USS PONCHATOULA (AO-148)
The second Ponchatoula (AO-148) was laid down by the New York Shipbuilding
Corp., Camden, N.J., 1 March 1954 launched 9 July 1955; sponsored by Mrs. I. N.
Kiland; and commissioned 12 January 1956, Capt. William R. Wilson in command.
After fitting out at Philadelphia,
Ponchatoula, the sixth of a class designed to combine speed and large cargo
capacity for rapid underway replenishment over extended operational periods,
got underway for the Pacific. Arriving at Long Beach 10 March, she underwent
shakedown and training exercises off the California coast and in September
deployed to the Far East. Enroute she assisted SS Venus, a Panamanian
merchantman lying helpless on the fringes of two typhoons. Taking Venus in tow
on the 26th, Ponchatoula was relieved of her tow on the 28th, and continued on
to Sasebo to join the 7th Fleet.
Rotated regularly to the western Pacific
since that time, Ponchatoula was homeported at Pearl Harbor in early 1958 and
received her introduction to support under hostile conditions while operating
with 7th Fleet units during the Quemoy-Matsu Crisis in the fall of that year.
Support for experimental operations highlighted 1962 as she provided POL
services to Joint Task Force 8 engaged in operation Dominic the Christmas
Island nuclear test series, then operated Project Mercury recovery ships during
the Sigma splashdown. Repeating that support with Faith Seven 1963, she
shifted to combat operations in October 1964 deployed to the South China Sea to
refuel ships employ the coast of Viet Nam. 279 refuelings later, she returned
to Hawaiian waters. In June 1965 she participated in recovery operations for
Gemini Four, then deployed again to Viet Nam. In December she interrupted
operations there to support the recovery ships for Gemini Six and Seven and in
April 1966 returned to Hawaii having set a new record in the Pacific Fleet by
bringing 503 ships alongside, 464 of which she refueled. Deployed to WestPac
again in November 1967, she pumped over 74 million gallons of fuel through her
hoses before returning home in June 1968. In October she again joined ships in
the Pacific splashdown area, this time to recover Apollo 7, the first U.S.
By 8 December, Ponchatoula was back in
the Philippines, whence she got underway for Yankee Station in Tonkin Gulf on
the 15th to again replenish ships operating in support of Allied operations in
Viet Nam. In July 1969, she returned home and into 1970 remains in Hawaiian
[Note: The above USS PONCHATOULA (AO-148) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS PONCHATOULA (AO-148), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]