USS Mississinewa AO-144  -   has a predecessor

The AO-59 Memorial

It had only been in service for six months  when it was sunk on Nov. 20, 1944

style="color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"> The Fleet Tug, USS Munsee ATF-107 was the first to aid the Missy

It has been located to seal off oil leaks

Ulithi , atoll comprising 40 islets, 1.75 sq mi (4.53 sq km), W Pacific, in the W Caroline Islands. Ulithi is part of the Federated States of Micronesia; Mokomok is the chief village. The atoll became (1920) part of the Japanese mandate in the Pacific and was strongly fortified. The main atoll has an excellent lagoon for anchoring large ships, and after the American capture (1944) of Ulithi in World War II, it was used as a rendezvous station for naval units.

Germany purchased the islands from Spain in 1898. They were occupied (1914) by Japan, which received them (1920) as a League of Nations mandate. During World War II, U.S. forces captured the islands, and in 1947 they became part of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. In 1979, as negotiations for termination of the trusteeship continued, they became self-governing as the Federated States of Micronesia. In 1986, they assumed free-association status with the United States. Leo A. Falcam became president in 1999.

In the Ulithi Atoll, an anchorage lagoon large enough for the whole Pacific fleet, a japanese kaiten hit the ship in the forward aviation fuel tank, which contained 440,000 gallons of fuel. When it blew the heavy oil used to refuel ships started to burn. As a result, the ship sank in only two hours.

For many months Ulithi was the keyspot in the Pacific. An atoll some 350 miles southwest of Guam in the Western Caroline Islands. Ulithi probably isn't even on your map of the Pacific---it's that small. It's made up of groups of islands with names like MogMog, Asor, Sorlen, Fassarai and even now it shows no scars of battle. When we took the Marianas and Peleliu, the Japs abandoned Ulithi as worthless and withdrew to Yap. The Japs were convinced that none of the islands could support an airfield. In fact, they were sold on the idea that Ulithi was worthless so we moved in without a struggle. This was the secret Pacific base you occasionally heard discussed...........correspondent on Guam
An other story.....................from The Sun Chronicle

My dad was in his bunk when he heard the first explosion. He was knocked to the floor, and when he got up all he saw around him was fire. He escaped up a ladder to the boat deck as the flames grew around him.
<>The U.S.S. Munsee, ATF-107 sounded General Quarters at 5:50  a.m. The ATF-107 was anchored about 2 miles off the AO-59’s starboard bow. By 6:20 a.m. they reached the Mississinewa  as it was engulfed in a column of smoke and flames. A light drizzle of oil globules came down, covering everything the sailors touched as we approached the AO-59. Before the last flames were extinguished Sid would take 37 photo-graphs of the heroic effort to save the Mississinewa. The Munsee was the first tug to reach the Mississinewa. Because the dense smoke completely obstructing the port side of the AO-59, the Munsee was forced to come around the stern where the wind helped to reveal the burning ship. Drums of gasoline, machine oil, 20 mm  ammunition along with shells from the 5” 38 gun were exploding. Suddenly, blazing oil came gushing around the bow of the tanker toward the ATF-107. The wind continued to blow the burning oil <>
<>toward and then around the stern of the ATF-107. The other tugs backed away while the ATF-107 stayed against the AO-59 hull. After a moment the ATF-107 was trapped, surrounded by the flames, unable to see anything through the dense smoke. The other tugs which had backed away were now fighting the fire on the water behind them so that the ATF-107 could continue to concentrate on fighting the fire on the AO-59.

From Newsletters, Volume 2 - Spring of 2000 - AO-59

Maiden Voyage

In 1944 my father, Earl T. Givens was just 17 years old. He asked his mother to sign for him to join the Navy and she agreed. In June of that year, he was assigned to the brand new oil tanker USS Mississinewa (AO-59). On Nov. 20, 1944, at Ulithi Atoll, the Mississinewa was sunk by a secret Japanese suicide weapon called a "kaiten" (Note: In a desperate attempt to turn the tide of the war in the Pacific, the Japanese military first formulated and implemented suicide aircraft attacks––the kamikazes––in late 1944. Japan soon expanded this tactic using other weapons systems. Notable among these was the kaiten "Turning of the Heavens" suicide submarine. Basically, the kaiten was a standard Japanese Type-93 torpedo. The mid-section was elongated to make room for a pilot who sat in a canvas chair practically on the deck of the weapon. Located in front of him was a crude periscope; the necessary controls were also close at-hand. The nose assembly was packed with 3,000 lbs. of high explosives, and the tail section contained the propulsion unit)

Once on the deck, he saw the oil on fire in the water around the ship, but he knew his only chance for escape was to jump 30 feet into the fiery sea below. He swam beneath the flames and when he came up for air, he saw another ship harbored several hundred yards away.

He swam to the ship and caught hold of the anchor chain. Covered with oil and suffering from burns to his back and legs, he held on until someone from the deck above looked down and saw him. A group of sailors pulled him aboard and began cleaning and dressing his wounds. In all, there were 60 sailors, three officers, and 57 enlisted men who died that day aboard the Mississinewa. Most of the survivors feel their escape was nothing short of a miracle.

L.W. Antoine
I joined the Navy at age 16 during World War Two and quickly was sent to sea. By the time the war with Japan ended, I had gone
from being a naïve mid-western kid to a world-wise battle veteran at age 19. So did a whole lot of us who were born in the first quarter
of this century, Americans, British, Japanese, and many others of numerous nationalities. We grew up in a hurry! 



The final moment

The other fires are from oil on the water. 

Mississinewa Located
On April 6, 2001 at 12:10 pm in Ulithi Lagoon,  the 553-foot USS Mississinewa AO-59 was located. It  was the only American naval ship sunk by a kaiten, a  one-man Japanese suicide submarine. On their first dive, an independent team of three divers from the  San Francisco Bay Area, found it.  Since WWII, the ship's exact position has been in  question, despite numerous prior attempts by both  American and Japanese dive groups to find the wreck. James P. Delgado, Director of the Vancouver, B. C.,  Maritime Museum, and an expert on Japanese  midget submarines, has described the lost USS Mississinewa as "the last great unsolved WWII Pacific sinking."
Your host, Vern,

had two Uncle's pass through the Ulithi Atoll  in spring of 1945, four months after AO-59 sank.
Linn Sheckler Jr. RD, was on the USS Adair APA-91, carrying troops to Okinawa on March 26,27,28, 1945. 

Just six weeks later, May 14-23,  his brother Earl Lickley MM1
passed through on the USS Shangri-la CV38.

See USS. Mississinewa AO-144 being scrapped

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