These were the first tankers completed under the Maritime Commission's long range 500 ship program begun in 1938. All were acquired by the US Navy for use as fleet oilers, either before completion, or shortly thereafter. The ships were T3-S2-A1 tankers; 553 feet long overall, 75 feet wide with a gross tonnage of 11,335 tons, deadweight capacity of 18,300 tons, and a full load displacement of 24,830 tons. Propulsion was provided by two steam turbine sets (HP & LP) geared to two shafts, giving the ships an 18 knot service speed.
Construction of the AO-23 Neosho (pronounced "nee-OH-sho") began in June of 1938 in New Jersey, and she was launched on April 29, 1939. At that time, the 553-foot long ship was the largest oil tanker in the world. Four months later, it was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in Norfolk, Virginia and officially named the USS Neosho.
Several ships of this class were converted to escort carriers of the Sangamon class in 1942.
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