S.S. Gold Heels, formerly the Italian Brennero and later USS Carondelet (IX-136), circa 1942-1943
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Class:        EX-ITALIAN TANKERS (IX-132 etc.)
Design        Tankers, 1901-1922
Displacement (tons):        3,481 light, 12,275 full load
Dimensions (feet):        431.1' oa, 400.0' wl x 52.0' x 25.7' full load
Original Armament:        2-3"/50 8-20mm (IX-132, 134, 138, 140)
Later armaments:        1-4"/50 1-3"/50 8-20mm (IX-136, 141, 144, 145)
Complement        70 (1944)
Speed (kts.):        10.5
Propulsion (HP):        2,500
Machinery:        1 screw, vertical triple expansion

Construction:
IX Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
132 ANDREW DORIA 18 Aug 44 Napier & Miller -- 13 Jun 08 23 Aug 44
134 ARAYAT 13 Apr 44 Fairfield SB -- 1918 18 Apr 44
136 CARONDELET 24 Feb 44 Soc. Esercizio Bacini, R. Trigoso 3 May 19 28 Jul 21 4 Apr 44
138 MALVERN 10 May 44 Armstrong Whitworth -- 8 Dec 00 10 May 44
140 QUIROS 23 Mar 44 Palmers SB -- 12 Feb 03 23 Mar 44
141 MANILENO 8 Apr 44 Soc. Esercizio Bacini, R. Trigoso -- 22 Oct 21 8 Apr 44
144 CLYDE 9 Feb 44 James Laing -- 24 Oct 18 14 Mar 44
145 VILLALOBOS 2 Feb 44 Newport News SB & DD 30 Jun 10 4 Feb 11 10 Feb 44

Disposition:
IX Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
132 ANDREW DORIA 28 Feb 46 20 Mar 46 28 Feb 46 RTO --
134 ARAYAT 15 Feb 46 12 Mar 46 15 Feb 46 RTO --
136 CARONDELET 25 Feb 46 12 Mar 46 25 Feb 46 RTO --
138 MALVERN 16 Feb 46 26 Feb 46 16 Feb 46 RTO --
140 QUIROS 7 Dec 45 3 Jan 46 7 Dec 45 MC/D 17 May 46
141 MANILENO 7 Feb 46 28 Mar 46 7 Feb 46 MC/D 19 May 47
144 CLYDE 9 Apr 45 5 Jun 46 28 Nov 45 RTO --
145 VILLALOBOS 16 Feb 46 26 Feb 46 16 Feb 46 RTO --

Class Notes:
FY 1943. The specifications above are for IX-134, specifications for the others (which varied widely) are in the Ship Notes. On 30 Mar 41 the US suddenly seized 65 German, Italian, and Danish ships, purportedly to prevent them from being sabotaged to block U.S. ports. The Germans and Italians in turn ordered their ships scuttled to avoid seizure, and many of the 28 seized Italian ships were sabotaged by their crews. In South America seven German and Italian tankers were sunk by their crews when South American governments indicated they might follow the U.S. lead in seizing ships. The U.S. appropriation of foreign merchant ships was broadened when on 6 Jun 41 Presidential Executive Order 101 authorized the Maritime Commission to take over foreign merchant vessels lying idle within the jurisdiction of the United States and place them into operation to assist in the national defense. Among the many ships taken over before the end of 1941 were the former Italian Navy oiler BRENNERO and the tanker COLORADO. After Venezuela and Colombia broke diplomatic relations with Germany and Italy in December 1941 they made available to the U.S. many Axis ships in their territory, including five Italian tankers in Venezuela and one in Colombia (at least two of which had been scuttled in March 1941). The War Shipping Administration repaired these ships and put them into service under Panamanian registry. These eight ships were obvious candidates when the Navy asked the War Shipping Administration in late 1943 for fifteen old tankers, to be designated IX 131-145, for use as floating oil storage vessels in the Pacific.

