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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Contributed by Mike Smolinski

Contributed by Al Grazevich

USS Ashtabula (AO-51)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - Zulu - Alpha - Uniform
JANAP Tactical Voice Radio Call Sign - Vigil (U)niform - Section 6A of JANAP 119(F) 1968
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive - 24 October 1944) - Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
Second Row - China Service Medal (extended) - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (5)
Third Row - World War II Victory Medal - Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp) - National Defense Service Medal (2)
Fourth Row - Korean Service Medal (7) - Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (4-Quemoy-Matsu, 9-Vietnam, 1-Korea, 1-Op. Frequent Wind) - Vietnam Service Medal (8)
Fifth Row - Humanitarian Service Medal (1-Frequent Wind, 1-Boat People) - Philippines Presidential Unit Citation - Philippines Liberation Medal
Sixth Row - United Nations Service Medal - Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal - Republic of Korea War Service Medal (retroactive)

Cimarron Class Fleet Oiler:
  • Laid down, 1 October 1942, as a Maritime Commission type (T3-S2-A3) tanker hull, under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 717), at Bethlehem-Sparrows Point Shipyard., Inc., Sparrows Point, MD.
  • Launched, 22 May 1943
  • Acquired by the Navy, 7 August 1943
  • Commission USS Ashtabula (AO-51), 7 August 1943, CDR. Louis Joseph Modave in command
  • During World War II USS Ashtabula was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater participated in eight campaigns including:

    Asiatic-Pacific Campaigns
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Marshall Islands operation
    Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, 29 January to 8 February 1944
    Okinawa Gunto operation
    Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 24 March to 30 June 1945
    5th and 3rd Fleet raids in support of Okinawa Gunto operations, 16 March to 13 June 1945
    Marianas operation
    Capture and occupation of Saipan, 11 June to 10 August 1944
    Battle of Philippine Seas, 19 to 20 June 1944
    Capture and occupation of Guam, 21 to 26 July 1944
    3d Fleet operations against Japan , 10 July to 14 August 1945
    Leyte operation
    Leyte landings, 25 to 28 October 1944

  • Between 1945 and 1956 USS Ashtabula 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 1945 to 4 March 19462 September 1945 to 4 March 1946
    17 May to 14 June 194617 May to 14 June 1946
    16 to 26 November 194629 December 1948 to 14 February 1949
    16 to 17 February 194923 October to 6 December 1950
    18 to 20 October 195020 January to 21 February 1952
     13 January to 14 February 1954
     23 to 30 January 1955
     21 February to 17 March 1955
     31 January to 4 March 1956

  • During Korean War USS Ashtabula participated in the following campaigns:

    Korean War Campaigns
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Communist China Aggression
    8 December 1950 to 18 January 1951
    Second Korean Winter
    28 November to 5 December 1951
    19 December 1951 to 9 January 1952
    11 to 18 March 1952
    First UN Counter Offensive
    4 to 9 and 21 to 28 March 1951
    31 March to 4 April 1951
    9 to10, 15, and 19 to 21 April 1951
    Korean Defense Summer-Fall 1952
    30 October to 6 November 1952
    Communist China Spring Offensive
    22 to 30 April 1951
    12 to 22 May 1951
    6 to 12 and 15 to 21 June 1951
    Third Korean Winter
    13 to 22 November 1952
    UN Summer-Fall Offensive
    29 October to 16 November 1951
    20 to 27 November 1951

  • During the Vietnam War USS Ashtabula participated in the following campaigns:

