Photo from MidwayJoe Collection
A large Neosho class oiler the USS Hassayampa AO-145 in rough seas off Formosa 23 Oct 1958.
The wind was up to 50 knots and the waves were 30 feet high. One refueling hose broke right
away causing about 500 gallons to be lost into the sea. In this photo Hassayampa had just
broken off from trying to refuel the USS Midway. The Midway was also taking water almost
continuously over the flight deck. A man was washed overboard off the oiler but was picked up
OK by the Midway helicopter. As anyone who has manned a refueling station knows, it is long,
hard and dangerous work. Even in calm seas, the wash from an aircraft carrier carries back to
the other ship and with low freeboard like a tanker or a destroyer, many men get washed
around and some end up in the sea. The two ships are locked together by the refueling hoses
and cannot maneuver to pick up anyone in the water so the helicopter or a following destroyer
usually effects the rescue. Note: In this photo there are no top outrigger booms on the after
mast assembly like there are on later Neosho class oilers such as the Ponchatoula AO-148. I
don't know if these were included on the later ships of this class or they were added on and
Hassayampa doesn't have hers yet. On 01 May 1999 the Hassayampa was transferred to the
Maritime Administration's Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet at Benecia, CA.