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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Lost to enemy action, 7 May 1942

USS Neosho (AO-23)

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive, 7 December 1941, 7 May 1942) - American Defense Campaign Medal (with Fleet clasp)
Bottom Row - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (2) - World War II Victory Medal

Personal Awards

Purple Hearts (3-WIA, Pearl Harbor)

Cimarron Class Fleet Oiler:
  • Laid down, 22 June 1938, as a Maritime Commission type (T3-S2-A1) tanker hull, under Maritime Commission contract (MC-6) at Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Kearny, N.J.
  • Launched, 24 April 1939
  • Commissioned USS Neosho (AO-23), 7 August 1939, CDR. E. A. Mullan in command
  • During World War II USS Neosho was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and participated in the following actions:

    Asiatic-Pacific Campaigns
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941 Coral Sea, 4 to 8 May 1942

  • Lost to enemy action at the Battle of the Coral Sea, fatally damaged by enemy air attack, 7 May 1942, sunk by gunfire from USS Henley (DD-391), 11 May 1942
  • Crew Dissolution and ship struck from the Naval Register aboard USS Wright (AV-1) at Sydney Australia, 28 May 1942
  • USS Neosho earned two battle stars for World War II service
    Displacement 7,470 t.(lt) 25,425 t.(fl)
    Length 553'
    Beam 75'
    Draft 32' 3"
    Speed 18.3 kts.
    Officers 34
    Enlisted 267
    Largest Boom Capacity 10 t.
    four single 5"/38 cal dual purpose gun mounts
    four twin 40mm AA gun mounts
    four twin 20mm AA gun mounts
    Cargo Capacity 16,500DWT
    Oil 122,400 Bbls
    Gasoline 805,000 Gals
    Fuel Capacity 14,850 Bbls
    two Westinghouse geared steam turbines
    four Babcock and Wilcox header-type boilers, 450psi 750°
    double Westinghouse Main Reduction Gears
    two turbo-drive 400Kw 230V A.C. Ship's Service Generators
    twin propellers. 13,500shp

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Source
    Neosho 162k USS Neosho (AO-23) as delivered to the US Navy in August 1939. View looking forward from after deck house shows complex piping typically found on oilers.
    A US National Archives photo from "Gray Steel and Black Oil: Fast Tankers and Replenishment at Sea in the U.S. Navy 1912 - 1992", by Thomas Wildenburg.
    Robert Hurst
    Neosho 84k USS Neosho (AO-23) just after commissioning, 7 August1939.
    US Navy photo NH 63448 from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center
    Neosho 86k USS Neosho (AO-23) under way at New York City, date unknown.
    Photo courtesy Auke Visser's Famous T - Tankers Pages
    Robert Hurst
    Neosho 293k USS Neosho (AO-23), cautiously backs away from her berth (right center) in a successful effort to escape the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. At left the battleship USS California (BB-44) lists after aerial blows. Other crippled warships and part of the hull of the capsized USS Oklahoma (BB-37) may be seen in the background.
    US Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs Division digital ID fsa.8e01821, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US Library of Congress.
    Robert Hurst
    Neosho 46k USS Neosho (AO-23) under way, date and location unknown.
    US Navy photo
    David Merrill
    Neosho 20k USS Neosho (AO-23) refueling USS Yorktown (CV-5), 1 May 1942, shortly before the Battle of Coral Sea.
    Note use of Yorktown's aircraft crane to support her end of the refueling rig.
    US National Archives photo # 80-G-464653, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives.
    US Naval Historical Center
    Neosho 23k a wave breaks over main deck, engulfing hose crew, as USS Neosho (AO-23) refuels USS Yorktown (CV-5) early in May 1942, shortly before the Battle of Coral Sea. US National Archives photo # 80-G-13106, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives. US Naval Historical Center
    Neosho 20k USS Neosho (AO-23) refueling USS Yorktown (CV-5) in heavy seas shortly before the Battle of Coral Sea.
    US National Archives photo # 80-G-16444, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives
    US Naval Historical Center
    Neosho 754k Aerial view of USS Neosho (AO-23) on fire and sinking in the Coral Sea after an attack by Imperial Japanese Navy dive bombers, 7 May 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea. From Wikimedia Commons.
    Photo from "Beyond Pearl Harbor: The Untold Stories of Japan's Naval Airmen", by Ron Werneth, Schiffer Military History, Atglen, PA, 2008, p. 66. (Japanese Defense Agency, War History Section photo).
    Charles Ainsworth

    USS Neosho (AO-23)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01CDR. Mullan, William Evans Anthony7 August 1939 - 19 June 1941
    02CDR. Phillips, John Spinning :RADM19 June 1941 - 11 May 1942 (sink date)
    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
    Pearl Harbor Action Report
    Back To The Navsource Photo Archives Main Page Back To The Service Force Ship Type Index Back To The Fleet Oiler (AO) Photo Index
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
    All pages copyright NavSource Naval History
    Last Updated 16 September 2016