Year Built
Official Number
Ship Yard
New York Shipbuilding Corp
General Type
Specific Type
Tanker (Liquid Bulk)
Ship Length
655.0 feet
86.00 feet
Mast Height
Net Tons
11422 tons
Gross Tons
19240 tons
Cargo Capacity
Draft, Summer
35.00 tons
Draft, Lightweight
Displacement, Summer
36251 tons
Displacement, Lightweight
9400 tons
Immersion, Summer
Immersion, Lightweight

Historical Narrative

USS Ponchatoula, the sixth tanker in the Neosho-class of fleet oilers, was laid down in Camden, New Jersey, by the New York Shipbuilding Corp. on March 1, 1954. The ship was launched on July 9, 1954 and it was commissioned on January 12, 1956. 

Although Ponchatoula was a support vessel rather than a combat ship, it came equipped with two five-inch guns and 12 rapid-fire three-inch anti-aircraft guns mounted in several gun tubs.  

Ponchatoula had a very long and distinguished career.  In addition to serving the majority of its career in Southeast Asia, from 1963 through 1967, it assisted in a number of historic recovery operations for the Projects Mercury and Gemini spaceflights.  During the spring of 1966, Ponchatoula set a Navy record by refueling hundreds of vessels. 

Although Ponchatoula continued to serve successfully in the Western Pacific, newer and more modern fleet oilers were being added to the Navy's Pacific Fleet.  After 43 years of service, Ponchatoula was removed from the Navy's active duty fleet on August 31, 1992, after having been berthed at the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet that April.. 

On May 1, 1999, the Navy transferred ownership the ship to the Maritime Administration.  It remains at Suisun Bay.

Naval History and Heritage Command Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships entry on USS Ponchatoula.

Historical Documents

No documents for this vessel


Event: Entry
Date: 4/2/1992

Vessel entered Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet
Event: Acquisition
Date: 5/1/1999

US Navy transferred title to MARAD
Event: Cleared Historic Review
Date: 6/21/2005

California SHPO cleared the ship for disposal on this date.

Ship Imagery

Status Cards


No documents for this vessel