USS WACCAMAW (AO-109)
(AO-109) was laid
down on 28 April 1945
by the Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Chester, Pa.; launched on 30 March 1946;
sponsored by Miss Irene
F. Long; and commissioned on 25 June 1946, Capt. Guy W. Stringer in command.
completing shakedown and training at Norfolk and Guantanamo, Waccamaw spent her first two years engaged in transporting oil
from the Persian Gulf
to the United States. In September 1948, she was assigned to duty with the 6th Fleet in the
Mediterranean and, in the spring of 1949, was transferred to the 2d Fleet for exercises in the
Caribbean. A second tour
of the Mediterranean followed in the early part of 1950 and a third in 1951,
the latter extending to nine months.
shipyard overhaul at Boston, Mass., in 1952, Waccamaw participated in
the development of the Thompson-Arwood method of fueling destroyers at sea in heavy weather. In 1953, the
ship made her first midshipman
cruise, which included a visit to Edinburgh, Scotland. During the summer of
1954, Waccamaw was again in the Mediterranean for her fourth tour with the 6th Fleet. This was followed
by logistic services in
the western Atlantic and Caribbean. On a second midshipman cruise in 1955, she visited Copenhagen
and Edinburgh. In
the fall of 1955, the ship entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for overhaul and proceeded to the Caribbean for
training the following spring. A third midshipman cruise was made in June and July of 1956, the visit this
time being to Halifax, Nova Scotia. At the end of July, the ship departed for a fifth assignment to the 6th
Fleet. This tour was extended
until January 1957 because of the Suez crisis. During this period, Waccamaw provided
logistic support to
the ships engaged in the evacuation of Haifa, Israel; and Alexandria, Egypt.
returning from the Mediterranean, Waccamaw operated in the Caribbean for
two months, participated in the International Naval Review at Norfolk, Va., on 12 and 13 June 1957, and then
departed on her fourth midshipman cruise which took her to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Aruba, Dutch West
September and October 1957, Waccamaw, as a member of the underway replenishment group, supported the international fleet
participating in the NATO
fall exercises. These exercises were designed to test the ability of the navies of the Atlantic
cooperate in mutual defense. In the course of these operations, Waccamaw played a novel role
in the rapidly
developing character of the Fleet; she was the last oiler to fuel Wisconsin (BB-64), the last
of the battleships,
and the first to fuel the new super carriers, Forrestal (CVA-59) and Saratoga (CVA-60).
winter of 1957 and 1958, Waccamaw underwent a much-needed overhaul at Boston, followed
by training at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. During the spring of 1958, she provided logistic support to antisubmarine groups in the western Atlantic. Refitted and
retrained, Waccamaw joined the 6th Fleet for a Mediterranean deployment,
during which she participated in the operations
connected with the United States landing in Lebanon. Waccamaw returned
to Newport, R.I., her home port, in
brief rest in December 1958, Waccamaw returned to her assigned mission by fueling
Destroyer Flotilla 2
in January 1959 and then proceeded south to the Virgin Islands where she remained until the end of March.
April 1959, Waccamaw departed for another Mediterranean tour. This seventh tour, however, was shorter than those previous, and she returned to
Newport in June. Upon her return, the
ship continued her familiar role of logistic support to the antisubmarine
forces in the western Atlantic. This continued until November when she began a period of overhaul at
the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, New
York. Due to a labor-management dispute in January 1960, Waccamaw was
moved by tugs to the New York Shipyard at
Brooklyn, N.Y., to complete her
overhaul in April.
completing refresher training at Guantanamo Bay, the ship returned to Newport, R.I., and embarked 18 midshipmen from several
eastern colleges for a cruise in Atlantic waters. After an eight-day tender availability at Newport, R.I., Waccamaw
departed for an eighth tour with the
6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. During this
deployment, Waccamaw was the first naval ship to visit the newly independent country of Cyprus. On 25 February 1961, she returned to Newport for a
leave and upkeep period.
spring months of 1961 were spent supporting the 2d Fleet and conducting a sixth midshipman cruise. During August, Waccamaw underwent
a much-needed tender
availability, and a one-day dependents' cruise was fitted into her busy September schedule. In
October, Waccamaw supported the newly created antisubmarine warfare group operating in the eastern Atlantic.
She arrived back in the United States
just in time for Christmas after an
11,800-mile cruise. Waccamaw then commenced preparations for overhaul at
the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in Hoboken, New Jersey. Completing overhaul in April 1962, the ship sailed for
refresher training at Guantanamo Bay.
1962, Waccamaw again resumed support of the 2d Fleet; and, in August, she set sail for the
Mediterranean on her
ninth tour with the 6th Fleet. On the way, Waccamaw participated in Operation "Riptide," working in support of such ships as the
nuclear carrier Enterprise (CVA(N)-65).
