USS Noxubee (AOG-56)

USS Noxubee (AOG-56)

USS "Noxubee" (AOG-56) was a "Patapsco"-class gasoline tanker acquired by the U.S. Navy for the dangerous task of transporting gasoline to warships in the fleet, and to remote Navy stations.

"Noxubee", a gasoline tanker of the United States Navy served in a commissioned status from 1945-1959, and 1965-1975. She was named for a river in Mississippi.

"Noxubee" was designed to replenish shore bases and ships. In addition she carried a limited quantity of light freight and provisions, and was capable of replenishing ships at sea. Although designated a gasoline tanker she frequently carried a split cargo of aviation gasoline, motor gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and Navy Special Fuel Oil.

1945-1959

"Noxubee" was built by Cargill, Incorporated, Savage, Minnesota. Her keel was laid November 17, 1944. She was launched on April 3, 1945, under the sponsorship of Mrs. Wilbur F. Bagley of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mrs. Bagley, representing the shipyard workers, was the wife of a veteran Cargill employee. Their son, Sergeant Wilbur L. Bagley, USMC had given his life for his country in the Solomon Islands.

"Noxubee" had a length of 310 feet, 10 inches; extreme beam, 48 feet 7 inches; displacement of 4,160 tons; draft, 15 feet, 0 inches; and a top speed of 14 knots. Her original complement was 8 officers and 116 men. When first commissioned she was armed with four 3-Inch .50 caliber guns. Her cargo capacity was 680,000 gallons of petroleum products, approximately 2000 tons. "Noxubee" commissioned at Algiers, Louisiana, October 19, 1945, Lieutenant John Lande, USNR, commanding.

"Noxubee" departed New Orleans on November 6, 1945, for shakedown training in the Gulf of Mexico operating out of Galveston, Texas. On January 12 1946 she began the first of two round trips to Bermuda. On February 26, she put to sea from Galena, Texas bound for Trinidad and Guantanamo Bay and then to a re-fueling rendezvous with fleet tugs USS "Mosopelea" (ATF-158) and USS "Hopi" (ATF-71). On April 2, she arrived at Bermuda for a three-day stay. Departing Bermuda she steamed north for Philadelphia, Norfolk, and then on to NS Argentia, Newfoundland, and back to Norfolk.

In the following months, "Noxubee" continued to operate out of Norfolk, transporting petroleum products to Argentia, Newfoundland; Goose Bay, Labrador; the Azores and Iceland. On November 16, 1947, Newport, Rhode Island, became her base of operations. From there she shuttled gasoline and oil to bases in Greenland and Newfoundland, and even made a few trips south to Texas and other Gulf States. From March 6 to April 3 1950, "Noxubee" crossed the Atlantic from Newport with a liquid cargo for Casablanca, French Morocco, returning to Norfolk. A similar voyage was made from January 23 to March 5 1951, with Naples, Italy added to her itinerary. After returning home, she made trips to Bermuda, Cuba, and to Newfoundland. She once again departed Norfolk July 14, this time for duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. "Noxubee" was based in Tripoli, Libya and replenished units of the Sixth Fleet in ports of Italy, France, Greece, Algiers and Malta. She departed Tripoli on April 20 1952 and arrived in New York on May 4.

Following a period of upkeep in the Norfolk and Boston Naval Shipyards, "Noxubee" was based at Newport until March 12 1953, when she again sailed to join the Sixth Fleet. She operated out of Tripoli and traveled to the principal Mediterranean ports visited by the Sixth Fleet. "Noxubee" departed Marseilles, France on September 28, and returned to Norfolk October 14. "Noxubee" then spent nearly four months at Newport. She sailed as replenishment station ship for a short-range craft convoy en-route to the Azores via Bermuda. She returned to Newport on March 26 1954, and was overhauled in the Boston Naval Shipyard from April 29 to July 1 1954. She again departed Newport September 3, to serve with the Sixth Fleet. "Noxubee" was based at Tripoli until January 24 1955, when she departed Gibraltar for Newport on February 5. After a training cruise to Cuba and Puerto Rico, she again departed Newport August 19, for another tour in the Mediterranean, serving there until December 3.

"Noxubee" arrived in Newport from Gibraltar on December 14 1955. After traveling 23,775 miles in 1955, she was overhauled in the Boston Naval Shipyard and on May 21 1956, she again put to sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, to serve Sixth Fleet and NATO Fleet units in the Mediterranean. She returned home to Newport on October 29. "Noxubee" departed Newport on May 6 1957 for duty as station tanker with a convoy of minesweepers bound for the Azores. She returned on June 6, was overhauled in the Boston Naval Shipyard, then made a refresher training cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Noxubee" returned north to Newport on March 30 1958, ranging south to Bermuda and north to Maine before she again sailed from Newport on September 8 with a convoy en-route via Bermuda to the Azores, returning September 29. "Noxubee" departed January 2 1959 for Green Cove Springs, Florida and deactivation. She was decommissioned on March 6 1959, and was assigned to the Florida Group, U.S. Atlantic Reserve Fleet until her name was struck from the Navy List on July 1 1960. "Noxubee" was transferred to the Maritime Administration until placed on the Navy List for activation in 1965.

1965-1970

On September 10 1966, following a seven month outfitting and modernization period at Baltimore, "Noxubee" was recommissioned at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, LT Howard Pabst commanding. One month later she sailed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii via the Panama Canal as a unit of Service Squadron Five.

