Brazos (AO-4)


By: Mike Zambrano, Jr.

Type: General Entry

Published: October 25, 2021

Updated: October 25, 2021


USS Brazos (AO-4) was a Kanawha-class auxiliary oiler and the first United States Navy ship named for the Brazos River in Texas. It was launched on May 1, 1919, at the Boston Navy Yard in Massachusetts. Sponsored by Miss Catherine Rush, Brazos was commissioned on October 1, 1919, as a fuel ship, but on July 17, 1920, was re-designated as an auxiliary oiler. Her first captain was Cmdr. R. Werner, USNRF. Brazos measured 475 feet in length with a beam of 56 feet. Unloaded, it displaced 5,723 tons and 14,700 tons when fully loaded. Its top speed was 14.3 knots, and its complement consisted of 255 officers and men, however, that number varied depending on its mission.

Brazos was assigned to support the Training Squadron of the U. S. Navy Scouting Fleet in the Atlantic to provide fuel and stores and operate along the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean. During 1922 the ship briefly supported the U. S. Naval Detachment assigned to protect American interests in Turkish waters. In 1924 Brazos supported Train, Squadron 1, Fleet Base Force, before transferring to the Pacific Fleet the following year. In subsequent years, the ship continued its routine duties and occasionally underwent overhauls.

On December 7, 1941, Brazos, with a cargo of fuel oil, diesel oil, and gasoline, was en route from Bremerton, Washington, to Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base in Alaska when it received word of the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor. Brazos operated in the area of the Aleutian Islands until June 1, 1942, when it departed for San Francisco—thereby avoiding the Japanese air raid on June 3.

Brazos operated briefly in the Hawaiian and Samoan Islands. The ship returned to the Aleutian Islands where, with an occasional trip to the West Coast, it operated until January 1945, when it departed Alaska for Seattle, Washington. Brazos never returned to the Aleutians. After about a month in Seattle, the ship steamed west via Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok Atoll, and Ulithi Atoll. On March 29, 1945, Brazos arrived at Kerama Retto Anchorage in the Ryukyu Islands to support Allied vessels during the invasion of Okinawa. The oiler remained fueling ships and supplying stores until July 10, 1945, when it steamed into Buckner Bay, Okinawa, where it stayed until July 31.

On August 10, 1945, while moored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippines, Brazos received word that the Japanese had accepted the peace terms of the Potsdam Conference; the harbor erupted in celebration. Brazos returned to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, before departing on October 20, 1945, to the Japanese home islands of Shikoku and Honshu, respectively, to support the American occupation fleet. On November 9, 1945, Brazos departed Japanese waters and arrived in San Francisco, California, on November 26, 1945.

On February 8, 1946, Brazos was decommissioned and eventually transferred to the National Defense Reserve Fleet in Suisun Bay in Benecia, California, where it remained until January 6, 1947, when it was sold for scrap to the Boston Metals Company.

During its time in service USS Brazos received the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, an American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, a Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asian Clasp and one Battle Star.

Brazos AO-4 – June 1942, Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798–2007, Series: Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941–1983, National Archives Catalog (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/93152207), accessed October 20, 2021. Brazos AO-4 – January 1945…National Archives Catalog (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/93154394 ), accessed October 20, 2021. Brazos AO-4 – February 1945…National Archives Catalog (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/93154468), accessed October 20, 2021. Brazos AO-4 – March 1945…National Archives Catalog (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/93154547), accessed October 20, 2021. Brazos AO-4 – July 1945…National Archives Catalog (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/93154871), accessed October 20, 2021. Brazos (AO-4) - August 1945…National Archives Catalog (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/93154951), accessed October 20, 2021. Brazos (AO-4) – October 1945…National Archives Catalog (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/93155092), accessed October 20, 2021. Brazos (AO-4) – November 1945…National Archives Catalog (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/93155172), accessed October 20, 2021. Brazos (AO-4) – February 1946…National Archives Catalog (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/93155358), accessed October 20, 2021. Naval History and Heritage Command: Far Seas: The U. S. Naval Detachment in Turkish Waters, 1920–1922 (https://www.history.navy.mil/research/archives/Collections/transferred-collections/navy-library-transfer/far-seas.html), accessed October 20, 2021. Naval History and Heritage Command: USS Brazos (AO-4) (https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/our-collections/photography/us-navy-ships/alphabetical-listing/b/uss-brazos--ao-4-0.html), accessed October 20, 2021. USS Brazos (AO-4), NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive, NavSource Naval History (http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/19/19004.htm), accessed October 20, 2021.

Categories:
  • Military
  • World War II
Time Periods:
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • World War II

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mike Zambrano, Jr., “Brazos (AO-4),” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 29, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/brazos-ao-4.

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October 25, 2021
October 25, 2021