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Salinas (AO-19)

1921-1946 

A river in California. 

(AO-19: displacement 16,800; 1ength 477'10"; beam 60'; draft 26'2" (mean); speed 10.5 knots; complement 87; class Patoka)

Hudsonian was laid down for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) on 10 April 1919 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.; launched on 5 May 1920; accepted by the USSB on 13 May 1920; transferred to the Navy on 29 October 1921; renamed Salinas and designated AO-19 on 3 November 1921; and commissioned at Mobile, Ala., on 16 December 1921, Lt. Cmdr. H. S. Chase, USNRF, in command.

Assigned to the Naval Transportation Service, Salinas was initially in commission for only a little over six months, being decommissioned at Norfolk on 20 June 1922, where she remained in reserve until recommissioned there on 12 June 1926, Cmdr. Stephen Doherty in command.

The following September, she commenced carrying fuel from naval fuel depots and Caribbean and Texas oil ports to Navy bases and stations on the east and west coasts, in the Caribbean, in the Panama Canal Zone, and, in the late 1920's, to Marine Corps units in Nicaragua. Periodically interrupted for overhauls and fleet exercises; and, in 1938, for a transatlantic run to Britain, she maintained a continuous operating schedule in those areas until late in the 1930's.

Then, with tension increasing in Europe, she confined her operations to runs between Gulf Coast and Caribbean oil ports and bases in Cuba and on the east coast. In September 1939, World War II broke out in Europe. Hostilities soon spread across the ocean. The United States commenced neutrality patrols and escort services in the western Atlantic, and Salinas, now armed, shifted her runs further north, and then east, to include bases in Canada and Iceland.

During August 1941, Salinas served as station oiler at Argentia, Newfoundland. In September, she joined a convoy for Iceland. She arrived at Reykjavik early in October; and, on the 23rd, departed that port, in ballast, for the mid-ocean meeting point (MOMP) where she rendezvoused with convoy ON-28 on the 25th. From there, the tanker moved west to return to the United States. At 0700 (GCT) on the 30th, her position was 46°56'N, 37°46'W. Visibility was about 1,000 yards. Twelve minutes later, Salinas took a torpedo, port side, at her number 9 tank. A second torpedo followed, hitting port side at tanks 2 and 3. Salinas settled to near her loaded waterline and remained there.

At 0730, a submarine was sighted on the surface, close aboard on the starboard quarter. The U-boat fired three torpedoes, all misses -- two ahead, one astern of the damaged oiler -- then submerged. Salinas's stern gun opened fire on the disappearing U-boat, possibly hitting it. DuPont (DD-152) then moved in and dropped a string of depth charges on the submarine's estimated position.

Salinas's crew, having suffered no serious injuries, began to clear the wreckage. DuPont and Lea (DD-118) stood by. At 1150, the oiler's engineering department signaled "ready to proceed;" and, at 1155, Salinas continued westward with Lea as escort. On the 31st, USCGC Campbell rendezvoused with the damaged oiler and her escort. On 2 November, Cherokee (ATF-66) joined them; but her services as a tug were not needed; and, on the evening of the 3d, Salinas reached St. John's Bay.

From Newfoundland, Salinas moved south, to Brooklyn, N.Y., for repairs. Yard work was completed at midnight on 1 April 1942. On the 2nd, she left the repair yard; and, on the 5th, she departed New York for Chesapeake Bay. On the 10th, she arrived at Norfolk to take on cargo fuel and miscellaneous cargo; and, on the 17th, she sailed north again. Routed first to Halifax, she joined convoy SC-81 there on the 22rd; and, on the 23rd, continued on to Reykjavik, arriving on 8 May. For the next 19 days, she fueled Allied ships in Icelandic anchorages. On the 27th, she moved west; and, on 12 June, she arrived at Boston. By July, she returned to her role as station oiler at Argentia. On 1 August, she put into Sydney, Nova Scotia, to take on more cargo; and, on the 5th, she headed for Greenland where she supplied fueling services to units based at Kungnat Bay, Sondrestrom-fjord, and Tunugdliarfikfjord. On 24 September, she returned to Nova Scotia, whence she continued on to New York.

Through 1943, Salinas continued to move petroleum products to bases in the Atlantic provinces and in Greenland. On 9 January 1944, she completed her last run from St. John's to New York, and, on the 12th, headed for the Caribbean. Into March, she shuttled fuel from the Netherlands West Indies to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; then moved south to the Panama Canal. She transited the isthmian waterway on 19 March; arrived at San Pedro, Calif., on 2 April; and sailed for Alaska two days later.

Salinas arrived at Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, on 17 April 1944. Routed on, she anchored in Massacre Bay, Attu, on the 21st and discharged her first cargo in the Aleutians. On that run, she also delivered fuel to Kuluk Bay and Dutch Harbor. Then, in May, she headed for Seattle, whence she shuttled gasoline, oil, diesel fuel, and cargo to the Aleutians until after the end of World War II.

Salinas, ordered inactivated, departed Dutch Harbor for the last time in mid-October 1945. A week later, she arrived at San Francisco where she was decommissioned on 16 January 1946. Stricken from the Navy Register on 26 February 1946, the ship was turned over to the Maritime Commission, entering the Reserve Fleet berthing area at Suisun Bay, Calif., at midnight on 30 June 1946.

Although Salinas had been earmarked on 24 March 1947 to be scrapped, the recommendation had been made on 6 October 1947 in the Maritime Commission that it "approve ... the sale of this vessel to the highest bidder for scrapping." Salinas was sold -- "for operation" -- to the Hillcone Steamship Co. on 27 October 1947, and she was withdrawn from the Reserve Fleet at 12:30 p.m. on 14 November 1947 and delivered to her purchaser that day.

Ultimately, the ship that had survived an encounter with a U-boat in 1941 was sold to Liberian interests in January 1955.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

27 October 2016 

Published: Thu Oct 27 21:08:49 EDT 2016