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Esso Pittsburgh - (1943-1961)
MS Esso Pittsburgh
In view of the war peril encountered on the thirteenth voyage of the Esso Pittsburgh in November, 1943, the new tanker - delivered February 26 of that year - was exceedingly fortunate in being one of the three Esso ships on which the U. S. Maritime Commission installed an "electro-protective detecting device."
The secret instrument, which gave clamorous warning of the approach of submarines and even of torpedoes, was first allocated to certain vessels of several major oil company fleets for trial purposes.

Quick Action
The story of how the torpedo detecting device saved the Esso Pittsburgh was told by Captain Nils Borgeson in an interview for this history:
"On November 16, 1943, we left Curacao at 12:15 p.m., bound for Halifax. The Esso Pittsburgh was about 125 miles north of Aruba when a submarine fired two torpedoes at us. The detector alarm first gave warning of the presence of a torpedo at 8:39 p.m. and the ship was immediately swung sharply. We did not see the first torpedo. About ten minutes later we got another alarm and swung her hard. We sighted the wake of the second torpedo, which passed not more than 50 feet ahead of us.
"If the Esso Pittsburgh had not been equipped with the detecting device and had not been swung out of her course instantly, she would have been torpedoed amidships.
"We were sailing alone. I sent a distress message and planes came out to search for the enemy submarine."

Science, Alertness and Seamanship
Thus did a scientific invention developed in World War II, together with the alertness and seamanship of the ship's officers, save intact the tanker Esso Pittsburgh, her merchant crew and Navy armed guard, and her war cargo of 118,426 barrels of fuel oil for the fighting fronts.

The MS Esso Pittsburgh was built in 1943 by the Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company at Chester, Penna. She is a sistership of the Esso Augusta,, Esso Little Rock, and Esso Philadelphia. The Esso Wil-liamsburg, lost in Sep-tember, 1942, was also a sistership.
A single-screw vessel of 17,955 deadweight, tons capacity on international summer draft of 30 feet, 41/2 inches, the Esso Pittsburgh has an overall length of 547 feet, 2 3/4 inches, a length between perpendiculars of 521 feet, a moulded breadth of 70 feet, and a depth moulded of 40 feet. With a cargo carrying capacity of 153,704 barrels, she has an assigned pumping rate of 8,000 barrels an hour.
Her Diesel engine develops 8,250 brake horsepower and gives her a classification certified speed of 15.2 knots.
The Esso Pittsburgh began her first voyage on March 4, 1943, when she left Chester, Penna., for Baytown, Texas. The motor tanker arrived at Bay-town March 9 after traveling 1,845 sea miles in about 5 days and 6 hours at an average speed of 14.43 knots. She was commanded by Captain Ernest C. Kelson and her engineroom was in charge of Chief Engineer Max D. Petersen.
With her first cargo, 128,627 barrels of Essoheat medium, the Esso Pittsburgh took departure from Baytown at 12:08 p.m., March 10. After a run covering 2,065 sea miles in approximately 5 days and 11 hours at an average speed of 15.08 knots, her arrival time at New York was 12:06 a.m., March 16.

