Our Navy’s Ship of the Month - September 1962

USS TRUCKEE

                The Navy becomes more and more complicated, the weapons more and sophisticated.  We speak of terrier firing destroyer leaders, of missile cruisers and aircraft carriers with unlimited endurance at sea.  And yet no matter how unlimited this endurance is theoretically, these ships still depend on the Service force.

                The USS Truckee, AO 147, was no less important to the Cuban Quarantine than the magnificent Enterprise CVAN-65.

                Through out the crises Truckee delivered the juice necessary to fire the carrier's main battery.  She is a service force ship- maybe not as glamorous as some- but no matter how glamorous a jet aircraft may be, it is only so much metal until its tanks are full of fuel.

                It is from Truckee’s tanks that these are fueled.  It is from her deck cargo that worn out engines are replaced.  And from other tanks that lubricants are supplied.

                Drawing more that thirty five feet when loaded, her cargo is indispensable.  For without Truckee and ships like her, prolonged operation by ships of the United States fleets would be impossible.

                Glamorous, possibly not, but how many other ships can boast a Gold “E”.  She painted her’s on this year after winning the fifth consecutive Battle Efficiency Award.  She is the first Service Force Atlantic Fleet ship ever to win this coveted award.  In addition Truckee was awarded the Communications Green “C” and the Combat Information Center Green “E” for outstanding performance in those categories.  Earlier in the year the Supply Department received her second consecutive General Mess Award Plaque for having the finest general mess of all SERVLANT AO-143 Class oilers which in indicative of the outstanding food service on board.

                But most important of all, this year she received her greatest honor.  Competing against approximately eighty ships, Truckee alone has been nominated for the Atlantic Fleet Service Force Marjorie Sterrette Battleship Award.

                Truckee, one of the Navy’s newest, fastest and largest fleet oilers, was built in the Camden, New Jersey Yards of the New York Ship-building Corporation, and outfitted and commissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 23 November 1955.  Incorporated in her design are many features which were proven to be necessary by trial and error during the Second World War and the Korean conflict.  These improvements enable her to keep the fighting fleet adequately supplied to carry out its mission.

                A fleet oiler’s primary mission is the complete underway replenishment of petroleum products to ships at sea; Truckee has proven that she can do this and much more.  She is capable of transferring heavy freight including jet engines, personnel, mail, stores at sea under conditions that at one time were considered impractical if not impossible.

                Truckee, named after the Truckee River in Western Nevada and Eastern California, is 655 feet long, 86 feet wide, and displaces 38,000 tons when loaded.  She is able to maintain a speed of 20 knots indefinitely.  Truckee carries approximately nine million gallons of various types of fuel: black oil, jet fuel, and aviation gasoline.  She can transfer approximately 10,000 gallons of fuel per minute while fueling ships on both sides.

                Truckee is armed with six twin 3” 50 caliber rapid fire radar controlled mounts, mainly for self protection.  She is capable of carrying and Underway Replenishment Group Staff which she did during the entire Cuban Crisis.  Of much assistance when such a staff is embarked is the helicopter platform capable of carrying one helicopter.  The embarked helicopter assists greatly in personnel and mail transfers, as well as in conducting surveillance of unidentified shipping.

                Fueling at sea can be a very dangerous operation, particularly in heavy seas.  The older types of fleet oilers require men to be on the main deck, making it hazardous for men topside.  In Truckee and her five sister ships, all fueling can be accomplished from above the main deck thus reducing the danger considerably.

                The Medical Department of Truckee is designed not only for her own personnel, but for services to the other ships of the fleet.  Her facilities include an operating room, treatment room, laboratory, and dental facilities.  There are two wards which can accommodate a total of 36 bed patients.  During normal operation a Chief Hospitalman is in charge, but during an emergency a doctor and dentist would be assigned.  Under the latter conditions she can serve as a small hospital ship.

                Administratively Truckee is assigned to Commander Service Force Atlantic.  Operationally she is normally a part of the Second Fleet.  After these Commands she supports the fleet in maintaining exercises and in contingency operation, particularly she is deployed to the Mediterranean area.  When so deployed she is assigned flagship for Commander Service Force, Sixth Fleet.

                During the past winter Truckee had the pleasure of demonstrating fueling at sea to the prospective Commanding Officer of the Canadian Navy’s first oiler which will soon be commissioned.  The prospective Engineering Officer and Main Propulsion Assistant also were witnesses of the demonstrations.

                Some of the Truckee’s most recent operations include a Sixth Fleet deployment from February-July 1962; Caribbean deployment during the Cuban Crisis from October to December 1962; and a NATO exercise in the North Atlantic with the Canadian Navy.

                Truckee is believed to have set the peacetime record for numbers of ships fueled during a single year.  During the calendar year of 1962, she fueled 457 ships, 152 of which occurred during a period of fifty days and almost constant streaming in support of the Cuban Quarantine Operations.  Commander Service Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet, in a letter of appreciation to the Officers and men of Truckee, commented on her efficiency as follows:

                “While serving as flagship for Commander Service Squadron Four and operating in the Caribbean in support of the Cuban Quarantine Operations during October-December 1962, Truckee engaged in fueling of units of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet on a most demanding schedule.  The tempo of operations was characterized by a 24-hour period of which Truckee fueled and consolidated for a period of 23 hours.  In addition to sustaining and arduous tempo of replenishment operations though out the Quarantine period, Truckee’s performance was highlighted by the highline transfer of 165 personnel to the U.S. S.  Enterprise in a single day, the transfer of 93 long tons of Fleet freight during a two day period to ships of the task force, (freight varying from electronic tubes to jet aircraft engines), and receipt and delivery of 716 bags of mail in a single day.  These examples of versatility and hard work are characteristic of the outstanding performance of Truckee during the critical Quarantine period.”

                Though the year, Truckee engages in many sports and a great number of the crew are able to participate.  The Truckee softball team reached the semi-finals in the annual SERVLANT Tournament after having a very successful season.  Her volleyball team won runner-up position in the annual SERVLANT tournament this winter.  Other sports in which Truckee personnel participate extensively include bowling, touch football and basketball.  During deployments to the Mediterranean her teams played other ships of the Sixth Fleet, and when possible, local teams in Naples and Beirut.  During her seven and one-half years of commissioned service Truckee has earned a proud name.  The ship was built well, and has very modern equipment, but her officers and enlisted men are the major factors.  Truckee to date has had eight commanding officers and probably 1000 other officers and enlisted men.  They have passed on spirit and enthusiasm that has been characteristic of Truckee.

                On August 29 Captain P. T. Glennon, USN was relieved as commanding officer of Truckee after what he described as one of the most exciting and fulfilling tours of his career.  Captain C.J. Zurcher, USN will take Truckee to sea when he completes a shipyard overhaul in New York.

                Currently Truckee is completing a shipyard in New York.  When completed, she expects to be even more ready than in the past to fuel other units of the fleet.  In Truckee, Romeo is always close up, she is always ready to receive another ship alongside for fueling.

Submitted by  Buck Holland SK2, 1960-1964

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