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Auxiliary Ships & Vietnam

Vietnam Veterans: Thank you for your service to our countryU.S. Navy auxiliary ships support combatant ships; they are not meant to be fighting ships, though they do have some self-defense capability.  The Navy used its auxiliary fleet extensively during the Vietnam War, as it had in the Korean War and World War II.  Navy auxiliary ships performed many valuable services during the Vietnam War, including replenishment, repair, transport and harbor support.

Asbestos aboard Navy auxiliary ships used in the Vietnam War

Throughout the Vietnam War, U.S. Navy auxiliary ships were covered with all sorts of asbestos fireproofing, insulation, packing materials, gaskets and other asbestos products.  The young sailors who served aboard Navy vessels, including auxiliary ships, during the 1960s and 1970s could hardly avoid exposure to asbestos.  Asbestos covered the interior and exterior of much of the heavy equipment and many of the steam pipes installed throughout the ships – especially in the engine rooms, boiler rooms and fire rooms.  When that asbestos was damaged, dislodged, repaired or removed, tiny asbestos fibers went spiraling into the air where they were inhaled by those nearby in the close, cramped quarters aboard ship. That exposure puts Navy veterans at risk today for developing mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer.

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Auxiliary Ships Serving in the Vietnam War

Auxiliary ships provide support to combatant ships while they are on the high seas, allowing them to remain underway, rather than have to dock at port for replenishment of fuel or other supplies.  The vessels provide a variety of critical services.  Any of the Navy auxiliary ships on which you may have served during the Vietnam War would have contained asbestos.  Listed below are many of the U.S. Navy auxiliary ships that served during the Vietnam War. 

Ammunition Ships (AE) in Vietnam

Ammunition ships are auxiliary vessels used to replenish combatant ships on the high seas with ammunition.  The Suribachi class of auxiliary vessels consisted of two ammunition ships built at the Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard in 1956 and 1957: Suribachi AE-21 and Mauna Kea AE-22.

The Kilauea class of ammunition ships (T-AE) included eight cargo vessels used for underway replenishment of U.S. Navy combatant ships.  The ammunition ships were built between 1968 and 1972.  They were 564 feet in length and propelled by one turbine and three boilers.  The USS Butte (AE-27) served in the Tonkin Gulf from December 1972 to July 1973 and received the Vietnam Service Medal with one battle star.  The USS Shasta (AE-6) gave battle group support during the Vietnam War in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Ammunition ships serving in Vietnam include the following:

Auxiliary Ships Filled with Asbestos Created Risk of MesotheliomaUSS Butte (AE-27)

USS Diamond Head (AE-19)

USS Haleakala (AE-25)

USS Mauna Kea (AE-22)

USS Mauna Loa (AE-8)

USS Mazama (AE-9)

USS Mount Baker (AE-4)

USS Mount Katmai (AE-16)

USS Paricutin (AE-18)

USS Rainier (AE-5)

USS Santa Barbara (AE-28)

USS Shasta (AE-6)

USS Suribachi (AE-21)

USS Vesuvius (AE-15)

USS Wrangell (AE-12)

USS Aludra (AF-55) stores ship insulated with asbestosStores Ships (AF) in Vietnam

USS Aludra (AF-55)

USS Bellatrix (AF-62)

USS Denebola (AF-56)

USS Graffias (AF-29)

USS Pictor (AF-54)

USS Procyon (AF-61)

USS Regulus (AF-57)

USS Zelima (AF-49)

Combat Stores Ship (AFS) in Vietnam

USS Mars (AFS-1) combat stores ship laden with asbestosCombat stores ships are U.S. Navy auxiliary ships that support of aircraft carrier groups by providing underway replenishment of various stores and munitions.  The Mars-class of combat stores ships included seven auxiliary ships built for the Navy during the 1960s and serving in the Vietnam War.  While defending themselves, the Mars-class ships are reported to have shot down enemy Vietnamese aircraft.