From Iceland to Fiji
During the rest of the year 1943 the Esso Pittsburgh was engaged principally in transporting fuel oil from Aruba and Curacao to Guantanamo, Cristobal, New York, Balboa, and Halifax, but she also made four overseas voyages. In April she went to Reykjavik, in June to Algiers, in September to Milford Haven, and in December to Nandi in the Fiji Islands.
On the voyage to Nandi, the first of five Navy fueling missions in the Pacific, the Esso Pittsburgh was commanded by Captain Borgeson and her engine-room was in charge of Chief Engineer Ervin G. Haatvedt. Loading 113,919 bar-rels of Navy fuel oil at Aruba and proceeding through the Panama Canal, the tanker sailed from Balboa December 4, 1943, at 11:50 p.m. When she reached Nandi on Christmas Eve, the Esso Pittsburgh had traveled 6,833 nautical miles in about 19 days and 4 hours at an average speed of 14.9 knots.
"In Nandi Bay," Captain Borgeson said, "we discharged into a Navy oiler, the USS Atascosa (ex Esso Columbia, second vessel so named)."
At that time, our amphibious operations required quantities of fuel oil that seemed unprecedented, but the demands for Navy fuel were even then beginning to increase almost constantly as the forces of General MacArthur and Admir-al Nimitz grew to larger and larger proportions and their campaigns extended over greater distances.
Bearing in mind that the Esso Pittsburgh, on her first Pacific voyage, delivered a cargo of Navy fuel oil at Nandi on December 24, 1943, it is of interest to recall that within a month from that time Admiral Nimitz carried out operation FLINTLOCK - the seizure of several atolls in the Marshall Islands. As our Army's Chief of Staff reported:
"On January 31, 1944, after two days of intense^ air and naval bombardment, the 7th Division, veteran of Attu, land-ed on the southern islands of Kwajalein Atoll, while the 4th Marine Division attacked the northern tip at Namur and Roi . . . Majuro, with its excellent naval anchorage, was also occupied."
Leaving Nandi Bay on December 26, 1943, the Esso Pittsburgh arrived at Aruba on January 18, 1944, to load an-other cargo of Navy fuel oil, with which she sailed from Balboa, January 24, on her second voyage to Pacific bases.
"At Balboa," Captain Borgeson said, "we , took aboard six PT boats. A spar deck had been built on the Esso Pittsburgh and the PT boats were placed in cradles and lashed down. The boats were important to us because we used the radar sets with which they were equipped. We unloaded the PT boats at Milne Bay and Cape Sudest, New Guinea."

Important Occasion
The Esso Pittsburgh arrived at Milne Bay on February 19, 1944, the day on which the 27th Division and a Marine combat team landed on Eniwetok Atoll. The tanker's 113,991 barrels of Navy fuel oil cargo / were discharged into the USS Trinity (AO 13), the USS Villalobos (AO 145), and the Alcibiades.
Ten days after the Esso Pittsburgh arrived at Milne Bay, General MacArthur began operations to seize the Admiralty Islands. To quote General Marshall's report: "On 29 February General MacArthur accompanied advance elements of the 1st Cavalry Division, transported on Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet destroyers and high speed transports, to reconnoiter Los Negros Island. He was prepared to follow in force if the situation warranted . . . Momote airdrome was captured . . . During the remainder of March and the early part of April, the occupation of Ma-nus and the adjacent islands was completed."
After her second Pacific voyage, the Esso tanker was assigned to duty in the Atlantic. Arriving at Cartagena on April 8, 1944, she loaded 125,802 barrels of Colombian crude oil - delivered at New York April 16.
Following a repair period, the vessel deckloaded 16 Army picket boats in preparation for her third Pacific voyage. Captain Olaf Andersen was assigned as master; Chief Engineer Haatvedt remained in charge of the engineroom.
On April 22, 1944, while the Esso Pittsburgh was at New York, General MacArthur's forces, making a sudden move of more than 400 miles westward along the northern coast of New Guinea, seized Aitape and made landings in Humboldt Bay and Tanahmerah Bay in an operation which resulted in the taking of Hollandia.

