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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

USS Escalante (AO-70)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - Whiskey - Papa - Golf
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 (1)
Second Row - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (4) - World War II Victory Medal - Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp)

Chiwawa Class Fleet Oiler:
  • Laid down, 20 May 1942, as SS Shabone, a Maritime Commission type (T2-SE-A1) tanker hull, under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 518) at Bethlehem Sparrow's Point Shipyard, Inc., Sparrow's Point, MD.
  • Launched, 29 September 1942
  • Acquired by the USS Navy and Commissioned USS Escalante (AO-70), 30 January 1943, LCDR. C. L. Bolton, USNR, in command
  • During World War II USS Escalante (AO-70) was assigned to both the Europe-Africa-Middle East and Asiatic-Pacific Theaters and participated in the following action/campaigns:

    Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign

    Asiatic-Pacific Campaign
    Convoy UGS-36, April 1944 Luzon operation
    Formosa attacks, 9 and 21 January 1945
    China Coast attacks, 16 January 1945
    Nansei Shoto attack, 22 January 1945
      Iwo Jima operation
    Assault and occupation of Iwo Jima, 23 February to 3 March 1945
      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 operation, 26 March to 1 June 1945
      3rd Fleet operations against Japan, 17 July to 3 August 1945

  • Decommissioned, 12 December 1945 at San Francisco, CA.
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 3 January 1946
  • USS Escalante (AO-70) earned five battle stars for World War II service
  • Returned to the Maritime Commission, 27 June 1946, for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River Group, Lee Hall, VA.
  • Sold to Sinclair Refining Co., 9 December 1946 for $1, 465,015, renamed SS George MacDonald
  • Final Disposition, foundered, 30 June 1960, approximately 165 miles east of Savannah, GA.
    Displacement 5,650 t.(lt) 22,030t.(fl)
    Length 501' 8"
    Beam 68'
    Draft 30' 8"
    Speed 15.3 kts (trial)
    Officers 22
    Enlisted 192
    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 15,200DWT
    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

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    Size Image Description Source
    USS Escalante (AO-70)
    Escalante 25k USS Escalante (AO-70) under way, date and location unknown. Hyperwar US Navy in WWII
    Escalante 30k USS Escalante (AO-70) under way, date and location unknown. Hyperwar US Navy in WWII
    Escalante 190k USS Escalante (AO-70) under way, date and location unknown.
    US Navy photo
    Jim Kurrasch
    Battleship Iowa Pacific Battleship Center
    263k USS Escalante (AO-70) alongside USS Wisconsin (BB-64) in 1944, location unknown.
    US National Archives photo # 80-G-393072, a US Navy now in the collections of the US National Archives.
    Rick Davis
    Escalante 105k USS Platte (AO-24) is topping off from USS Escalante (AO-70) in the main fleet train formation, TF30.8, 2 August 1945. USS Mitchell (DE-43) is in utility and ferry duty and in a couple hours would escort Escalante and USS Thetis Bay (CVE-90) back to Ulithi to relay another load.
    Photo by George Silk, Life Magazine, aboard Thetis Bay. Used for educational and non-commercial purpose.
    John Chiquoine
    Merchant Service Sinclair Refining Co.
    Escalante 74k Sinclair Refining Co. tanker SS George MacDonald (ex-USS Escalante (AO-70) at anchor, date and location unknown.
    Photo courtesy Auke Visser's Famous T - Tankers Pages.
    Robert Hurst
    Escalante 74k The crippled tanker SS George MacDonald (ex-USS Escalante (AO-70)), 28 June 1960, under tow through calm seas about 150 miles east of Savannah, GA. by her sister ship SS J.E. Dyer, headed toward Charleston S.C., approximately 90 miles away. The towline parted and and George MacDonald sank, 30 June.
    AP Wire Photo, courtesy Auke Visser's Famous T - Tankers Pages.
    Robert Hurst

    USS Escalante (AO-70)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    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
    Report of US Coast Guard Inquiry into the sinking of SS George MacDonald
    Fulton County Newspapers - Tonawanda News, 28 June 1960, article

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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 26 March 2021