The ships were 581-feet-long with a cargo capacity of around 7,000 tons with five holds.  The vessels were built by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company and were propelled by 3 boilers and 1 turbine.

Combat Stores Ships serving in Vietnam include the following:

USS Mars (AFS-1)

USS Niagara Falls (AFS-3)

USS San Jose (AFS-7)

Survey Ships (AGS) in Vietnam

USS Maury (AGS-16)

USS Rehoboth (AGS-50)

Hospital Ships (AH) in Vietnam

USS Repose AH-16 hospital ship insulated with asbestosHospital ships were a type of U.S. Navy auxiliary ship used to treat servicemen injured during the Vietnam War, the Korean War and in World War II.  During the Second World War, the class of hospital ships known as the Haven class was built.  These ships were capable of receiving wounded troops via helicopter and were the Navy’s first completely air conditioned ships.

The six ships in the class were built in 1943 and 1944.  They were 520-feet-long and propelled by a geared turbine.  The Haven hospital ships could care for up to 800 patients and carried a complement of 95 officers and 606 men.  The USS Repose (AH-16) treated 9,000 battle casualties during the War in Vietnam.  The USS Haven (AH-12) treated wounded during the Korean War.

Hospital Ships serving in the Vietnam War include the following:

USS Repose (AH-16)

USS Sanctuary (AH-17)

Cargo Ships (AK) in Vietnam

USS Herkimer (AK-188)

USS Muskingum (AK-198)

Light Cargo Ships (AKL) in Vietnam

USS Mark (AKL-12)

Net Laying Ships (AN) in Vietnam

USS Cohoes (AN-78)

Fleet Oilers (AO) in Vietnam

USS Ashtabula AO-51 (1969) fleet oiler laden with asbestosBetween 1938 and 1945, the U.S. Navy commissioned 35 oilers in the Cimarron class of underway replenishment oil tankers.  The 553-foot-long ships were powered by geared turbines and carried 146,000 barrels of fuel.  Each had a complement of 304 men.

Eight of the T3 type oilers were later “jumboized” in the mid-1960s to increase their load capacity from 146,000 to 180,000 barrels.  The larger number was the amount of fuel required to support the fueling needs of a super-carrier and its jet air wing.  The jumboization process actually involved cutting the vessels in two, inserting a mid-portion and then welding everything back together.  The five Mispillion oilers were the first to be jumboized: USS Mispillion (AO-105); USS Navasota (AO-106); USS Passumpsic (AO-107); USS Pawcatuck (AO-108); and, USS Waccamaw (AO-109).  These were followed by the USS Ashtabula (AO-51), USS Caloosahatchee (AO-98) and USS Canisteo (AO-99).

During the Second World War, the Cimarron class auxiliary ships were the fastest and largest of the Navy’s oilers.  Many of the Cimarron underway replenishment oilers continued their service in the Korean War and the Vietnam War as well.

Fleet oilers serving in the Vietnam War include the following:

USS Ashtabula (AO-51)

USS Cacapon (AO-52)

USS Caliente (AO-53)

USS Chemung (AO-30)

USS Chipola (AO-63)

USS Cimarron (AO-22)

USS Guadalupe (AO-32)

USS Manatee (AO-58)

USS Mispillion (AO-105)

USS Navasota (AO-106)

USS Passumpsic (AO-107)

USS Platte (AO-24)

USS Suamico (AO-49)

USS Taluga (AO-62)

USS Tolovana (AO-64)

USS Waccamaw (AO-109)

Gasoline Tankers (AOG) in Vietnam

The U.S. Navy ordered a number of gasoline tankers in World War II that continued to be used later in the Korean War and in the Vietnam War.  The Patapsco-class of gasoline tankers included 23 tankers, with the hull designations AOG-1 to -11 and AOG-48 to -59.

