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Brandywine (1) / Esso Washington (1)
SS Esso Washington

For about two years and four months - from  the time of the vessel's delivery to the day when she went aground while on a Navy fueling mission in the Pacific - the turbo-electric tanker Esso Washington rendered important service in the battle of supply between the fall of 1942 and the spring of 1945.
She began her first voyage, to Galveston, Texas, on November 6, 1942, two days before the Allied landings in North Africa. She had discharged her last delivered cargo at Ulithi and was returning to San Pedro, California, when, on February 19, 1945, United States Marines landed on Iwo Jima.
The Esso Washington, in her comparatively brief existence, completed 24 voyages, including many long hauls in the Atlantic and Mediterranean and the Pacific. Her delivered cargoes totaled more than 2,390,000 barrels of petroleum products, transported mainly to overseas supply ports and bases near the fighting fronts.

On February 27, 1945, the Esso Washington sailed from San Pedro under Navy orders, bound for Eniwetok, in the Marshall Islands, with a cargo of 93,220 barrels of special Navy fuel oil. With a merchant crew of 47 officers and men and a U. S. Navy armed guard of 28, the tanker was commanded by Captain Frans G. M. Anderson and her engineroom was in charge of Chief Engineer Lawrence Erhard.

Was on Third Pacific Fueling Mission
It was the vessel's third Navy fueling mission in the Pacific and she had nearly reached her destination when, on March 14, at 3:35 p.m., the Esso Washington grounded on a coral reef bordering Parry Island near the eastern entrance to the lagoon of Eniwetok atoll.
Many attempts were made by Navy salvors, over a period of two months and seven days, to refloat the Esso Washington, but were given up on May 21. Meanwhile, the stranded tanker was badly damaged by grinding on the reef and her bulk cargo was jettisoned or lost.
On May 27, Captain Anderson received an order from the War Shipping Administration 10 strip and dismantle the ship, and, when this task was completed, to abandon her. Early in June, usable equipment and material - including 362 drums of lube oil stowed in the fore hold - had been removed and on June 16 the vessel's entire merchant crew left Eniwetok on the SS Jean Laffitte, owned by the Waterman Steamship Company, arriving at San Francisco on July 2. After a thorough inquiry, a Marine Department investigating committee attached no blame to the master for the grounding of the vessel.

The SS Esso Washington, ex Brandywine (U. S. Maritime Commission), was built in 1942 by the Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company at Chester, Penna. She was a sistership of the Esso Gettysburg, Esso Manhattan, Esso Norfolk, Esso Paterson, and Esso Wilmington.
A single-screw vessel of 16,755 deadweight tons capacity on international summer draft of 30 feet, 2 inches, the Esso Washington had a length between perpendiculars of 503 feel and an overall length of 523 feet, 6 inches. Her moulded breadth was 68 feet; her moulded depth, 39 feet, 3 inches. With a cargo carrying capacity of 138,335 barrels, she had an assigned pumping rate of 7,000 barrels an hour.
Her turbo-electric engine, supplied with steam by two water-tube boilers, developed 7,240 shaft horsepower and gave her a classification certified speed of 14.6 knots.

Leaving Chester, Penna., on November 6, 1942. the Esso Washington made a shakedown passage to Galveston, where she arrived on November 16. All equipment and gear were tested and on the 23rd she loaded her first cargo, 117,490 barrels of Pool gas oil No. 1. Under the command of Captain Ernest C. Kelson and with Chief Engineer Reginald E. Harris in charge of her engineroom, the new tanker headed for New York where she discharged this initial cargo. For the rest of the year, and until near the end of January, 1943, she ran between Gulf loading ports and New York.
The Esso Washington began her wartime work in earnest on January 28, 1943., when she departed from New York tor Aruba and loaded 106.933 barrels of fuel and Diesel oils for delivery to Dakar.
As stated by Second Mate John D. Hall, in an interview for this history:
"We left Aruba on February 5, 1943 and two days later stopped at Trinidad for convoy instructions. On February 9 we tlook departure in convoy with three other tankers, protected by three destroyers. The other vessels were the Esso Norfolk, American Sun (owned by the Sun Oil Company) and Cherry Valley - a Keystone tanker. When we arrived at Dakar, we heard that these were the first tankers to enter that port in years."
After discharging at Dakar, the Esso Washington returned to Trinidad, where she loaded a cargo of 85,761 barrels of Admiralty fuel for Freetown, British West Africa. At that port she discharged into three lighters -- the Trigonia (owned by the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, Ltd.) and the Inverlago and Inverrosa, both of the Lago Shipping Company. Ltd. The Esso Washington made two more trips to Freetown, but on the third her cargo was distributed to Freetown, Bathurst, and Dakar, she arrived at Curacao on May 31.
Between these long voyages she carried two coastwise cargoes. Thereafter, for the next five months, she transported social Navy fuel oil to Mediterranean ports, entering the harbors of Algiers, Oran, Gibraltar, and Bizerte; she also went to Casablanca.

