USS Kawishiwi AOL-146
HISTORY: 1954 - 1967
PN3 Harry Ford  and
The First 13 years - from:
American Naval Fighting Ships
Superintendent of Documents - U.S. Government Printing Office
The Special K served 39.4 years 
Estimate at least 2964 have served on board
the Kawishiwi in 24 yrs.

Decommissioned:  10/10/1979.
Transferred to: Reserve fleet

  KAWISHIWI (AO-146) is fourth of the Neosho Class Fleet Oilers, having a length of 655 feet and a beam of 86 feet. Maximum draft 35 feet - 1-1/4", Shaft H.P. 28,000 H.P. ahead, 6,000 H.P. astern. Speed 21 knots plus, Twin four bladed Screws, 18 feet in diameter. Her cargo capacity is 186,700 barrels - over 7 million gallons - and includes 130,000 barrels of Navy Special fuel oil, 48,700 barrels of aviation fuel, and 8,000 barrels of diesel fuel. KAWISHIWI's full load displacement is 38,250 tons. Her armament consisted of two 5"/38 caliber guns and six 3"/50 rapid fire twin mounts. The 5" mounts were removed in December of 1959. KAWISHIWI is steam turbine driven and is equipped with two boilers, twin screws, and a single rudder. She is manned with a compliment of 254 to 324 Navy personnel.

  KAWISHIWI (AO-146) is the first ship to carry this name. Oilers of the U.S. Navy are named for rivers named after Indians in the United States. The Kawishiwi River is located in the Northeast corner of Minnesota, East of Ely. It originates in a cluster of lakes as two branches, which later join near White Iron Lake and finally flows North to a chain of lakes on the Ontario Canada line. The total length of the river is 60 miles. The Kawishiwi river was given its name by the Ojibway Indians, and in English this name means "River full of Beaver Houses".

  KAWISHIWI (AO-146) was build by the New York Ship Building Corp., Camden N.J., where here keel was laid on 5 October, 1953. She was launched on 11 December 1954 by; sponsored by Mrs. Edmund T. Woolridge; wife of Vice Admiral WOOLRIDGE, Commander Second Fleet. She had several crew members aboard as a PRE-COMMISSIONING CREW even before she was towed to the Naval Ship Yard. Most members of this crew are living and remembering their endeavors as this history is being revised on August 4, 2011.

  KAWISHIWI (AO-146) was commissioned in Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard, 6 July 1955, Captain Joseph B. SWAIN in Command. Principal speaker was Senator Hubert H. HUMPHREY (D-Minn).

KAWISHIWI's fitting out period lasted from July to October 1955. She cleared Philadelphia 18 November 1955, sailing down the Delaware with snow flakes in the air. She stopped 2 or 3 weeks at Norfolk for Fire Fighting class, and continued through the Panama Canal, arriving at home port Long Beach 8 December for shakedown training. In February of 1956 she proceeded to San Diego for Tender availability, where she remained until March. During March Kawishiwi underwent a yard period at Todd Shipyard, Long Beach. From 2 through 25 April 1956 the ship loaded ammunition and cargo, underwent upkeep and final acceptance trials, and had an availability period at Craig Shipyard.


  KAWISHIWI departed Long Beach 25 April 1956 enroute to the Western Pacific for her first operations with Seventh Fleet.  On 16 May, 1956 she had her first replenishment operation with elements of 7th Fleet. On 18 May KAWISHIWI replenished ten ships. during the period 25 May to 1 June 1956, Commanding officer, USS Kawishiwi (AO-146), became CTU-73.3.1 consisting of four ServRon THREE ship, and a screen of three Destroyers.   KAWISHIWI replenished 29 ships during this support for 7th Fleet during operation "SEAHORSE".

  KAWISHIWI operated night and day with 7th Fleet, 1 through 12 September 1956, replenishing 78 ships and evading two typhoons in that period. The ship visited the ports of Sasebo, Japan; Kobe, Japan; Subic Bay, Philippine Islands; and Hong Kong, B.C.C., before departing WestPac on 21 September 1956. After a short upkeep period in Pearl Harbor, the ship arrived in Long Beach, California 10 October 1956. KAWISHIWI had trouble docking, she Sank a Tug. From arrival until 31 October was a leave and upkeep period, during this time KAWISHIWI received her second Commanding Officer, Captain E.T. HYDEMAN, USN, who relieved Captain J.B. SWAIN, USN.

