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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Contributed by Mike Smolinski

Contributed by Al Grazevich

USS Tappahannock (AO-43)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - Tango - Xray - Romeo
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive, 7 April 1943)
Second Row - China Service Medal (extended) - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (9)
Third Row - World War II Victory Medal - Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia or Europe clasp) - National Defense Service Medal (2)
Fourth Row - Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (1-Korea, Oct.66) - Vietnam Service Medal (7) - Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Mattaponi Class Fleet Oiler:
  • Laid down, 24 December 1941, for Keystone Tankship Corp. as SS Jorkay, a Maritime Commission type (T2-A) tanker hull, under Maritime Commission contract, (MC hull 157) at Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Chester, PA.
  • Launched, 18 April 1942
  • Delivered to Maritime Commission, 29 May 1942
  • Commissioned USS Tappahannock (AO-43), 22 June1942, at Norfolk, VA., CDR.. Alf O. R. Bergensen in command
  • During World War II USS Tappahannock was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and participated in the following campaigns:

    Asiatic-Pacific Campaign
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Consolidation of Solomon Islands
    Consolidation of southern Solomon Islands, 7 April 1943
    Western Caroline Islands operation
    Raids on Volcano-Bonin Islands and Yap Island, 31 August to 8 September 1944
    Occupation and capture of southern Palau Islands, 6 September to 14 October 1944
    Assaults on the Philippine Islands, 9 to 24 September 1944
    Gilbert Islands operation, 24 November to 1 December 1943 Leyte operation
    Northern Luzon and Formosa attacks, 11 to 14 October 1944
    Luzon attacks, 15 October and 18 to 19 October 1944
    Marshall Islands operation
    Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, 29 January to 8 February 1944
    Okinawa Gunto operation
    5th and 3rd Fleet raids in support of Okinawa Gunto operation, 23 March to 11 June 1945
    Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 12 to 25 June 1945
    Marianas operation
    Neutralization of Japanese Bases in the Bonins, Marianas and Western Pacific, 19 to 20 June 1944
    Capture and occupation of Guam, 12 July to 15 August 1944
    3d Fleet operations against Japan, 17 July to 14 August 1945
    Tinian capture and occupation, 20 July to 10 August 1944  

  • Following World War II USS Tappahannock was assigned to Occupation and China service in the Far East for the following periods:

    Navy Occupation Service Medal

    China Service Medal (extended)
    2 September to 12 December 194518 December 1945 to 26 April 1946
    17 to 19 September 19467 June to 3 August 1946
    2 to 15 October 194622 to 28 September 1946
    9 to 17 May 194718 May to 13 July 1947
    3 to 10 September 19473 to 5 March 1949
    11 to 14 September 1949 
    2 to 26 March 1951 

  • USS Tappahannock was assigned to the Naval Transportation Service (NTS), 1 July 1947
  • USS Tappahannock was next assigned to Occupation Service in Europe from 2 to 25 May 1949
  • Assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) October 1949
  • Decommissioned, 3 February 1950 at San Diego, CA. and laid up in the Reserve Fleet
  • Recommissioned, in December 1950 at San Francisco, CA. and assigned to MSTS
  • Decommissioned, 11 November 1954, at San Diego, CA.
  • Recommissioned, 12 December 1956, Todd Shipbuilding. San Pedro, CA.
  • Decommissioned, 18 November 1957, at Orange, TX.
  • Laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Beaumont, TX., 3 December 1957
  • Withdrawn from the National Defense Reserve Fleet, 20 August 1965, towed to Naval Support Activity Algiers, LA, arriving 23 August 1965
  • Recommissioned, 31 May 1966, at Naval Support Activity, Algiers, LA., CAPT. Erman O. Proctor USN, in command
  • During the Vietnam War USS Tappahannock (AO-43) participated in the following campaigns:

    Vietnam War Campaigns
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Vietnamese Counteroffensive - Phase II
    25 December 1966 to 31 May 1967
    Vietnamese Counteroffensive - Phase V
    5 to 13 July 1968
    17 to 24 July 1968
    29 July to 6 August 1968
    23 August to 2 September 1968
    Vietnamese Counteroffensive - Phase III
    1 to 17 June 1967
    Tet/69 Counteroffensive
    20 to 31 May 1969
    5 to 8 June 1969
    Tet Counteroffensive
    24 March to 1 April 1968
    Vietnam Summer-FAll 1969
    9 to 14 June 1969 and 18 to 24 June 1969
    6 to 15 July 1969
    27 July to 3 August 1969
    Vietnamese Counteroffensive - Phase IV
    2 to 5 April and 11 to 23 April 1968
    29 April to 9 May 1968
    22 to 30 June 1968

