USS TAMALPAIS AO-96
Was Launched by Marinship Corporation on October 29, 1944

The Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railroad, known as “the crookedest railroad in the world,” was constructed in 1896; it brought passengers from Mill Valley to the summit via 281 curves. Atop Mt. Tam, the Tavern of Tamalpais welcomed diners and dancers. TAMALPAIS CREEK is, a tributary of Coyote Creek which flows from the area into the bay north of Sausalito. Bay Area walkers and visitors from around the world have enjoyed rambling the slopes of Mount Tamalpais. Glorious panoramas of the Pacific coastline and San Francisco Bay were attracting walkers to the mountain top well before Mt. Tam was preserved as a state park in 1928.  See "The Old Ways in the Land of Tamalpais".

Tamalpais creek is on chart of page 173 of "Streams of the San Francisco Estuary”

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Escambia class Fleet Oiler: Length: 523'6"; Beam: 68'; Draft: 30'  Marine Commission T2-SE-A2 type Speed: 15.5 knots (max.); 13 knots (econ). Complement: 267
Capacity: 140,000 barrels; Turbo-electric engines, single screw, 8,000 hp Armament: 1 5"/38 DP, 4 3"/50 DP, 4x2 40mm, 4x2 20mm

A model of this ship exists in the lower corridors at the Defense Logistics Agency in Fort Belvoir, VA.
MARINSHIP Corporation was built on a marsh area just inside San Francisco Bay at Sausalito.  Some 30,000 pilings were put down to support the shipyard. Within 90 days of the ending  of the Pacific War it had been totally dismantled.  Only the large administrative building still exists. Today the area is covered with condos and is a yacht basin.


The Navy commissioned the ship on May 20, 1945.  James E. (Gene) Leavelle, Radioman 3/C  USNR-V6 1944-4946 was assigned aboard the ship on May 23, 1945 and served until June 13, 1946. 

The ship was decommissioned at Mobile, Alabama on June 23, 1946.  It was taken out of the mothball fleet on two different occasions (Korean War & Vietnam War) and placed back in Navy service.  Sometimes it was manned by civilian crews.  At other times it was manned by Navy crews.  TAMALPAIS crew members have never been able to find anyone who served on the ship after it was placed back in service in 1951.  The fate of the ship is UNKNOWN.  If you should ever come across any information that reveals its ultimate disposition, The reunion group would appreciate your sharing the information.




DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY (DLA)
Fort Belvoir, Virginia



Joan (Jay) Williams stands by the USS TAMALPAIS AO-96 display she is in charge of. A board is included, full of photos of the launching of the ship in October 1944 as well as a copy of the SHIP’S HISTORY.

Jay sent the photo below to Vern as he was gathering information about the creation of a model ship for the Neosho Class Oiler.



These two photos were taken by a photographer at Fort Belvoir that came over to get pictures of the WWII Veterans on their visit
to the Tamalpais model on June 1, 2006.  
  Gene Leavelle, the one in the white cap, is the ships historian.
   





While Vern was talking to Gene on April 2nd, the subject of how different the ship's heads were during WWII. Well, Gene said, where there were many, many men on a ship, out-rigged comfort stations were placed over the side.


On the
Tamalpais crew tour of SS Lane Victory  in September of 2005, he was able to take the photo at right. The SS Lane Victory is a working museum in San Pedro, CA, run by former Merchant Mariners.



Note to Vern; August 15, 2011

The AO-96 was equipped to do UNREPs at sea.  As our cargo was potable water we did several transfers of water at sea before the war in the Pacific ended.  Our mission was mostly ferrying water cargos as we did not have equipment to convert sea water to drinking water.  The AWs did that.  We ferried several cargos of water to other ships for distribution.  Our contact was mostly with small craft and hospital ships.  While offshore the Japanese Empire with the Third Fleet in August 1945, we made several transfers of navy oil to destroyers or destroyer escorts that fell back off line for emergency replenishment of fuel.  Those emergency transfers came from our own navy oil supply tank.  As a result, having made the emergency transfers, we then had to fall out of convoy the next day in order to replenish our own navy oil supply..

We are presently down to 50+ men known to be still alive out of a complement of some 400+ enlisted men and officers. We were only at sea for 13 months during WW II.   Of those, only less than a hand full now attend reunions. The minimum age of the group is now at 85 years with many suffering from health issues.  I believe the reunion this coming October 2011 at Branson, MO will be our last one.  We have been losing men heavily over the last five years. Of those remaining alive, while a few were assigned work in the deck divisions, I do not believe any of them worked UNREPs.  So I do not believe I have anyone that can help the curators of the two different carriers.  Of the 400+ men, we successfully located about 50%.  The VA helped us with a number of persons that were deceased at the time.

I only learned recently the fate of the TAMALPAIS.  It has been converted along with another ship to an electric power platform to supply electric power to an Army base in Vietnam.  When it was finally pulled off line, the ship was sold as scrap  at Nha Trang Vietnam, to the China dismantled Vessel Trading Corp, Ltd. in Taipei, Taiwan. View the  RECORD OF SALE BELOW.  I have been told that the ship’s boiler was operated at maximum capacity until the boiler finally failed or gave out.  The heat during that time in the boiler room was atrocious with many steam leaks.  What a way to go!

Other information – In July, 2011,  I was at a Round Rock Express Baseball game (Class AAA) where a number of ENTERPRISE veterans were present as they were attending a ship’s reunion in Austin, Texas.  It was announced that this was the LAST reunion for that carrier.  The men were given a standing ovation by the crowd.  To me, that was very interesting as the carrier had a much larger complement of men than the fleet oiler.     Gene Leavelle


This is a copy of the RECORD OF SHIP SALES as the ship was sold for scrap on September 9, 1974.
It was advertised for sale on August 15, 1974 and sold on September 9, 1974 for scrap for the amount of $431,2004.

. Gene Leavelle  found thisout in October 2009 by accident. A website had posted the info and I checked to find out where they
got their information. The Maritime Commission had posted the sale on their website.
He was fortunate to be able to make a copy of the bill of sale before they took the information down.

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