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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Lost due to enemy action, 23 January 1942

USS Neches (AO-5)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - India - Foxtrot - Papa
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive, 23 January 1942) - American Defense Service Medal (with Fleet clasp)
Bottom Row - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal

Individual Awards

Purple Heart (57 KIA, 23 January 1942)

Maumee Class Fleet Oiler:
  • Laid down, 8 June 1919, at Boston Navy Yard, Boston, MA. as Neches (Fuel Ship # 17)
  • Launched, 2 June 1920
  • Commissioned USS Neches (AO-5), 25 October 1920, CDR. H. T. Meriwether, USNRF, in command
  • Lost to enemy action, 23 January 1942, with the loss of 57 men. Torpedoed by Japanese submarine HIJMS I-172 at 42° 01N 160° 06W
  • Struck from the Naval Register, date unknown
  • USS Neches earned one battle star for World War II service
    Displacement 5,400 t.(lt) 14,800 t.(fl)
    Length 475' 1"
    Beam 56' 2"
    Draft 26' 8"
    Speed 14.3 kts.
    Cargo Capacity 7,843 tons fuel oil
    Complement 136
    Original configuration
    four single 5"/51 caliber low angle guns (two side by side on the forecastle and two side by side on the stern
    two single 3" antiaircraft guns atop the cargo tank deck amidships
    World War II upgrade additions
    two single 3" AA gun mounts
    four .50 cal. machine guns
    four Ward boilers
    two vertical triple-expansion reciprocating steam engines
    twin propellers, 6,080shp

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Source
    Neches The Neches River begins in Van Zandt County west of Rhine Lake and flows for 416 miles through the piney woods of east Texas.
    Photo - Flaring bases of the Bald cypress trees at the Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas. The preserve is located just north of Houston and Beaumont, TX. and has historically been home to dense woodlands in the state. The Big Thicket was mostly uninhabited until heavy settlement from the U.S. began in the mid-19th century, and was even used as a refuge by runaway slaves and other fugitives. USDA photo by Larry Rana; 30 August 1996. (Flickr)
    Map - Neches River watershed. by I, Kuru, created from data originating at the USGS, 17 June 2006.
    Tommy Trampp
    Neches 94k Neches (Fuel Ship # 17) launching at Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA., 2 June 1920. Neches is in the center of the image. The U.S. Army Transport USAT George Washington is at right, and USS New Jersey (Battleship # 16) is at left. Note the crowd of onlookers on the ships, piers and buildings flanking Neches, and the large number of double-ended lifeboats in the right foreground. Panoramic photo by the Chester Photo Service, 39 Court Street, Boston, MA.
    US Navy photo # NH 105178 from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.
    Michael Mohl
    Neches 139k Neches (AO-5) transiting the Panama Canal, date unknown.
    US Navy photo
    Neches 277k USS Neches (AO-5) underway, circa 1920s, location unknown. James Gholson for his father James Everett Gholson SC3/c USS Neches
    Neches 113k USS Neches (AO-5) alongside USS Sapelo (AO-11) at Melbourne, Australia during the fleet visit in 1925.
    Photo by the late Allan Greene
    Neches 67k USS Neches (AO-5) at anchor, circa 1920s, location unknown.
    US Navy photo
    Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret.
    Neches 350k USS Neches (AO-5) transiting the Panama Canal, circa 1920s.
    Photo given to Chris Howell by the late Alex Wood, possibly a Panama Canal Authority photograph.
    Chris Howell, Southland Ship Stores Limited, Port of Bluff, N.Z.
    Kanawha 396k USS Neches (AO-5) outboard of USS Kanawha at Mare Island, 15 Sept. 1923.
    Marie Island Naval Shipyard Photo # MINSY 4644-9-23 now in the collections of the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum.
    Darryl Baker
    Neches 93k USS Neches (AO-5) underway in New York harbor, date unknown. Hyperwar US Navy in WWII Web Site
    Neches 112k USS Neches (AO-5) refueling USS Sands (DD-243), date and location unknown.
    US Navy photo.
    Robert Hurst
    Neches 62k USS Neches (AO-5) moored pierside, circa 1920s-30s, location unknown. She is carrying her full designed armament of four single 5"/51 gun mounts and two3"/50 AA gun mounts.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command. Photo # NH 69431, courtesy
    Mike Green
    Neches 118k USS Neches (AO-5) underway in harbor, date and location unknown.
    US Navy photo.
    Jim Kurrasch
    Battleship Iowa Pacific Battleship Center
    169k USS Neches (AO-5) underway, date and location unknown. Tommy Trampp
    Neches 112k USS Neches (AO-5) departing Mare Island Navy Yard, 29 August 1941, modifications included the addition of positions for two more 3" AA guns on the bow and stern. She is enroute to San Diego to upgrade her air defenses with two additional 3" guns and, four water-cooled Browning .50 caliber machine guns for the four gun tubs atop the bridge. Her 5" guns were retained. Note the lack of Radar.US National Archives, RG-19-LCM. Photo # 19-N-25775, a US Navy Bureau of Ships photo now in the collections of the US National Archives, courtesy Mike Green

    USS Neches (AO-5)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01CDR. Meriwether, Henry Thomas25 October 1920 - 1922
    02CDR. Shapley, Lloyd Stowell1922 - 4 October 1923
    03CDR. Willson, James David4 October 1923 - 9 June 1924
    04CDR. Martin, Frank Charles9 June 1924 - 15 June 1925
    05CAPT. Wallace, Henry George Stewart15 June 1925 - 5 April 1926
    06CDR. Rees, Albert Shaffner5 April 1926 - 1 June 1927
    07CAPT. Post, Nathan Woodward1 June 1927 - 30 June 1928
    08CDR. Brereton Jr., William Denny30 June 1928 - 20 June 1930
    09CDR. McWhorter, Charles Stakley, USN (USNA 1908)20 June 1930 - June 1932
    10CAPT. Giffen, Robert Carlisle :VADMJune 1932 - 1934
    11CDR. McCormick, Lynde Dupuy :ADMApril 1936 - May 1937
    12CDR. Knowles, Herbert Bain1938
    13CDR. Foskett, James Hicks :VADM1939 - 10 March 1941
    14CDR. Fletcher,Jr., William Bartlett :RADM10 March 1941 - 23 January 1942
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves. Photos courtesy Bill Gonyo

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information
    Fleet Tankers Association
    U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation - Navy Log

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    NAVSEA World War II War Damage Report
    Neches sinking by HIJMS I-72, 23 January 1942
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 10 March 2023