  • Decommissioned, 6 March 1970, at San Diego, CA.
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 15 July 1976
  • Transferred to the Maritime Administration (MARAD), 16 October 1970, for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, Benecia, CA.
  • Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 16 September 1987
  • USS Tappahannock earned nine battle stars for World War II service and seven campaign stars for Vietnam War service
    Displacement 7,004 t.(lt) 22,325 t.(fl)
    Length 520'
    Beam 68'
    Draft 30' 6"
    Speed 18 kts. (trial)
    Officers 18
    Enlisted 214
    Largest Boom Capacity 10 t.
    one single 5"/38 cal dual purpose gun mount
    four single 3"/50 cal dual purpose gun mounts
    four twin 40mm AA gun mounts
    four twin 20mm AA gun mounts
    Cargo Capacity15,300 DWT
    Oil 117,400 Bbls
    Gasoline 595,000 Gals
    Fuel Capacity NSFO 9,800 Bbls
    one Westinghouse geared turbine, turbo-electric drive
    two Babcock and Wilcox header-type boilers, 450psi 742°
    double Westinghouse Main Reduction Gears
    Ship's Service Generators
    two turbo-drive 400Kw 230V A.C.
    one turbo-drive 50Kw 230V A.C.
    single propeller, 12,800shp

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Source
    Tappahannock 571k Tappahannock (AO-43) keel laying, 24 December 1941, Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Chester, PA.
    US Navy photo
    Ron Reeves
    Tappahannock 87k USS Tappahannock (AO-43) refueling USS Bonhomme Richard (CVA-31) and USS Missouri (BB-63), July 1945
    US Navy photo
    Tappahannock 141k USS Tappahannock (AO-43) under way during sea trials on the Mississippi River out of Avondale Shipyards circa May 1966.
    US Navy photo from All Hands magazine, November 1966.
    Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret.
    Tappahannock 47k USS Tappahannock (AO-43) under way off Vietnam in 1967. Richard Miller BMCS USNR Ret.
    Tappahannock 66k USS Tappahannock (AO-43) refueling anti-submarine warfare aircraft carrier USS Bennington (CVS-20) and the destroyer USS McKean (DD-784) in 1968, location unknown.
    US Navy photo.
    Robert Hurst
    Tappahannock 117k USS Tappahannock (AO-43) in the South China Sea, 1 August 1969. She is preparing to refuel the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge (CVS-33).
    US Naval History and Heritage Command, photo # USN 1141717, courtesy
    Mike Green
    Tappahannock 25k USS Tappahannock (AO-43) drydocked at Subic Bay Ship Repair Facility in Artisan (AFDB-1) in 1969. Richard Miller BMCS USNR Ret.
    CVA-34 Oriskany 133k

    Seventh Fleet ships replenishing in the South China Sea, May 1969. Ships present are (from front to back): USS Wiltsie (DD-716), USS Tappahannock (AO-43), USS Oriskany (CVA-34), USS Mars (AFS-1), and USS Perkins (DD-877).
    US National Archives photo # USN 1139357, by PH1 Long USN. a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives

    US Naval History and Heritage Command

    USS Tappahannock (AO-43)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01CDR. Bergensen, Alf Ole Rug22 June 1942 - 23 September 1943
    02CAPT. Swafford, Charles Arthur23 September 1943 - 3 January 1945
    03CAPT. Corman, Harry USN Ret.3 January 1945 - ?
     Decommissioned3 February 1950 - December 1950
     DecommissionedNovember 1954 - 12 December 1956
    13CDR. Liebschner, Orville Owen (Ollie)12 December 1956 - 18 November 1957
     Decommissioned18 November 1957 - 31 May 1966
    14CAPT. Proctor, Erman Oran, USN31 May 1966 - July 1967
    15CAPT. Christiansen, John Saabye (Jack), USN :RADMJuly 1967 - August 1968
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

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

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    MARAD Vessel History Database
    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 25 August 2017