Mission Tankers During World War II

During World War II a group of Merchant Marine tanker ships were named after various missions. These became known as the mission fleet.

While little celebrated, merchant mariners were literally on the front lines once out of port. Like US Navy ships they were often attacked by any means available and some mariners received gunnery training as necessary. Countless performed acts of bravery beyond the call of duty.

As ship traffic became important for commerce, tankers were developed to carry all sorts of liquid cargo. Such items as gasoline, oil and even molasses were carried by tanker. During World War II fuels became important to keep the war machine in motion and some 6,500 voyages were made to carry 65 million tons of oil and gasoline from US sources to war zones. That’s about 85% of all the fuel needed to keep bombers, tanks, jeeps and other vehicles running during the war.

A typical tanker was 523 feet long, had a 68-foot beam, used 6,000 horsepower Turbo-Electronic engines, and ran at a maximum of 16 knots. The crew was usually 42 mariners and 17 Navy Armed Guard. Each tanker carried between four and six million gallons.

In 1943, to carry extra cargo, so-called skeleton decks were added about seven to eight feet above the deck. These carried planes and even PT boats.

The complete fleet included US Navy Ships…

  • Mission Alamo
  • Mission Buenaventura
  • Mission Capistrano
  • Mission Carmel
  • Mission De Pala
  • Mission Dolores
  • Mission Loreto
  • Mission Los Angeles
  • Mission Purisima
  • Mission San Antonio
  • Mission San Carlos
  • Mission San Diego
  • Mission San Fernando
  • Mission San Francisco
  • Mission San Gabriel
  • Mission San Jose
  • Mission San Juan
  • Mission San Lorenzo
  • Mission San Luis Obispo
  • Mission San Luis Rey
  • Mission San Miguel
  • Mission San Rafael
  • Mission San Xavier
  • Mission Santa Ana
  • Mission Santa Barbara
  • Mission Santa Clara
  • Mission Santa Cruz
  • Mission Santa Maria
  • Mission Santa Ynez
  • Mission Solano
  • Mission Soledad