USS Patoka (AO-9)


USS Patoka (AO-9)

USS "Patoka" (AO–9/AV–6/AG–125) was a fleet oiler made famous as a tender for the airships USS "Shenandoah" (ZR-1), USS "Los Angeles" (ZR-3) and USS "Akron" (ZRS-4).

Named for the Patoka River, "Patoka" was laid down 17 December 1918 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Virginia; launched 26 July 1919; acquired by the Navy from USSB 3 September 1919; and commissioned 13 October 1919, Comdr. E. F. Robinson in command.

Assigned to NOTS, "Patoka" departed Norfolk 4 November 1919 for Port Arthur, Texas, where she loaded fuel oil and sailed for Scotland, arriving on the Clyde 6 December. She returned to Port Arthur for more oil and got under way 9 January 1920 for the Adriatic Sea, arriving Split, 12 February. Returning to the United States in April "Patoka" went back to the Near East, arriving at Constantinople in June. After duty in the Adriatic and Mediterranean she returned to the United States, and served on both the east and west coasts until 1924 when she was selected as a tender for rigid airship "Shenandoah".

A mooring mast some 125 feet above the water was constructed; additional accommodations both for the crew of "Shenandoah" and for the men who handle and supply the airship were added; facilities for the helium, gasoline, and other supplies necessary for "Shenandoah" were built; as well as handling and stowage facilities for three seaplanes. This work by the Norfolk Navy Yard was completed shortly after 1 July 1924. "Patoka" retained her classification of AO–9.

"Patoka" engaged in a short series of mooring experiments with the "Shenandoah", which had reported to the Commander, Scouting Fleet for duty 1 August 1924. The first successful mooring was made 8 August 1924.

In October, "Patoka", "Milwaukee", and "Detroit", were assigned stations in the mid-Atlantic to furnish the airship "Los Angeles" with the weather reports and forecasts during her flight, 12 to 15 October 1924, from Germany, where she had been built, to Lakehurst, N.J.

During 1925 "Patoka" operated with both "Shenandoah" and "Los Angeles" in demonstrating the mobility of airships, and in reducing the number of ground personnel required to handle them. A projected polar flight by "Shenandoah", using "Patoka" as her base of operations, was cancelled when the airship was lost in a storm 3 September 1925.

Between 1925 and 1932 "Patoka" operated with "Los Angeles" and served as her base of supply and operations on her longrange flights to Puerto Rico (1925), Panama (1928), Florida (1929), and during the fleet concentration off Panama (1931). During 1932 she also operated with the newly-acquired airship "Akron", but the decommissioning of "Los Angeles", 30 June 1932 and the fallen of "Akron", 4 April 1933, foretold a rest for "Patoka". She decommissioned 31 August 1933.

On 10 November 1939 "Patoka" recommissioned at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Comdr. C.A.F. Sprague in command, and reported to Patrol Wing 5, Aircraft, Scouting Force. Her classification had been changed to AV–6, seaplane tender, 11 October 1939.

On 18 January 1940 she departed Puget Sound and, after taking on fuel and cargo at San Pedro, arrived at San Diego on the 31st. She steamed for the east coast 5 February and reached Norfolk 25 March. Next "Patoka" was assigned to the Naval Transportation Service in June and reclassified AO–9, 19 June 1940.

On 13 August she departed Norfolk and sailed to Houston. Between August and December 1940, she operated out of Houston and Baytown, Tex., delivering fuel oil to Boston, Melville, Norfolk, Charleston, and Key West.

From March 1941 to September "Patoka" delivered fuel oil and general cargo to various units of the Fleet in the Atlantic, Gulf, and Caribbean areas. On 28 September she departed Norfolk and proceeded, via Aruba, to Recife, Brazil. "Patoka" made one more round trip to Recife before the United States entered World War II.

On 7 December 1941, "Patoka" was moored at Recife, acting as tanker, cargo, store ship, and repair ship. Here she supplied the units of Task Force 3 (later 23) with fuel, diesel, lubricating oil; gasoline stores; provisions; and repairs.

Shortly after the turn of the new year 1942, she got under Brazil, anchoring there 8 January. There, she way for Bahia, received word that ships bearing rubber and other vital war goods had left French Indo-China bound for the Axis controlled ports in Europe. "Patoka" requested and received permission to patrol the shipping lanes off Bahia. When she had completed her patrol duties she put into port and returned to Recife 22 January. Six days later she was bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico, but en route she was diverted to Trinidad, B.W.I. Taking on fuel and stores she returned to Recife. Standing out of the harbor 21 February, she again set course, changed several times to avoid reported submarines, and reached San Juan, Puerto Rico 4 March. Her return trip to Recife was made without incident.

On 25 May 1942, while again returning to Recife from Trinidad escorted by "Jouett", "Patoka" sighted an enemy submarine on the surface. "Jouett" attacked, forcing the U-boat to dive and continued the attack until "Patoka" had escaped. "Patoka" remained at Recife, continuing to supply the ships of Task Force 23 with provisions, supplies and tender services until April 1943, with occasional trips to Puerto Rico and Trinidad for replensihment. "Patoka" then got underway for home, reaching Norfolk 22 May for overhaul. She sailed for New York 6 August to join a convoy bound for Aruba, N.W.I. and resumed operations along the coast of South America.

In April 1944, she carried 62 prisoners of war (German naval and merchant marine personnel) from Rio de Janeiro to Recife where they were turned over to the U.S. Army. "Patoka" departed 24 March and arrived Norfolk 6 April for an overhaul period, to prepare for duty in the Pacific.

On 15 June, "Patoka" departed from Norfolk for the Panama Canal and Pearl Harbor. There she was outfitted for duty as a minecraft tender and was reclassified AG–125 on 15 August. Shortly thereafter she sailed via Guam for Okinawa, reaching Buckner Bay 5 September. "Patoka" provided the minecraft with tender services until 21 September at which time she got underway for Wakayama, Japan. Anchoring there on 23 September, she continued to provide logistic support to units of the 5th Fleet, servicing mine vessels of Task Group 52.6. She remained with the occupational forces until the spring of 1946, returning to the United States 10 March 1946.

"Patoka" decommissioned 1 July 1946, was transferred to the War Shipping Administration, was struck from the Navy List 31 July 1946, and sold to Dulien Steel Products Co. for scrap 15 March 1948.

References

See also

* List of ship launches in 1919
* List of ship commissionings in 1919
* List of ship decommissionings in 1946


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