Following refresher training at Pearl Harbor, "Noxubee" deployed to the western Pacific on March 9 1967. During that deployment she supported advanced fuel bases along the coast of the I Corps Area, Republic of Vietnam. On August 2 1967, "Noxubee" departed Da Nang for Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan. During her return trip to Pearl Harbor "Noxubee" was diverted to Wake Island to assist in the salvage of a grounded civilian tanker. She finally arrived at Pearl Harbor on September 22 1967. While conducting a training cruise off the coast of Oahu on November 24, "Noxubee" spotted and rescued the sole survivor of a fishing boat accident.

On April 17 1968, "Noxubee" departed Hawaii for her second WESTPAC cruise. "Noxubee" headed directly for Vietnam for three months of continuous operations. In August "Noxubee" received the Battle Efficiency Pennant for fiscal year 1968. On October 28, "Noxubee" came under enemy artillery fire while anchored off Cua Viet. She escaped unharmed. During this deployment "Noxubee" set the all-time record for AOGs by pumping 20 million gallons of petroleum products and earning a Meritorious Unit Commendation. "Noxubee" returned to Pearl Harbor in December 1968.

Following six months of upkeep and training "Noxubee" again departed Pearl Harbor for Vietnam on June 2 1969. Operating out of Da Nang, she made frequent trips to Sa Hyuhn, Tan My and Cua Viet. On September 9, 1969 "Noxubee" was mined by enemy swimmers while anchored at Cua Viet. The explosion created a three foot by five foot hole in her hull but the crew suffered no casualties. Temporary repairs were quickly accomplished at Da Nang and she was back on station in less than a week. At the end of the month "Noxubee" traveled to Subic Bay for permanent repairs. In addition to Subic Bay, "Noxubee" also visited Hong Kong and Sasebo, Japan during this deployment. She returned to Pearl Harbor on February 6 1970.

1970-1975

"Noxubee" departed Pearl Harbor on May 18 1970 for her new homeport at Little Creek, Virginia and duty with Service Squadron Eight. The trip to the east coast included stops at Long Beach, California, Acapulco, Mexico, and the Panama Canal. "Noxubee" deployed for five months in the Mediterranean on December 28 1970. Her duties centered around Amphibious Task Force 61 with occasional replenishments of other Sixth Fleet ships. She also accomplished one month's surveillance of the Soviet Union Mediterranean Fleet.

Upon return to Little Creek "Noxubee" undertook a major overhaul at the Brambleton plant of Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Corporation. After completion of the overhaul and refresher training, "Noxubee" again deployed for the Mediterranean. "Noxubee" refueled ships ranging from LPH to PG types, pumping some 3,881,078 gallons of fuel. In May and July, the ship participated in exercises Dawn Patrol and National Week. Although primarily assigned to service Amphibious Task Force 61, "Noxubee" re-fueled destroyers throughout the Mediterranean. Port visits included Rota and Barcelona, Spain; Naples, Italy; Athens, Corfu, and Thera, Greece and the French Riviera. "Noxubee" returned to Little Creek on August 14.

After returning home the ship provided refueling services to units of the Mine Force off Charleston, South Carolina. On two separate occasions during December 1972 "Noxubee" was assigned to refuel destroyers on Atlantic Ocean station. During the first half of 1973 "Noxubee" underwent an RAV (Restricted Availability Period) during which many repairs were made. Upon completion of the RAV the ship conducted underway replenishment operations off the Eastern Coast of the U.S., as well as a refresher training period. These operations included the refueling of four destroyers and ten minesweepers

On June 6 1973, "Noxubee" sailed for operations with the Sixth Fleet. During this cruise "Noxubee" provided support for 55 ships of 3 nations. Port visits included Istanbul and İzmir Turkey, Athens, Corfu, and Thera, Greece and Naples Italy. "Noxubee" returned to Little Creek in November. From December 1973, to May 1974, "Noxubee" underwent an RAV period.

After a training cruise to Bermuda and the Bahamas, "Noxubee" departed for the Mediterranean on October 4 1974 for her final deployment to the Sixth Fleet. "Noxubee" visited 13 foreign ports and transferred over 5 million gallons of fuel while traveling over 17,000 miles. On April 11 1975, "Noxubee" returned to Little Creek, Virginia for the last time.

Over the next ten weeks "Noxubee" was stripped of all salvageable gear and prepared for decommissioning. The decommissioning ceremony was held at Pier 12 Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Virginia. At 1400 hours July 1, 1975, "Noxubee" was officially stricken from the list of active US Naval Ships.

Military awards and honors

"Noxubee" was awarded six campaign stars for Vietnam War service:
* Vietnam Counteroffensive - Phase II
* Vietnam Counteroffensive - Phase III
* Vietnam Counteroffensive - Phase IV
* Vietnam Counteroffensive - Phase V
* Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969
* Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970"Noxubee’s" crew was eligible for the following medals, ribbons, and commendations (shown in order of precedence):
* Combat Action Ribbon (20 Oct. and 9 Sept. 1969)
* Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
* Battle "E" Ribbon
* American Campaign Medal
* World War II Victory Medal
* Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Europe Clasp)
* National Defense Service Medal
* Vietnam Service Medal (6)
* Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Commendation (5)
* Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

References

*
*This article includes text from the USS Noxubee Webpage [http://www.ussnoxubee.org] .

External links

* [http://www.ussnoxubee.org USS Noxubee AOG-56 Webpage]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/20/2056.htm NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive - AOG-56 Noxubee]


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