Welcome Aboard!

An Introduction to the

USS Manatee (AO-58)

Open House at Long Beach, California

27-28 JAN 1962

Welcome aboard shipmate! We hope that your brief stay with us on the MANATEE will help you to better understand the mission of your Navy and how it functions to maintain its high degree of readiness. In line with our traditional national policy, the prime objective of the Navy is to ensure that our land is spared the ghastly horrors of war. Since World War II, however, this national responsibility has become international in scope so that it currently includes the defense of the entire Free World from militant communism. Simultaneously the responsibility of the Navy has increased to gigantic proportions. In the past decade we have seen US Navy ships actively participating in the Korean conflict, the Formosa crisis, the Lebanese crisis, and most recently the Laotian crisis. In order to meet these ever-enlarging demands, the Navy since World War II has had to shift its emphasis from overwhelming destructive power as symbolized in the battleship to the mobility and versatility of the carrier task force. Along with this change in emphasis has come the requirement that the Navy become equally balanced in its offensive and defensive characteristics. Indicative of the former is the recent development of our missle capabilities - the Polaris submarine and the Talos cruiser. Symbolizing the latter are the Navy's Anti-submarine tactics and the underwater sound surveillance system.

Within the context of greater reliance on mobility and versatility the oiler has a very vital role. Because of her ability to transfer fuel underway, the oiler provides logistic support to the Navy's combatant ships - carriers, cruisers, and destroyers. This enables them to remain at sea for extended periods of time in a ready status for battle. For instance, during the MANATEE's previous West Pac cruise the Laotian crisis erupted. Many Seventh Fleet ships were directed to proceed to the waters off the coast of North Vietnam. The MANATEE was one of those ships. Her presence enabled two carrier task groups and an amphibious task group to remain on station in a completely ready status to extinguish any brush fire that might arise.

The USS MANATEE (AO-58), commanded by Captain H. J. Trum, USN, is one of a group of war-tried fleet oilers built for the Navy by the Bethlehem Steel Ship Building Company at Sparrows Point, Baltimore, Maryland, and named for a river in Florida. She is expressly designed for fueling ships at sea. She is 553 feet long and 75 feet wide. Her power plant is built around four steam turbines which, coupled with her twin-screw propulsion, gives her both the speed and the mobility necessary to operate with the fast carrier task forces that are the nucleus of the Modern Navy. In her spacious tanks, (26 in number) she carries a most vital product - fuel - some 5 million gallons consisting of the following products and percentages of total cargo carried: Navy Special Fuel Oil (NSFO), 75%; Aviation Gas (AVGAS), 10% and Jet Fuel, (JP-5) 15%.

Having both port and starboard transfer rigs, the MANATEE is capable of refueling at least two ships simultaneously. The normal replenishment situation finds one carrier or cruiser to port and one destroyer to starboard. It was while conducting underway replenishment exercises during World War II that MANATEE and her sister ships were revealed by Admiral Nimitz to be one of the principle "secret weapons" contributing to the success of the United States in the war.

Briefly her history is as follows:

Commissioned at Baltimore on 06 APR 1944, the MANATEE entered World War II in the Eniwetok conflict and saw extensive action for the remainder of the war. Shortly after the termination of hostilities, she was converted to an MSTS vessel. Her most commemorative event while serving in this capacity was an around-the-world cruise starting and ending at Long Beach. During the Korean War there was a shortage of oilers and thus the MANATEE was reconverted to a fleet oiler. Since the cessation of the Korean conflict and throughout the Cold War years, the MANATEE, along with many other Pacific Fleet ships, has been rotating between the Western Pacific and the Continental United States. Frequent underway replenishment exercises keep the crews of both the oiler and the combatant ships in a high state of training and readiness. Not withstanding the high degree of readiness, the mere presence and latent potential of ships like the MANATEE present to the communist bloc a formidable deterrent to any military acts of agression. In this way, the MANATEE participates in the two all important tasks facing the Pacific Fleet - immediately that task is the defense of the United States from a militant communism and ultimately it is the survival of the Free World.


In 1959 Shipmate Jim Osenton graduated from Fresno State University and took a job in Huntington Park, CA near Los Angeles. In 1962 he saw a small notice in a newspaper that said that a Navy ship was having an open house... the MANATEE. Jim and his wife (8 1/2 months pregnant) and his 2 year old son attended the affair. He says that they wouldn't let him see much. They passed out several handouts (reproduced here) which he put in his old seabag, having more immediate concerns. In 1995 he found the handouts in an old box but they were so yellowed as to be hardly readable. He retyped them at the time and was good enough to forward them to me to include here.