Gasoline tankers serving in the Vietnam War include the following:

USS Elkhorn (AOG-7) gasoline tanker insulated with asbestosUSS Elkhorn (AOG-7)

USS Genesee (AOG-8)

USS Kishwaukee (AOG-9)

USS Noxubee (AOG-56)

USS Patapsco (AOG-1)

USS Tombigbee (AOG-11)

Replenishment Oilers (AOR) in Vietnam

USS Kansas City (AOR-3)

USS Wabash (AOR-5)

USS Wichita (AOR-1)

Troop Transports (AP) in Vietnam

USS General A. E. Anderson (AP-111)

USS General R. M. Blatchford (T-AP-153) troop transport insulated with asbestosUSS General R. M. Blatchford (AP-153)

USS General J. C. Breckinridge (AP-176)

USS Admiral W. L. Capps (AP-121)

USS General E. T. Collins (AP-147)

USS General LeRoy Eltinge (AP-154)

USS General W. H. Gordon (AP-117)

USS General R. L. Howze (AP-134)

USS General W. A. Mann (AP-112)

USS General John Pope (AP-110)

USS Admiral Hugh Rodman (AP-126)

USS Admiral W. S. Sims (AP-127)

USS General William Weigel (AP-119)

Barracks Ships, Self-Propelled (APB) in Vietnam

USS Colleton (APB-36)

Repair Ships (AR) in Vietnam

USS Ajax (AR-6)

USS Jason (AR-8)

USS Markab (AR-23)

Landing Craft Repair Ships (ARL) in Vietnam

USS Askari ARL 30 landing craft repair ship containing asbestosUSS Askari (ARL-30)

USS Indra (ARL-37)

USS Krishna (ARL-38)

USS Satyr (ARL-23)

USS Sphinx (ARL-24)

Rescue & Salvage Ships (ARS) in Vietnam

USS Conserver (ARS-39)

USS Opportune (ARS-41)

USS Reclaimer (ARS-42)

Ocean-Going Tugs (AT) in Vietnam

USS Mataco (AT-86)

USS Quapaw (AT-110)

Auxiliary Ocean Tugs (ATA) in Vietnam

USS Tillamook (ATA-192)

USS Wandank (ATA-204)

USS Apache (ATF-67) asbestos containing fleet ocean tugFleet Ocean Tugs (ATF) in Vietnam

USS Abnaki (ATF-96)

USS Apache (ATF-67)

USS Arikara (ATF-98)

Stores Ships (T-AF-63) in Vietnam

USNS Asterion (T-AF-63)

Miscellaneous Auxiliary Ships (T-AG) in Vietnam

USNS Cheyenne (T-AG-174)

USNS Phoenix (T-AG-172)

USNS Provo (T-AG-173)

USNS Sgt. Curtis F. Shoup (T-AG-175)

USNS Shearwater (T-AG-177)

USS Greenville Victory (T-AK-237) asbestos containing cargo shipCargo Ships (T-AK) in Vietnam

USNS Greenville Victory (T-AK-237)

USNS Lt. George W. G. Boyce (T-AK-251)

USNS Lt. James E. Robinson (T-AK-274)

USNS Lt. Robert Craig (T-AK-252)

USNS Sgt. Andrew Miller (T-AK-242)

USNS Sgt. Truman Kimbro (T-AK-254)

USNS Short Splice (T-AK-249)

Cargo Ship Dock (T-AKD) in Vietnam

USNS Point Barrow (T-AKD-1)

Aircraft Ferry Ships (T-AKV) in Vietnam

USNS Card (AKV-40)

USNS Sgt. Jack J. Pendleton (T-AKV-5)

USS Mission San Carlos (T-AO-120) asbestos containing fleet oilerFleet Oilers (T-AO) in Vietnam

USNS Cumberland (T-AO-153)

USNS Mission San Antonio (T-AO-119)

USNS Mission San Carlos (T-AO-120)

Gasoline Tankers (T-AOG) in Vietnam

USNS Rincon (T-AOG-77)

Troop Ships (T-AP) in Vietnam

USNS Marine Adder (T-AP-193)

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