Tai Ping (F.22) [ex-Decker (DE-47)]; minesweepers Yung Ning (AM.46) [ex-Magnet (AM-260)]; Yung Sheng (AM.43) [ex-Lance (AM-257)], Yung Shun (AM.44) [ex-Logic (AM-258)], and Yung Tung (AM.45) [ex-Lucid (AM-259)]; and patrol escorts Yung Hsing (ex-PCE-869) and Yung Tai (ex-PCE-867). Maumee spent the next two months rendering repair, tender, and fuel services to the group in Cuban waters, and then was assigned to accompany them to China. The convoy proceeded from Guantánamo Bay to Havana, Cuba (8–11 April 1946), then resumed the voyage to the Panama Canal. The ships moored at Cristóbal on 19 April, and then (20–21 April) passed through the isthmian waterway.
Departing from Balboa as the newly redesignated TG 10.2 on 24 April 1946, they visited Acapulco, Mexico (1–7 May), and dropped anchor at San Diego, Calif., on 13 May. Maumee and her consorts weighed anchor and set out across the Pacific on 31 May, and on 9 June moored at Pearl Harbor, then cleared Pearl on 24 June for the next leg of the voyage. Soon thereafter, OpNav approved Maumee’s transfer to the Nationalist Chinese under Lend Lease on 27 June 1946.
The ships stopped briefly at Midway Island (29–30 June 1946), reached Yokosuka, Japan, on 10 July, and four days later sailed for Tsingtao [Qingdao], China, where Maumee anchored on 19 July. Sailing on 15 October, Maumee arrived off Shanghai the next day but after three days there, set course to return to Tsingtao on 21 October.
Maumee ended her service to the U.S. Navy when she was decommissioned off Tsingtao on 5 November 1946. Transferred to the Chinese Government on the same day, she was commissioned as Omei (AO.509). Political ramifications impacted the arrangement, however, and Public Law 1 of the 78th Congress stipulated her return to the United States, only to have Public Law 512 of the 79th Congress authorize her return. The ship was thus granted to the Nationalists on 7 February 1948, and Maumee was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 12 March 1948.
Omei remained in continuous service with the Nationalist Chinese Navy until she was decommissioned at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in the summer of 1967. The ship that had been among the pioneers of refueling at sea in the U.S. Navy was ultimately (August–October 1967) scrapped at Kaohsiung, far from the land of her birth.
|Commanding Officers||Date Assumed Command|
|Lt. Cmdr. Henry C. Dinger||23 October 1916|
|Lt. Cmdr. William V. Tomb||20 July 1917|
|Lt. Cmdr. Charles J. Anderson||19 November 1917|
|Lt. Cmdr. Mark C. Bowman||19 December 1918|
|Temporary Reserve (no commanding officer)||26 August 1919|
|Lt. Cmdr. Mark C. Bowman||29 August 1919|
|Lt. Cmdr. Arthur C. Rice||23 September 1919|
|Cmdr. Charles W. Densmore||20 December 1919|
|Cmdr. John T. Bowers||15 September 1921|
|Cmdr. Rupert M. Zimmerli||2 June 1942|
|Cmdr. Cornelius M. Sullivan||24 January 1943|
|Lt. Cmdr. Charles A. Dodge||21 July 1943|
|Lt. Cmdr. Hollis C. Ballard||31 July 1943|
|Lt. Cmdr. Charles A. Dodge||2 August 1943|
|Lt. Cmdr. Hollis C. Ballard||5 June 1944|
|Lt. Cmdr. Frank P. Ferrell||5 June 1945|
|Lt. Cmdr. Jean S. Brower||14 June 1945|
|Lt. John T. Dodson||29 July 1946|
|Lt. John D. Scarborough||25 September 1946|
|Lt. Cmdr. Howard G. Dean||11 October 1946|
Thomas Sheppard and Mark L. Evans
16 May 2017