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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Patch on left contributed by Don McGrogan BMCS USN (Ret.) - Popular Patch Patch at right contributed by Jon Strupp

USS Chiwawa (AO-68)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - Yankee - Juliet - Lima
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - American Campaign Medal - Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal (2)
Bottom Row - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal - Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp)

Chiwawa Class Fleet Oiler:
  • Laid down, 26 February 1942, as SS Samoset, a Maritime Commission type (T3-S-A1) tanker hull, under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 516) at Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding, Sparrows Point, MD.
  • Launched, 25 June 1942
  • Delivered to the Maritime Commission, acquired by the US Navy and commissioned USS Chiwawa (AO-68), 24 December 1942, CDR. Harold F. Fultz, in command
  • During World War II USS Chiwawa was first assigned to the Europe-Africa-Middle East Theater and later to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and participated in the following actions/campaigns:

    Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaigns
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Convoy UGS 6 , 12 to 18 March 1943 Invasion of southern France, 15 August to 25 September 1944

  • Following World War II USS Chiwawa was assigned to Occupation service in the Far East from 2 September to 30 November 1945
  • Decommissioned, 6 May 1946
  • Transferred to the Maritime Commission, 23 August 1946, for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet
  • Struck from the Naval Register. 25 September 1946
  • USS Chiwawa earned two battle stars for World War II service
  • Merchant Service
    Sold by the Maritime Commission to Cities Service Oil Co., 23 June 1946, renamed SS Samoset
    Resold, 1 February 1947, to American Ship Building Corp., Lorain, OH.
    Rebuilt as a straight decked bulk freighter for Great Lakes service. renamed SS Chiwawa
    Resold, 14 July 1961, to Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co, renamed SS Walter A. Sterling
    Sold in 1985 to Ford Motor Company, renamed SS William Clay Ford (II)
    Sold in 1989 to Interlakes Steamship Co.'s subsidiary Lakes Shipping Co., renamed SS Lee A. Tregurtha
  • Current Status, in service on the Great Lakes
    AO Specifications:
    Displacement 5,650 t.(lt) 22,030 t.(fl)
    Length 501' 8"
    Beam 68'
    Draft 30' 8" (lim)
    Speed 15.3 kts. (trial)
    Officers 13
    Enlisted 200
    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 Capacity 15,200 DWT
    Oil 109,500 Bbls
    Gasoline 738,000 Gals
    Fuel Capacity NSFO 11,050 Bbls
    one Bethlehem geared turbine
    two Foster & Wheeler D-type boilers, 450psi 730°
    double Falk Main Reduction Gears
    two turbo-drive 300Kw 240V D.C. Ship's Service Generators
    single propeller. 7,000shp

    Bulk Freighter Specifications:
    Length 826'
    Draft 39'
    Cargo Capacity 29,300 tons
    Self-unloading boom 250'
    one steam turbine
    single propeller, 7,700shp

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Source
    USS Chiwawa (AO-68)
    Chiwawa 105k USS Chiwawa (AO-68) near the Norfolk Navy Yard, 31 January 1943.
    US National Archives, RG-19-LCM. Photo # 19-N-41898 or 41901 (estimated), a US Navy Bureau of Ships photo now in the collections of the US National Archives, courtesy
    Robert Hurst
    Chiwawa 119k USS Chiwawa (AO-68) under way, date and location unknown.
    US Navy photo, courtesy Auke Vissar's Famous T-Tanker Pages
    Robert Hurst
    Chiwawa 191k USS Chiwawa (AO-68) conducting an underway replenishment at sea in 1944. David Buell
    Chiwawa 210k
    Chiwawa 212k
    Chiwawa 299k USS Chiwawa (AO-68) under way, October 1944, location unknown.
    Photo by LTjg, Joseph A. Fernandez, Jr. USS Schmitt (APD-76)
    Peter Fernandez
    Chiwawa 299k USS Chiwawa (AO-68) at anchor, off Okinawa, 7 September 1945.
    US Navy photo.
    Contributed on behalf of James M. Jupena
    MM1/c USS Chiwawa 1943-1946
    LCI(L)-787 77k USS Chiwawa (AO-68) refueling USS LCI(L)-787, 24 October 1945. Photo by Donald Kronish Jon Strupp
    Merchant Service Cities Service Oil Co. Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co. Lakes Shipping Co.
    Chiwawa 35k Ex-USS Chiwawa (AO-68) under way while in merchant service as the Cities Service Oil Co. tanker SS Samoset
    Photo, courtesy Auke Vissar's Famous T-Tanker Pages
    Robert Hurst
    Chiwawa 52k
    Chiwawa 40k SS Walter A. Sterling under way as the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co. straight line bulk freighter on the Great Lakes, date and location unknown.
    Photo courtesy Auke Vissar's Famous T-Tanker Pages
    Robert Hurst
    Chiwawa 54k Lakes Shipping Co. Great Lakes bulk freighter SS Lee A. Tregurtha under way, date and location unknown. Great Lakes Fleet Photo Gallery
    Chiwawa 49k Lakes Shipping Co. Great Lakes bulk freighter SS Lee A. Tregurtha entering Lake Huron, 22 July 2007.
    Photo courtesy Auke Vissar's Famous T-Tanker Pages
    Robert Hurst
    Chiwawa 49k SS Lee A. Tregurtha heading down the Rouge River, 22 July 2007.
    Photo courtesy Auke Vissar's Famous T-Tanker Pages
    Robert Hurst
    Chiwawa 132k SS Lee A. Tregurtha leaving the upper harbor at Marquette, Michigan after loading iron ore, 3 July 2011.
    Photo taken by Steven Fine
    Robert Hurst
    Chiwawa 65k SS Lee A. Tregurtha under way on the Great Lakes, date and location unknown.
    Photo courtesy Auke Vissar's Famous T-Tanker Pages
    Robert Hurst
    Chiwawa 642k SS Lee A. Tregurtha under way off Marine City, in the St. Clair River MI., 17 June 2018. Photo by Jon A. Ottman

    USS Chiwawa (AO-68)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01CDR. Fultz, Harold Farnham, USN24 December 1942 - 9 July 1943 
    02LCDR. Goza, John Perry, USNR9 July 1943 - 16 June 1945
    03CAPT. Block, Albert Frederick16 June 1945 - 6 May 1946 
    Courtesy Jon Strupp, 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
    Great Lakes Fleet Photo Gallery
    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 24 May 2019