    Vietnam War Campaigns
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Vietnam Defense
    4 to 17 August 1965
    24 August to 1 September 1965
    7 to 15 September 1965
    22 September to 4 October 1965
    17 October to 2 November 1965
    19 to 29 November 1965
    7 to 21 December 1965
    Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970
    1 to 16 November 1969
    Vietnamese Counteroffensive
    2 to 8 January 1966
    19 January to 1 February 1966
    Vietnamese Counteroffensive - Phase VII
    20 to 24 August 1970
    15 September to 3 October 1970
    23 October to 3 November 1970
    13 November to 2 December 1970
    18 December 1970
    16 January to 1 February 1971
    4 to 25 December 1971
    31 December 1971 to 5 January 1971
    Vietnamese Counteroffensive - Phase II
    7 to 12 and 17 to 25 September 1966
    10 to 16 and 20 to 29 October 1966
    4 to 10 November 1966
    5 to 7 and 16 to 26 December 1966
    22 January to 5 February 1967
    23 February to 2 March 1967
    10 to 17 March 1967
    Consolidation II
    3 to 5 January 1972
    12 January to 3 February 1972
    12 to 29 February 1972
    10 to 17 March 1972
    Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969
    14 to 27 June 1969
    3 to 11 and 17 to 24 July 1969
    30 July to 6 August 1969
    21 August to 15 September 1969
    30 September to 9 October 1969
    18 to 22 October 1969
    Vietnam Ceasefire
    1 to 11 April 1972
    19 April to 17 May 1972
    29 May to 19 June 1972
    29 June to 13 July 1972
    21 to 30 July 1972

  • Decommissioned, 30 September 1982
  • Transferred to the Maritime Commission, 22 November 1982, for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, Benecia, CA.
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 6 September 1991
  • Final Disposition, disposed of as target 15 October 2000
  • USS Ashtabula was earned five battle stars for World War II service, seven battle stars for Korean War service, and eight campaign stars for Vietnam War service
    Displacement 7,470 t.(lt) 23,235 t.(fl) 25,440 t. (lim)
    Length 553'
    Beam 75'
    Draft 32' 4" (lim)
    Speed 18.3 kts.
    Complement 20 Officers, 278 Enlisted
    Largest boom capacity 10 tons
    Cargo Capacity
    Navy Standard Fuel Oil 123,700 bbls.
    Gasoline 788,000 bbls.
    one single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount
    four single 3'/50 dual purpose gun mounts
    four twin 40mm AA gun mounts
    eight single 20mm AA gun mounts
    Fuel Oil Capacity 15,000 bbls.
    two Bethlehem turbines
    four Foster-Wheeler boilers "K" type boilers 450psi 750°
    double Falk main reduction gears
    Ship's Service Generators
    one turbo-drive 400Kw 230V A.C.
    one Diesel-drive 150Kw 230V A.C.
    twin propellers, 13,500shp
    Jumboized Specifications Changes:
    Displacement 16,500 t.(lt) 36,500 t.(fl)
    Length 644'
    Complement 20 officers, 350 enlisted
    Armament four single 3"/50 gun mounts
    Cargo Capacity 145,000 barrels
    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Contributed By / Source
    Ashtabula 338k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) under way in Chesapeake Bay, circa August 1943.
    US Navy photo # USN 47320
    Scott Koen
    Ashtabula 106k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) fully loaded circa 1944. Her anti-aircraft armament has been upgraded to include four 40mm twin mounts.
    US National Archives, RG-19-LCM. Photo # 19-N-72463 a US Navy Bureau of Ships photo now in the collections of the US National Archives, courtesy
    Robert Hurst
    Ashtabula 94k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) refuels USS Boxer (CV-21) and a destroyer in heavy seas, during operations off the Korean coast. Photo is dated 10 April 1951.
    US National Archives photo # 80-G-435050, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives
    US Naval Historical Center
    Ashtabula 76k Broadside view of USS Ashtabula (AO-51) off Mare Island, 30 October 1956. Ashtabula was undergoing repairs at Mare Island from 15 August. to 31 October 1956.
    Mare Island Naval Shipyard photo # 31969-10-56, 10/30/56
    Darryl Baker
    Ashtabula 59k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) under way in 1957, location unknown. Richard Miller BMCS USNR Ret.
    Ashtabula 150k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) under way in port, date and location unknown.
    US Navy photo
    Tommy Trampp
    Ashtabula 40k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) refueling USS Thomaston (LSD-28) refueling, circa January-February 1963, Pacific Ocean Ron Reeves
    Ashtabula 112k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) refueling USS Ranger (CVA-61) and USS Worden (DLG-18) in WestPac, circa 1964-65. Photo from USS Ranger Cruise book 1964-65 John Slaughter USS Ranger
    Ashtabula 106k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) under way in the Gulf of Tonkin, circa 1966. Richard Miller BMCS USNR Ret.
    Ashtabula 296k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) after Jumboization, 1968 Ed Benningfield GMG1 USNR Ret, USS Ashtabula 1968-70
    Bronstein 333k 12 June 1969: off Vietnam - USS Ashtabula (AO-51) simultaneously refueling the USS Kearsarge (CVS-33) and USS Bronstein (DE-1037) in the Gulf of Tonkin.
    U.S. Navy photo #1996.488.198.018 from the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Museum / Naval Aviation Museum
    Mike Green
    Ashtabula 64k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) refueling an unidentified destroyer off the coast of Vietnam, with USCGC Rush (WHEC 723) making an approach to starboard, circa 1970s Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret
    USCGC Rush web site
    Ashtabula 135k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) under way circa 1970s, location unknown. Richard Miller BMCS USNR Ret.
    Ashtabula 104k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) under way at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, HI., date unknown.
    US Navy photo from "All Hands" magazine, February 1981.
    Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret.
    CVA-14 Ticonderoga 108k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) refuels USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) refueling while operating off the coast of Vietnam, circa early 1966.
    US Navy photo received for the "All Hands" magazine Editorial Department, 14 February 1966.
    US Navy photo# NH 97487 from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center.

