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USNS Ponchatoula (T-AO 148)

- formerly AO 148 -
- decommissioned -

USNS PONCHATOULA was the sixth and last ship in the NEOSHO - class of fleet oilers. The ship transfered to the Military Sealift Command on September 5, 1980. Decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list on August 31, 1992, Argentine was offered to purchase the PONCHATOULA but the South American country declined. At the moment, the PONCHATOULA is berthed at the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, Benicia, Calif., awaiting final disposal.

General Characteristics:Awarded: January 28, 1952
Keel laid: March 1, 1954
Launched: July 9, 1955
Commissioned: January 12, 1956
Decommissioned: September 5, 1980
MSC "in service": September 5, 1980
Decommissioned: August 31, 1992
Builder: New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, NJ
Propulsion system: two boilers
Propellers: two
Length: 654.8 feet (199.6 meters)
Beam: 86 feet (26.2 meters)
Draft: 35.1 feet (10.7 meters)
Displacement: approx. 37,000 tons
Speed: 20 knots
Capacity: approx. 28,700 tons of fuel
Aircraft: none
Armament: none
Crew: 125 civilians, 21 Navy personnel

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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USNS PONCHATOULA. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

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USS PONCHATOULA built at Camden, New Jersey, was commissioned in January 1956. Transferred to the Pacific Fleet shortly afterwards, she regularly deployed to the Far East to provide logistics support to the Seventh Fleet. While in the western Pacific PONCHATOULA took part in the 1958 crisis with China over the islands of Quemoy and Matsu and played an important role in sustaining a high tempo of operations during the long conflict in Vietnam. She also participated in several manned spacecraft recovery missions between 1962 and 1968.

During the 1970s PONCHATOULA's area of operations expanded into the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, reflecting growing U.S. Navy activity in that part of the Globe. In September 1980 the ship was transferred to the Military Sealift Command, becoming USNS PONCHATOULA (T-AO 148) and beginning operation with a mainly civilian crew. Based at Subic Bay for most of the next decade, she continued her underway replenishment work, helping maintain the Navy's mobility and striking power in an often troubled region. USNS PONCHATOULA was inactivated in February 1992 and laid up at Suisun Bay, California. Though stricken from the Naval Vessel Register at the end of August 1992, she remained in Navy custody until transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal in May 1999.

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Accidents aboard USS / USNS PONCHATOULA:

February 13, 1970north of Hawaii
USS POINT DEFIANCE (LSD 31) and USS PONCHATOULA are slightly damaged in a collision during refueling operations. Three sailors are injured.
November 2, 1976Pearl Harbor, HI
A major explosion takes place in a boiler of the USS PONCHATOULA while the ship is in port. The explosion blows out the side and back wall of the number 2 boiler.

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The photo below was taken by me and shows the PONCHATOULA laid-up at Suisun Bay, Calif., on March 27, 2010.

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