The Four U.S.S. Neoshos


The U.S. Navy used a specific naming regimen for its ships throughout the 1900s.  For example, the Navy:

  • Named its battleships after U.S. states (e.g., U.S.S. Arizona),

  • Named its cruisers after U.S. cities (e.g., U.S.S. Indianapolis),

  • Named its destroyers after notable Americans (e.g., U.S.S. Sims).

Likewise, the Navy named its tankers (also known as "oilers") after rivers.  The Neosho River is a tributary of the Arkansas River and lies in northeastern Oklahoma.  There have been four Navy ships named U.S.S. Neosho, including the AO-23, which this section of my website is devoted to.  The four Neoshos are shown below.


  • The first U.S.S. Neosho was a Union iron-clad river boat which patrolled the Mississippi River during the Civil War.  It operated from 1863 until 1873.

  • The second U.S.S. Neosho, the AO-23, was an oiler that was launched in 1939.  As described in this website, the AO-23 served at Pearl Harbor during the 1941 Japanese attack and was sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942.

  • The third U.S.S. Neosho, the AO-48, was an oiler that was launched on December 23, 1941, two weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack.  The AO-48 was named the U.S.S. Neosho in July 1942, two months after the AO-23 was sunk at Coral Sea.  Ironically, after being sunk on the Neosho (AO-23), my uncle, Bill Leu, then served on the Neosho  (AO-48).  The AO-48 served in the Pacific throughout World War II, then it was turned over to the Maritime Commission in 1946 for disposal.  It was scrapped in Hamburg, Germany in 1964.

  • The fourth U.S.S. Neosho, the AO-143, was a Navy oiler that was launched in 1953.  This ship served in the Middle East during the 1956 Suez War and during the tense 1962 naval quarantine of Cuba.  It was decommissioned in 1978.



Above:  Summarized stories of the U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23:  top photo) and U.S.S. Neosho (AO-48:  bottom photo).  Click to enlarge.


Table of Contents:

U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23)

U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23) Home Page


SECTION 1:  Background

Specifications of the U.S.S. Neosho

Photo Gallery of the U.S.S. Neosho

>  The Four U.S.S. Neoshos


SECTION 2:  Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941)


Prelude to War:  Conflict in the Far East

Bill Leu's Early Years

The U.S.S. Neosho at Pearl Harbor

Interview of Bill Leu:  The Attack on Pearl Harbor

U.S. Navy Action Report:  U.S.S. Neosho


SECTION 3:  Battle of the Coral Sea (1942)


The Battle of the Coral Sea:  Summary

Battle Action:  April 30 - May 4, 1942

Battle Action:  May 5 - May 7, 1942

Battle Action:  May 8, 1942

The Ordeal of the U.S.S. Neosho

May 7, 1942:  The Japanese Attack

May 8, 1942:  Waiting for Rescue

May 9, 1942:  Fading Hope

May 10, 1942:  Neosho Sighted

May 11, 1942:  Rescue

The Battle of the Coral Sea (continued)

List of Survivors and Casualties

U.S.S. Neosho:  Survivors and Casualties

U.S.S. Sims:  Survivors and Casualties

Interview of Bill Leu:  The Battle of the Coral Sea

U.S. Navy Action Reports:  Battle of the Coral Sea

Action Report of U.S.S. Neosho

Action Report of U.S.S. Sims

Action Report of U.S.S. Helm

Other Ships at the Battle of the Coral Sea

The U.S.S. Sims (Neosho's Escort)

The U.S.S. Henley (Neosho's Rescuer)

The U.S.S. Helm (Rescued Life Raft)

Battle of the Coral Sea Scrapbook

Honolulu Newspaper:  May 8, 1942

S.F. Examiner Article:  July 10, 1942


SECTION 4:  Aftermath


President Bush's 1991 Speech at Pearl Harbor

Seattle Times Article:  Bill Leu at Pearl Harbor

John S. Phillips, Captain of the U.S.S. Neosho

U.S.S. Neosho Veteran's Forum

Fireman Third Class, Bill Leu

Jack Rolston and the Tragic "Raft of 68"

Links, Sources and Further Information

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