Oil and Picket Boats
Hollandia became the next destination of the Esso Pittsburgh. Sailing from New York on May 4 with her deck load of Army picket boats, the tanker arrived at Aruba on the 9th and loaded 105,469 barrels of Navy fuel oil. Leaving Bal-boa May 14, she arrived at Hollandia June 13. By that time. General MacArthur's forces, striking 330 miles west-ward of Hollandia, had landed on Biak Island, near the entrance to Geelvink Bay.
Captain Andersen, in his interview for this history, recalled the Esso Pittsburgh's voyage to Hollandia:
"We rode through a very bad storm and nearly lost our deck cargo of Army boats. To save them, we were forced to go far off our course."
Arriving at Hollandia less than two months after its capture, the Esso Pittsburgh discharged her fuel cargo into HMAS Bishopdale and the Alcibiades and unloaded the picket boats.
Not long afterward, in early July, Noemfoor Island was occupied by General MacArthur's forces and on July 30 a landing at Sansapor secured air and naval bases on the Vogelkop Peninsula.
"In a little over 12 months," General Marshall's report stated, "American forces in the Southwest Pacific, with the assistance of Australian units, had pushed 1,300 miles closer to the heart of the Japanese Empire, cutting off more than 135,000 enemy troops beyond hope of rescue."
After a trip to Melbourne for bunkers, the Esso Pittsburgh was ordered to Abadan, in the Persian Gulf, where she loaded 113,859 barrels of Navy fuel oil. Before her fourth arrival in the Pacific battle area the tanker stopped at Sydney for provisions and then proceeded to Mios Woendi, near Biak Island, off northwestern New Guinea.
Having survived a severe storm off the coast of Australia, the Esso Pittsburgh arrived at the lagoon of Mios Woendi on September 5, 1944, less than three weeks before another victorious advance against Japanese held islands. In mid-September, landings were made on Peleliu and Angaur in the Palau group and by September 23, the 81st Di-vision had taken Ulithi. This move coincided with the seizure of Morotai. Also, the decision had been made to attack the strategic island of Leyte in the central Philippines on October 20, 1944, in a surprise move from bases in the New Guinea area.

Aid to Leyte Campaign
Thus, at Mios Woendi, between September 5 and 13, the Esso Pittsburgh made her contribution to the Leyte cam-paign when she discharged, her cargo of Navy fuel oil from Abadan into the USS Trinity and the USS Victoria (AO 46), formerly the Panama Transport Company tanker George G. Henry.
To resume Captain Andersen's story of the Esso Pittsburgh:
"At Mios Woendi, in September, 1944, there was a huge task force in the lagoon. The Japs made an air raid every night during the eight nights we were there.
"On our return from New Guinea we went to Aruba and loaded fuel oil for New York. Then the Esso Pittsburgh pro-ceeded to Curacao and once more loaded fuel for the Pacific. We left Curacao on December 14, 1944. After en-gine overhaul at Pearl Harbor we were ordered to Eniwetok, where we joined the regular convoy for Ulithi.
"At Ulithi there is at times a dangerous swell. Later on, all ships were ordered out of the lagoon when the seas were high, but when the Esso Pittsburgh was at Ulithi in February, 1945, we carried out our fueling operation despite rough weather. We went alongside the Navy oiler USS Chipola (AO 63). It took us twenty-two hours to discharge our cargo, but we had large fenders between the ships and there was little damage.
"When we returned to the dispersal point at Eniwetok, I was commodore of the convoy, which consisted of six ships with tour destroyer escorts."

Last Wartime Voyage to Pacific
On this last Pacific voyage of the Esso Pittsburgh during the war she delivered her cargo of 109,143 barrels of fuel oil at Ulithi on February 23, 1945. This was the day on which General MacArthur's forces put an end to organized Ja-panese resistance in Manila.
The Esso Pittsburgh, returning from Ulithi, arrived at Aruba on April 6, 1945. Thereafter she remained in the Atlantic for the rest of the war, making five more voyages. She transported fuel oil from Aruba to New York, Admiralty fuel from Curacao to Halifax, Navy fuel oil from Port Arthur to Norfolk, a like cargo from Aransas Pass to Baltimore, and crude oil from Puerto La Cruz to Boston.
On V-J Day, September 2, 1945, the Esso W^, burgh was in the Gulf of Mexico on her way from Boston to Aransas Pass, Texas, where she arrived September 3.

The wartime transportation record of the Esso Pittsburgh was in summary as follows:

Voyages (Cargoes')

The masters of the Esso Pittsburgh in the war years were Captains Ernest C. Kelson, Nils Borgeson, Olaf Anders-en, John B. Petterson, and Karl M. Larsen.
During the same period her engineroom was in charge of Chief Engineers Max D. Petersen, Ervin C. Haatvedt, Kenneth N. Bauchens, and Thomas J. Bov.