Close Call in Convoy
On October 3. 1913. while in a convoy bound for Bizerte, North Africa, the Esso Washington had a close call. One of the escort vessels made a contact and dropped a series of depth charges in close proximity to the ship. As a result of the severe concussion, a plate was cracked in the tanker's underwater body; the necessary repairs were subsequently made at Newport News, Va.
On January 9, 1944, the Esso Washington left New York on her first trip to the United Kingdom, arriving in Liverpool January 20 with 95.939 barrels of Diesel and fuel oils. Her next cargo, loaded at New York. was also discharged at Liverpool. There followed five voyages to Glasgow and one to Avonmouth.
On October 26 the Esso tanker arrived at Curacao to load for the first of her three Pacific voyages. The first mission look her to Eniwetok, she covered 7.182 miles in twenty-two days. From Eniwetok she was dispatched to Ulithi, Caroline Islands, where she discharged into two Navy oilers. Returning to the west coast, the Esso Washington reached San Pedro on December 21 and there loaded, for her second Pacific voyage, 91,606 barrels of social Navy fuel oil. On this occasion, the Esso Washington also took aboard a deck cargo. Her orders were to proceed to Uliihi.
Captain Anderson, in an interview for this history, gave the following account of the voyage:
"On taking departure from San Pedro, with a full cargo of oil and a deck cargo consisting of fifteen plane rearming boats and four plane personnel boats, we sailed alone to Eniwetok and there picked up a convoy for Ulithi. When we arrived, there were about 350 ships in the lagoon - including eight battleships and fifty carriers, together with cruisers, destroyers, etc. During our stay at Ulithi, we witnessed a wonderful sight when forty-five B-29 Superfortresses roared overhead.
"We discharged our bulk cargo into Navy barge YO 76, Navy oilers 72 and 58, and the SS Fort Cumberland (owned by the War Shipping Administration and operated by the Marine Transport Lines, Inc.), but ran into difficulty in the process of unloading our deck cargo. On January 25 a crane barge came alongside, but as the sea was too rough for this operation the barge left and did not return until January 28. We managed to complete the job on the 30th."
On February 5. 1945 the Esso Washington started for San Pedro, where she arrived February 22; she took on 93,220 barrels of special Navy fuel in her cargo tanks and 362 drums of lube oil in her fore hold. Her bulk cargo was never delivered because of her mishap at Eniwetok, but the drums of lube oil were safely landed on the Pacific atoll.

The delivery record of the Esso Washington from November 23, 1942 until February 5, 1945, when she left Ulithi for San Pedro, was in summary as follows:


The wartime masters of the Esso Washington were Captains Ernest C. Kelson, Maurice W. Carter, Eric R. Blomquist, Clinton W. Hayes, and Frans G. M. Anderson.
Her engineroom during this period was in charge of Chief Engineers Reginald E. Harris, Alvah B. Sirout, Gurnie R. Lee, Laughton D. Angel, Alexander Prait, and Lawrence Erhard.
Seven members of the crew of the Esso Washington on March 14, 1945 were on ships lost or damaged by enemy action: First Assistant Engineer William L. MacLeod (Esso Harrisburg, July 6. 1944); Second Assistant Engineer Robert D. Price (Franklin K. Lane, June 8, 1942); Third Assistant Engineer James A. Mitchell (Esso Nashville, March 21, 1942, and Esso Harrisburg, July 6, 1944); Oiler Robert G. Halmage (H. H. Rogers, February 21, 1943); Storekeeper George A. Beni (E. J. Sadler, June 22, 1942); Second Cook Bard N. Claar (Arriaga, June 23, 1942, and Esso Providence, August 24, 1943); and Ulilityman Nova Z. Whaley (Esso Providence, August 24, 1943).

Merchant Crew of the "Esso Washington" - March 14, 1945:

Frans G. M. Anderson
Joseph C. Murphy
Ch. Mate
Chester Clendenin
Walther Von Riegen
2nd Male
John F. Moran
De Forest Marshall
3rd Mate
Dewev M. Ball
Lawrence Erhard
Ch. Engr.
Daniel Martin
William L. MacLeod
1st A.sst.
Charles Edelen
Robert D. Price
2nd Asst.
William W. Deskin
James A. Mitchell
3rd Asst.
Edward G. Falkard
Anton B. Anderson
Ch. Radio Op.
Robert G. Halmage
Gerald V. Gale
2nd Radio Op.
James J. Devlin
Alexander N. Colonna
Edward R. Muller
Joseph A. Simko
George A. Bern
Jacob Kirchmeier
Joseph P. Benrand
Woodrow W. Clark
Ch. Cook
Robert J. Church
Jack Auslander
James E. Pyle
Sam Sayetta
Ralph F. Reedy
Willie G. Bryant
John R. Eyre
Robert J. Uhlir
Bard N. Claar
2nd Cook
Fred J. Perry
Tremaine J. Bushen
Daniel F. Cresap
Evan F. Jones
Norman B. Alkinson
James J. Manz
Edward L. Kitts
Francis E. Needham
William Dubey
Gun C.M.
Nova Z.Whaley
Henrv H. Carte
Gun C.M.
Johnny L. Mize

U.S. Navy Armed Guard of the "Esso Washington":

Theodore A. Harpstreit
Lt. (jg)
Robert V. Moynier
Irving Arkin
Adam I. Myers
Floyd V. Ashenfelter
Ray H. O'Harrow
Thomas J. Aultinan
John E. Otelwski
John E. Beninghove
Carl M. Otte
E. T. Browning, Jr.
Jaines F. Parsons
John E. Del Nero
Joe T. Peabody
Ralph L. Deramo
David E. Pearse
Francis L. Doaty
Billie Pepper
Devey O. Griffith
Norman K. Peterson
William R. Hall
Richard D. Phillips, Jr.
Frederick C. Huber
John R. Rainage
George R. Jacobson
GM3c (T)
Robert D. Wilson
Charles D. Morgan
Frank W. Yarema