NAMED for the capital of Virginia, the first Esso Richmond was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and launched at Newport News, Va., on September 29, 1939. On April 20, 1940 she became the fourth National Defense Features tanker to be delivered to the Company, which operated her until October 22 of the same year.
She was then sold to the U. S. Maritime Commission for acquisition by the U. S. Navy, which renamed her the USS Kaskaskia.
During her short career under Company operation, the Esso Richmond competed 12 round trips to Gulf Coast ports, and one to Aruba, in the Caribbean Sea. Of her 12 Gulf cargoes, 9 were crude oil and 3 mixed products. In slightly over six months of merchant service, the Esso Richmond steamed 50,101 sea miles in 4 months, 11 days, and 3 hours, and transported petroleum products amounting to a total of 1,609,772 barrels.
A twin-screw vessel of 18,340 deadweight tons capacity on international summer draft of 31 feet, 8 inches, the former SS Esso Richmond has an overall length of 553 feet, a length between perpendiculars of 525 feet, a moulded breadth of 75 feet, and a depth moulded of 39 feet, with a cargo carrying capacity of 146,024 barrels, the tanker's assigned pumping rate is 8,000 barrels an hour.
Her turbine engines, supplied with steam by four watertube boilers, give the vessel 13,500 shaft horsepower and an average speed, loaded, of 18 knots.
Her sister ships were the Esso Raleigh (I), which later became the USS Guadalupe, and the Esso Columbia (1), which later became the USS Salamonie.
While operated by the Company, the Esso Richmond was commanded by Captains Lester S. McKenzie and Frank H. Spurr.
Associated with them and in charge of the engine department were Chief Engineer Robert E. O'Neil and extra Chief Engineer Robert E. Anderson.