(AO-108: dp. 25,440; l. 553'; b. 751; dr. 32'4"; s. 18.3 k.; cpl. 304; a. 1 5", 4 3", 8 40mm.; cl. Mispillion; T. T3-S2-A3)
A river in Rhode Island.
Pawcatuck (AO-108) was laid down 22 March 1945 by Sun SB & DD Co., Chester, Pa., as MC hull 2704; launched 19 February 1946; sponsored by Miss Nancy Gatch; and commissioned 10 May 1946, Capt. Cecil G. McKinney, USNR, in command.
After shakedown she was assigned the task of transporting petroleum products between various Naval facilities and ports on the Gulf Coast, in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic Coast. In the summer of 1947, she joined the U.S. 6th Fleet operating in the Mediterranean for her first overseas tour. From 1948 into 1961, Pawcatuck operated on a rotational schedule between the Atlantic Fleet and the Mediterranean 6th Fleet, participating in U.S. Fleet and NATO exercises, Reserve and Midshipman cruises, courtesy visits to foreign ports and serving as flagship of Commander Service Squadron 2. She supported American forces during the Lebanon crisis of 1958.
In November 1961 she sailed for her first North Atlantic deployment and operated with ASW carrier task group 83.3 until February 1962. In November 1962 she was deployed to the Caribbean for support to U.S. Naval units involved in the Cuban Crisis blockade effort. Early 1963 was spent in Boston for overhaul and by June she had returned to the Mediterranean and 6th Fleet operations.
During 1964 Pawcatuck operated with the Atlantic Fleet performing logistic services and conducting training exercises. In January 1965 she sailed to the Caribbean, made port calls, provided support and training services and returned to Norfolk for most of March and April. In late April she was ordered south to the vicinity of the Dominican Republic to support Navy units during the crisis in that area. On 12 June she sailed for Northern European waters and, with other units, engaged in joint amphibious exercises with the Armed Forces of Norway. Upon returning to the U.S. 23 July, she prepared to enter the yards for an extensive "Jumboization" conversion, with preliminary work conducted at Boston. She then sailed the St. Lawrence River and put into the yards of the American SB Co., Lorain, Ohio, on 14 September. All of 1966 was spent undergoing conversion, with the result of Pawcatuck's overall length being increased to 644'; draft increased to 35'9"; and her displacement increased to 35,000 tons.
After outfitting at Boston, Pawcatuck sailed on 23 February 1967 to Craney Island, Va. where she received her first jumbo load of 2,500,000 gallons of aviation fuel and 5,400,000 gallons of black oil for surface vessels. This operation took five days and she then sailed to her homeport at Mayport, Fla. to resume operations as a fleet oiler.
On 29 January 1968 Pawcatuck deployed to the Mediterranean and serviced over 300 ships of the U.S. 6th Fleet and NATO allies while participating in exercises "Fairgame IV," "Dawn Patrol," "Flapex" and many smaller fleet exercises. She returned to Mayport on 6 August and spent the latter part of the year servicing units of the Apollo 7 recovery force.
During January and February 1969 Pawcatuck made preparations for another Mediterranean deployment.