U.S.S. Genesee AOG-8 (Tanker)
U.S.S. Genesee was built in Savage, MN, by Cargill, and commissioned into the Navy on May 27, 1944. Built for the purpose of delivering diesel fuel and gasoline to advance units and bases, Genesee distinguished itself by completing the highly dangerous service during World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War. It also provided valuable service to the nation during the intervening times of relative peace.
Genesee’s career began in the summer of 1944, transporting high octane aviation gasoline to air bases in the Caribbean. By mid-summer, the ship was in Pearl Harbor, from whence it transported aviation fuel and diesel oil to islands in the western Pacific. Genesee entered Tokyo Bay in September of 1945, carrying motor fuel and diesel oil, and remained in Japanese waters, transporting fuel to several ports, until the winter. In January 1946 it returned to the United States, visiting Long Beach.
During the remainder of the decade, Genesee continued operations throughout the Pacific, ferrying its volatile cargoes to ports in China, Korea, and Alaska without mishap. Decommissioning in San Francisco in late 1949, Genesee entered the mothball fleet until the action in Korea necessitated its recall to service.
Serving in the Pacific throughout the Korean Conflict, Genesee carried fuel to support air, ground and aviation needs, now adding high octane jet fuel to the dangerous loads it routinely carried. The ship remained in Korean waters supporting the second Korean winter campaign in 1952, earning a battle star to the one awarded for its service in World War II. After the Korean Conflict, the ship remained in the Pacific, shifting homeports several times, until finally entering the shipyard at Pearl Harbor for a much-needed overhaul in late 1964.
As American involvement in Vietnam escalated, the need for multiple types of fuel in the Southwest Pacific increased proportionally. Genesee first visited the war zone in 1965, contributing significantly to the expansion of military bases at Da Nang, not only by delivering fuel but by supporting construction using its equipment to pump over two million gallons of salt water during construction of the air base there.
After repairs and upkeep, Genesee returned to Vietnam in the ensuing two years, providing support to the American expansion of men and material. For service in Vietnam, Genesee was awarded five campaign ribbons.
Genesee was stricken from the Naval Register in 1972 and transferred to Chile, for which the tanker served another twenty years.
Asbestos Exposure on U.S.S. Genesee
The need to contain and control fires on any ship is pressing; the urgency of doing so on a ship built to carry highly flammable fuels is obvious. During its construction Genesee’s builder, Cargill Incorporated, had long experience with the use of asbestos. Like all shipbuilders of the time, Cargill used asbestos as an insulator of pipes and electrical connections, in gaskets and seals, and in engine rooms and turbines.
Although Genesee was powered by diesel engines, rather than by asbestos lined steam boilers, asbestos-containing materials proliferated throughout the ship. The maze of piping required to allow the ship to move fuel safely contained insulation manufactured using asbestos, as did other piping used to support the ship’s operation. Tiles and insulating liners between decks and on bulkheads likely contained asbestos as well.
Genesee completed its service for the US Navy prior to the commencement of serious asbestos abatement activities.