    US Naval Historical Center
    Ashtabula 72k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) underway in the Gulf of Tonkin, circa 1970s. Richard Miller BMCS USNR Ret.
    Ashtabula 177k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) conducting an underway replenishment with USS Saratoga (CVA-60) and USS Sarsfield (DD-837) in the South China Sea, 17 May 1972 Glenn Sirkis MMSN STREAM Team A-Division USS Ashtabula WestPac 1971-1972
    Ashtabula 127k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) at anchor at Hong Kong in 1975.
    Photos courtesy of Karsten Petersen, Sailor-Global Images.
    Robert Hurst
    Ashtabula 122k
    Ashtabula 39k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) at anchor in Subic Bay, Philippines, date unknown. Richard Miller BMCS USN Ret.
    Mercury 77k USS Ashtabula (AO-51) moored pierside to at Naval Station Subic Bay in March 1981. USNS Mercury (T-AKR-10) on the opposite side of the pier is taking on containerized cargo.
    US Navy photo from "US Amphibious Boats and Craft", by Norman Friedman.
    Robert Hurst
    Ashtabula 123k USS Ashtabula(AO-51) moored port side to at Naval Station Subic Bay, date unknown. Richard Miller BMCS USNR Ret.
    Ashtabula 64k Ex-USS Ashtabula(AO-51) as target ship. In all, Ashtabula was subjected to eight Harpoon missiles, two standard (SM-2) missiles, three Sea Skua missiles, four bombs from S-3 Vikings, and over 100 rounds of gunfire from 3", 100mm, and 5" guns. Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret
    Ashtabula 64k This 15 October 2000 view shows a close-up of ex-USS Ashtabula (AO-51)'s stern, where a Sea Skua missile scored a hit. The missile was equipped with a penetration warhead, so it exploded inside the ship, causing major internal destruction but leaving relatively little external evidence Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret
    Ashtabula 64k Despite the terrific pounding she suffered from a force of seven US, British and French ships on October 14th, ex USS Ashtabula (AO-51) remained afloat the next day. She was finally sent to the bottom by demolition charges. The frigate in the background is USS Thach (FFG 43). Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret
    Ashtabula 64k The last view of ex-USS Ashtabula, a tough ship by any standards, or a sad commentary on modern day missiles. Frigate in the background is USS Thach (FFG 43). Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret

    For more photos and information about USS Ashtabula, see;
  • Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
  • MARAD Vessel History Database
  • USS Ashtabula 1943 - 2000
  • Commanding Officers

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

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    Last Updated 3 June 2016