-- IX 131-145: On 12 Oct 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board reported that it had been informed that there were available to the Navy certain old WSA tankers as well as a number of new Liberty tankers (see IX 111-130) which could be used to help meet the urgent requirements which existed in the Pacific area for floating storage at advanced bases. The Board recommended that 15 old tankers that it identified by name be acquired and that, as the service required of these ships was primarily storage in the ports to which assigned and very little cruising would be required, only minimum repairs for service should be made and no conversion features be undertaken. Over half of the ships nominated for this function by the War Shipping Administration and listed by the Auxiliary Vessels Board were ex-Italian tankers, the others were American ships dating from 1921 or before.

In his formal request to WSA for the ships dated 14 Oct 43, VCNO explained that the matter of relieving fast tankers in the South Pacific which were being held in port for want of storage facilities had been under discussion for some time. In view of the unavailabity of fuel barges (which also required towing), the use of less valuable tankers and the new Liberty tankers for this purpose was indicated. For this reason he was asking WSA for 35 ships, including 15 old, slow tankers. These would be allocated to the Navy as merchant ships until they arrived at the destinations where they were to be taken over and manned by the Navy. The merchant crews would then be returned to the United States by first available transportation. The primary use of these vessels would be to provide mobile floating storage and, except for their initial trip and as necessity might dictate it, was not contemplated that they would be used to transport cargo.

On 19 Oct 43 VCNO directed that these vessels be armed in accordance with the standard merchant practice for Area 1-A (1-4" or 5" aft, 1-3'/50 forward, and 8-20mm) and be supplied with 20 lengths of 4" and 6 lengths of 6" filling hose including necessary fittings for use in transferring fuel to other vessels. All 15 were to be loaded with cargoes of fuel oil for their initial voyage, making them "dirty" tankers unless their tanks were later cleaned to permit carrying diesel fuel or gasoline.

BRENNERO (later IX-136) was unusual not only because she was a former Italian Navy ship and because, like many Italian Navy tankers, she had her engines amidships as in a freighter rather than aft, but also because she had an elaborate underwater side protection system that was visible as a large external bulge. Soon after World War I an Italian Navy engineer who later became the Navy's chief ship designer, Umberto Pugliese, developed a unique side protection scheme for battleships. The "Pugliese System" consisted of a large hollow cylinder installed along the portion of the hull that was to be protected. This cylinder was to be kept completely empty and immersed in fuel oil or water within a larger and stronger enclosed space or bulge. The theory was that the energy from a torpedo hit would be expended crushing the cylinder while the stronger enclosed space that contained it would not be breached. This system was tested on a model and then tested full scale on BRENNERO. BRENNERO had it by 1924 and was probably built with it in 1921. A second Italian Navy tanker built in the 1920s was also reportedly fitted with it. The results were so promising that the system was built into all the new and reconstructed Italian battleships of the 1930s, where it proved to have fatal weaknesses in the design and fabrication of the space containing the cylinder. BRENNERO still had this system, or at least the bulges, when she was taken over by the U.S. in 1941.

Six of these eight old tankers were on a list of 14 former Italian ships that President Truman in an Executive Order of 16 Mar 48 directed be returned to the Government of Italy. The list also included two large passenger ships that served as AP-54 and AP-61 and 6 elderly freighters. The two old tankers not on the list, IX-140 and IX-141, had already been disposed of, one to an Italian firm for further operation. Of the six tankers returned, two including the Italian Navy oiler BRENNERO were returned to service and the other four were scrapped.

