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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

USS Niobrara (T-AO-72)
USS Niobrara (AK-72) (1943 - 1956)

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

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - American Campaign Medal
Second Row - Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (4) - World War II Victory Medal
Third Row - Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp) - National Defense Service Medal - Philippines Liberation Medal (1)

Chiwawa Class Fleet Oiler:
  • Laid down, 29 June 1942, as SS Citadel, a Maritime Commission type (T3-S-A1) tanker hull under Maritime Commission contract, (MC hull 520) at Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding, Sparrows Point, MD.
  • Launched, 28 November 1942
  • Acquired by the Navy from the Maritime Commission, 13 March 1943
  • Commissioned USS Niobrara (AO-72), 13 March 1943, CDR. Theodore G. Haff in command
  • During World War II USS Niobrara was initially assigned to the Europe-Africa-Middle East Theater and later reassigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and participated in the following campaigns:

    Asiatic-Pacific Campaigns
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Marianas operation
    Capture and occupation of Saipan, 11 June to 10 August 1944
    Luzon operation
    Formosa attacks, 21 January 1945
    Nansei Shoto attack, 22 January 1945
    Western Caroline Islands operation
    Capture and occupation of southern Palau Islands, 1 to 14 October 1944
    Okinawa Gunto operation
    Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 24 March to 30 June 1945
    5th and 3d Fleet raids in support of Okinawa Gunto, 27 March to 4 May 1945

  • Following World War II USS Niobrara was assigned to Occupation service in the Far East from 2 September to 28 November 1945
  • Decommissioned, 24 September 1946
  • Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet Philadelphia, PA. Group
  • Recommissioned, 5 February 1951
  • Decommissioned, 30 November 1954, at San Diego, CA.
  • Laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet
  • Recommissioned, 14 December 1956, at San Francisco, CA. and assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS)
  • Decommissioned, 12 November 1957, at Galveston, TX.
  • Transferred to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Beaumont, TX., 5 December 1957
  • Title transfer to MARAD, 10 December 1958
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 1 February 1959
  • USS Niobrara earned four battle stars for World War II service
  • Disposed of by MARAD (Trade-out Exchange), 19 March 1982, to Farrell Lines Inc. in exchange for Export Banner together with three other vessels. Immediately resold to Echardt & Co. Marine GmbH., W. Germany corp for scrapping at Brownsville, TX.
  • Final Disposition, scrapped at Brownsville, TX, completed, 30 May 1982
    Displacement 5,708 t.(lt) 22,030 t.(fl)
    Length 501' 8"
    Beam 68'
    Draft 30' 8"
    Speed 15.3 kts.
    Officers 23
    Enlisted 224
    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
    six twin 20mm AA gun mounts
    Cargo Capacity 15,200 DWT
    Oil 109,500 Bbls
    Gasoline 16,400 Gals.
    Fuel Capacity
    NSFO 11,050 Bbls
    one Bethlehem Shipbuilding geared turbine
    two Foster-Wheeler D-type boilers, 450psi 730@deg
    double Falk Main Reduction Gears
    three 300Kw 240V D.C. Ship's Service Generators
    single propeller. 7,000shp

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Source
    USS Niobrara (AO-72)
    US National Archives, RG-19-LCM. Photo # Unknown
    137k USS Niobrara (AO-72) near Hampton Roads, VA., 16 March 1943. Note she is passing the Hampton Roads lightship.
    US National Archives, RG-19-LCM. Photo # Unknown, a US Navy Bureau of Ships photo now in the collections of the US National Archives, and
    U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command. Photo # 80-G-63516, courtesy
    Robert Hurst
    U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command. Photo # 80-G-63516
    Niobrara 89k USS Niobrara (AO-72) under way, date and location unknown.
    US Navy Photo, courtesy Auke Vissar's Famous T-Tanker Pages
    Robert Hurst
    Niobrara 73k Aerial view of USS Niobrara (AO-72) under way, 14 April 1943, location unknown. Stan Svec
    Niobrara 109k USS Niobrara (AO-72) off Norfolk Navy Yard, 18 April 1944. A large 160-ton derrick has been added amidships to lift LCT's on and off of LST's at advance bases.
    US National Archives, RG-19-LCM. Photo # 19-N-64643 or 64645, a US Navy Bureau of Ships photo now in the collections of the US National Archvies, courtesy
    Robert Hurst
    Niobrara 65k USS Niobrara (AO-72) at her mooring in the lagoon at Eniwetok, 10 August 1944. Note the lifting device on her starboard side. Her camouflage is Measure 32 Design 5AO. Photo from the Dwight Spayth collection, taken from USS Ringgold (DD-500) John Chiquoine
    Niobrara 890k USS Niobrara (AO-72) under way, probably at New York, date unknown Gary J. Strouse for his father James G. Strouse Y1/c USS Niobrara

    USS Niobrara (AO-72)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01CDR. Haff, Theodore Germond13 March 1943 - 4 September 1943
    02CDR. Marts, Jr., John William4 September 1943 - 9 July 1944
    03CDR. Spaulding, Ralph Carter9 July 1944 - ?
     Decommissioned24 September 1946 - 5 February 1951
     Decommissioned30 November 1954 - ?
    04CDR. Meiere, Joseph William, USN1957 - 12 November 1957
    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 15 January 2021