The ship spent the holiday season at
Golfe Juan, France, and gave a Christmas
party for some 50 orphans. She returned to her home port, Newport, on 2 March
the period from March through June, Waccamaw held a dependents' cruise; supported the fruitless Thresher
(SSN-593) search; and conducted two
deployments which totalled five weeks with Canadian antisubmarine warfare forces. Late in July, Waccamaw departed Newport for six weeks in the Caribbean supporting Commander, ASW Forces, Atlantic Fleet, embarked in Randolph (CVS-15). Waccamaw
fueled the carrier and her five escorting destroyers 10 times. Upon her return, she stopped at Norfolk,
Va., for a successful operational readiness inspection.
spent most of
the fall in Newport, with scattered brief
commitments and type training periods underway.
Much time was devoted to the administrative
inspection for fiscal 1964 which was held in November. At the year's
end, preparations were hard underway on board Waccamaw for the most
extensive yard period in the ship's 17-year
history. She was scheduled to enter
the Puget Sound Bridge and Dry-dock
Co. in Seattle on 29 February 1964.
January 1964, Waccamaw got underway for Seattle, Wash., and arrived on the 21st of
February. During a
seven-month yard period, she received the oiler equivalent of "framming", "jumbo
On 26 February 1965, the ship
returned to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash. At that time, her status was changed from "in commission, in
reserve" to "in commission, active." Following a fitting out and ready-for-sea period, Waccamaw departed the Puget Sound area and proceeded to San Diego, Calif., arriving there on 23 April. After
stopping at Acapulco, Mex., and
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the ship
returned to Newport, R.I., on 12 May 1965.
the period between 14 May and 17 June, Waccamaw
engaged in shakedown training at
Guantanamo Bay; then proceeded to Norfolk, Va., her new home port, for a period of upkeep and acceptance trials. On 13 July, she sailed for the Boston Naval
Shipyard for post-shakedown
availability which lasted from 19 July
through 9 November. On 14 November, Waccamaw returned to Norfolk
and underwent type training and services before serving as a replenishment ship
for the primary recovery group assigned to the Gemini VI and VII space missions. She returned to Norfolk on 19
December and spent the remainder of
1965 in type training and services.
got underway on
10 January 1966 for the Caribbean and
Operation "Springboard." During this exercise, she refueled 42 ships and conducted gunnery exercises and other at-sea trials before returning
to Craney Island on 4 February. Upon
her return, she operated in the Virginia capes area and began making preparations for overseas deployment.
On 4 May
1966, Waccamaw departed Norfolk destined for the Mediterranean. She was the first "jumbo
operate with the 6th Fleet. During her Mediterranean cruise, she steamed in excess of 20,000
miles, refueled 256
ships, and pumped more than 32 million gallons of fuel oil. On 20 October, she returned to the Norfolk Naval Station, then
proceeded to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to repair the damage sustained in a minor collision with Noa (DD-841).
The ship took part in
Exercise "Lantflex 66" in the Caribbean
on 28 November. Waccamaw returned to the Norfolk Naval Station on 15 December and remained until the end of the year for tender availability
and holiday leave.
refueling ships of the 2d Fleet and lifting fuel at Craney Island, Waccamaw departed on 27
February 1967 to
escort six destroyers to the Azores. She returned on 21 March, then got
underway again on 10 April
for Operation "Clovehitch III" which lasted through the end of the month. On
1 May, the ship returned
to Norfolk for upkeep and tender availability.
June 1967, Waccamaw departed for a midshipman training cruise to the Caribbean and returned
to Norfolk for
upkeep. On 24 July, she took part in NATO Exercise "Lashout;" and, upon her return to
prepared for annual administrative and operational readiness inspections which were completed on 28 August and 12 September,
respectively. From 6 to 27 October, the ship had tender availability at the Norfolk Naval Base.
departed on 13
November for her 11th Mediterranean
cruise. At the close of 1967, Waccamaw was
at Naples, Italy, for a holiday liberty and upkeep period. This cruise ended on 23 April 1968 when
the ship arrived at Norfolk, Va. On 28 May, she participated in the
search for the nuclear submarine Scorpion (SSN-589). This was followed by exercises in the Jacksonville, Fla., and Virginia capes operating areas
and participation in NATO Exercise "Silvertower" with the
British and Canadian Navies. During "Silvertower," Waccamaw refueled 69 ships before returning to Norfolk on 15 October. The ship then operated off the Virginia and Florida coasts until 21 November when
she underwent tender availability at
Craney Island, Va., and returned to Norfolk on 18 December 1968 to
finish the year in liberty and upkeep.
began the year
1969 in her home port of Norfolk, Va., and, on 2 January, arrived at the Maryland Shipbuilding and
Drydock Co., Baltimore, for routine hull maintenance followed by regular overhaul at Home Bros. Shipyard, Newport
News, Va. After conducting
exercises in the Virginia capes operating area, she completed refresher training in Guantanamo Bay on 20 June. The next month
was spent in operations off the Virginia
and Florida coasts. On 21 August, the ship moved to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard,
Portsmouth, Va., to make final preparations
September 1969, Waccamaw got underwav for deployment to the North
Atlantic. From 17 to 23 September, she
participated in NATO Exercise "Operation Peacekeeper."