Ship Notes:
IX Name Notes
132 ANDREW DORIA Ex merc. ALCIBIADES, ex JOLE FASSIO (Italian) 1942, built as TAMARAC (completed Aug 08). 13,800t full load; 395.3' oa, 371.3' wl x 51.6' x 26.1' full load; 1,500 hp, 10 kts., 1 screw, vert. triple expansion. Scuttled by Italians 31 Mar 41 at Puerto Cabello, raised, to WSA from Venezuelan Govt. 6 Jul 42, repaired at Galveston. Acquired at Brisbane, Australia. Merc ALCIBIADES (MC) 1946, redelivered to Italian Government and simultaneously delivered to scrapper at Philadelphia 13 Oct 49.
134 ARAYAT Ex merc. FAIRENO, ex DENTICE (Italian) 1942, built as WAR PATRIOT (completed Apr 08). See specifications above. To WSA from Venezuelan Govt. 6 Jul 42 at Puerto Cabello. Acquired at Brisbane, Australia. Merc. FAIRENO (MC) 1946. To Italian buyer as DENTICE 6 Oct 49. Scrapped 1954 at Vado.
136 CARONDELET Ex merc. GOLD HEELS, ex Italian Navy oiler BRENNERO 1941 (in service 10 Oct 21). 11,760t full load; 343.0' oa, 328' wl x 59.3' x 24.8' full load; 3,200 hp, 10.0 kts., 1 screw, vert. triple expansion. Taken over by MC 30 Oct 41 at New York under Executive Order of 6 Jun 41. Acquired at Brisbane, Australia. Merc. GOLD HEELS (MC) 1946. Delivered to Italian Government 27 Sep 48 and to Italian Navy as BRENNERO. Stricken by Italian Navy 1 Aug 54.
138 MALVERN Ex merc. ORISSA, ex TROTTIERA (Italian) 1942, built as PINNA (completed Mar 01). 13,250t full load; 436.8' oa, 420.25' wl x 51.8' x 27.25' full load; 2,300 hp, 7.0 kts., 1 screw, vert. triple expansion. Scuttled by Italians 31 Mar 41 at Puerto Cabello, raised, to WSA from Venezuelan Govt. 6 Jul 42. Acquired at Majuro. To MC at Subic Bay as ORISSA 1946, returned to Italian Government. Resold by Italian owners and departed Subic Bay 11 Mar 50, presumably for scrapping at Hong Kong.
140 QUIROS Ex merc. OSMOND, ex ALABAMA (Italian) 1942, built as GRAF STROGANOFF (completed Aug 03). 20,000t full load; 442.0' oa, 435.0' wl x 54.7' x 27.9' full load; 10.5 kts., 1 screw, vert. triple expansion. To WSA from Venezuelan Govt. 6 Jul 42 at Puerto Cabello. Acquired at Majuro. Speed fell to unreliable 5 knots by mid-1945, towed back to West Coast. Merc. OSMOND (MC) 1945. To buyer 10 Jul 47, scrapped by 4 Sep 47.
141 MANILENO Ex merc. POLONAISE, ex VICTORIAN 1942, ex RAPALLO (Italian) 1942 (completed Dec 21). 395.0' oa, 376.5' wl x 51.8' x 27.25'; 2,400 hp, 10 kts., 1 screw, vert. triple expansion. To WSA from Colombian Government 6 Aug 42 at Cartagena. Acquired at Majuro. To Italian buyer 19 May 47 as RAPALLO. Scrapped 1955 at Trieste.
144 CLYDE Ex USS ST. MARY 10 Jun 44 (name given to APA-126), ex merc. SWIVEL 1944, ex MANZANARES 1942, ex BACICIN PADRE (Italian) 1941, built as WAR PUNDIT (completed Dec 18). 10,800t full load; 409.7' oa, 400.0' wl x 52.4' x 25.25' full load; 2,800 hp, 11 kts., 1 screw, vert. triple expansion. To WSA from Venezuelan Govt. 11 Jul 42 at Puerto Cabello. Acquired at Brisbane, Australia. Damaged in collision 1 Nov 44, decomm. at Hollandia as constructive total loss 9 Apr 45 and placed in service same date as dead storage. To MC at Manus Is. 28 Nov 45 as SWIVEL, towed to Subic Bay 11-24 Dec 45, to MC there 7 Feb 46. Returned to Italian Government there and scrapped soon afterwards.
145 VILLALOBOS Ex merc. TYPHOON, ex COLORADO (Italian) 1941, ex WILLIAM F. HERRIN (ID-3522) 1928 (completed 20 Mar 11). 12,000t full load; 400.0' oa, 378.0' wl x 52.0' x 25.8' full load; 2,500 hp, 10.0 kts., 1 screw, vert. triple expansion. Taken over under Executive Order of 6 Jun 41, probably at Galveston in Sept. 1941. Acquired at Brisbane, Australia. To MC at Subic Bay as TYPHOON 1946, returned to Italian Gov't in sunken condition there 31 Aug 48, scrapped 1949.

Page Notes:
IX        1944
Compiled:        24 Aug 2010
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2010