Wacamaw returned to the Naval Station, Norfolk, on 11 December and remained there until the end of 1969 for leave and upkeep.
January and February of 1970, Waccamaw continued a period of tender availability. After a
fuel lift at Craney
Island, she departed on 5 March for a Mediterranean deployment. However, problems with her feed pumps forced Waccamaw to
return to Norfolk. Repairs
completed, she again set sail for the Mediterranean on 17 March and arrived at Rota, Spain, 12 days later. On 7 April, Waccamaw was honored by
the visits of the Vice Chief of Naval
Operations and the Commander, 6th
Fleet. On 22 May, Admiral Zumwalt, Chief
of Naval Operations, visited Waccamaw, high-lining on board from Julius A. Purer (DEG-6).
The ship arrived at Rota,
Spain, on 17 September. However, just four hours before outchop, she was notified that her deployment was to be extended due
to the crisis in Jordan. Underway on
the 18th, she returned to the
Mediterranean. After visiting Athens, Greece, and Soudha Bay, Crete, Waccamaw again departed for Rota,
Spain, and home. Waccamaw arrived at Norfolk, Va., on 31 October and spent the remainder of 1970 in leave and upkeep.
The year 1971 found Waccamaw
in restricted availability status in
Norfolk, Va. After sea trials on 10 February
and a fuel lift at Craney Island on 16 February, Waccamaw got underway for operations on 20 February.
Three days later, she collided with Detroit (AOE-4) during an underway replenishment but sustained very little damage. However, she returned to
Norfolk for repairs which lasted from
24 February to 9 March.
During the next month, Waccamaw
operated in the Jacksonville, Fla.,
operations area. Upon her return to Norfolk,
the ship remained in port for repairs until 28 June.
June 1971, Waccamaw deployed to the North Atlantic to support the antisubmarine warfare
group. Steering difficulties forced her to return home early on 29 August. Waccamaw spent the remainder of the
year in port undergoing steering repairs and upkeep, except for sea trials on 20 September and services in the
Virginia capes area from 2 to 24
Waccamaw departed on 3 January 1972 for refresher training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She returned to Norfolk
on 12 February, after having visited Port-au-Prince,
Haiti, and Port Everglades, Fla. The ship spent the next month in port
providing services for a naval reserve
surface division. From 17 March through 30 May, Waccamaw conducted operations in the Virginia capes area
and off the east coast of Florida and South Carolina.
May 1972, Waccamaw set sail from Norfolk, Va., for a nine-month deployment to Subic Bay,
Philippines. On 21 June, the ship rounded
the Cape of Good Hope and entered the Indian
Ocean. Arriving on 11 July, she
anchored in Subic Bay after a 41-dav transit. Five days later, she got underway for her first "line swing" off the embattled coast of Vietnam.
This duty consumed the rest of the
year, with the exception of periodic
rests and repairs at Hong Kong and Singapore.
Waccamaw found herself working again early in the new year. On 4 January 1973, a milestone was
reached: Waccamaw refueled Lang (DE-1060), her last of 246 commitments off the coast of Vietnam. The ship returned to Subic Bay, thence to Pearl Harbor, the Panama Canal, and, finally, Norfolk, Va. She
arrived at her home port on 17 February 1973, after circumnavigating the world.
April, Waccamaw got underway to provide services to NATO forces operating off the coast of
Greenland. Upon her return to Norfolk, the ship underwent restricted
availability from 4 May until 16 July. After extensive repairs, Waccamaw got
underway on 8 December 1973 to operate off
the coast of Virginia. She returned to
Norfolk one week later and spent the last weeks of 1973 in her home port area.
January 1974, Waccamaw got underway for Mayport, Fla., and operated in the Jacksonville
area. On 27 January, she arrived at
Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and took part
in Operation "Springboard-74," followed by a stop at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arriving on 18 February. Waccamaw departed on the
1st of March for Norfolk, Va., where
she remained through April. On 3
May, the ship got underway for a Mediterranean cruise. This seven-month deployment took the ship to ports in Spain, Italy, France, Greece,
Crete, and Turkey.
December 1974, Waccamaw returned to Norfolk, Va., where she prepared for decommissioning.
The ship was
decommissioned on 24 February 1975. Waccamaw is presently serving in the
Military Sealift Command,
where she is manned by a civilian crew.
award of the Meditorious Unit
Commendation for participation in the Jordanian crisis of 1970 and a Meritorious Unit Commendation and one battle star
for service in Vietnam
[Note: The above USS WACCAMAW (AO-109) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS WACCAMAW (AO-109), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]