  KAWISHIWI, in November 1956, visited Pearl Harbor and conducted individual ship exercises (ISE). The last half of December was a restrictive availability at Todd Shipyard, Long Beach.

  KAWISHIWI left Long Beach on 13 February 1957 for her second tour in the Western Pacific. While in WestPac, KAWISHIWI participated in operation "Beacon Hill" from 15 to 29 March 1957.  She visited Sasebo and Yokosuka Japan; Subic Bay, Philippines; Hong Kong, B.C.C. and Okinawa. She refueled approximately 78 ships. USS SHANGRILA (CVA-38) claimed a new fleet re-fueling record which was set in April 1957 by taking on 7,100 barrels of fuel per hour from USS KAWISHIWI. After a short visit to Pearl Harbor on the trip back, the ship arrived in Long Beach, California on 30 June 1957. 9 July to 30 September found KAWISHIWI undergoing repairs and overhaul in Naval Shipyard, Long Beach. Refresher training took place during October 1957.

  Captain E.T. HYDEMAN, USN was relieved as Commanding Officer of USS Kawishiwi (AO-146) on 24 August 1957 at Long Beach, California, by Captain A.L. GEBLIN, USN, the ship's third Commanding Officer.

  The ship participated in operation "Strikex" with First Fleet from 3 to 6 December 1957, after having executed an emergency sortie with all units from the Long Beach area.

  KAWISHIWI was the winning ship in her competitive group of eight ships as a result of Service Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Intra-Type competitive for the year ending 30 June 1957. for winning this competition USS Kawishiwi (AO-146) was awarded the Battle Efficiency Pennant.

  KAWISHIWI arrived Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, her new home port, 21 January 1958. The ship sailed for her third Westpac deployment on 24 February 1958. On 27 February 1958 she crossed the International Date Line (180th Meridian) once more, duly initiating newcomers into the Domain of the Golden Dragon. On 25 March 1958, during replenishment operations with the 7th Fleet, KAWISHIWI crossed the Equator at Longitude 106-12E.

  On 25 May 1958 the USS HANCOCK (CVA-19), working with
KAWISHIWI established a new high of 7,488 barrels of fuel oil per hour. USS SHANGRILA (CVA-38) on 8 June 1958 reclaimed a fleet re-fueling record by taking aboard 7,655 barrels per hour from USS Kawishiwi. Her ability to refuel ships at a rapid rate increased the mobility of the U.S. 7th Fleet as it protected peace in the Far East.

KAWISHIWI returned to Pearl Harbor on 28 June 1958. She had visited Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan; Subic Bay, P.I.; Hong Kong and Singapore, B.C.C. Ship's personnel enjoyed many sponsored tours of the ports they visited.

  The ship visited Lahaina Roads, on the Island of Maui, in July 1958. On 20 July she won her second consecutive Battle Efficiency "E".

  Captain E.G. GARDNER, Jr. USN relieved Captain A.L. GEBELIN, USN, as commanding Officer of
USS Kawishiwi (AO-146) on 21 August 1958.

  On 10 September 1958 the 3 in. gun battery received the grade of outstanding on competitive gunnery exercise Z-4-G, authorizing display of a gunnery "E" on the 3 in mounts and directors. On this date the ship again visited Lahaina Roads, Maui, Hawaii.

  On 1 October 1958, Tangora was honored by a ceremony. Tangora was the dog which became famous when traveling from California to Hawaii on the raft Lehi. This dog resided on
KAWISHIWI for about a year following its famed escapade. In this same month  KAWISHIWI received a grade of excellent in administrative inspection. From 25 to 27 October, the ship visited Hilo, Hawaii.

  KAWISHIWI sailed once again 18 November 1958 on her fourth Westpac deployment. She evaded a typhoon enroute to Sasebo, Japan. Carrier task force groups were then operating off Taiwan, as the Chinese Nationalist held islands Quemoy-Matsu appeared in danger. The 7th Fleet served notice of America's intention to resist aggression blunting another Communist probe to test the Free World's determination.

In December 1958,
KAWISHIWI took part in scoring another "First" during the transfer of weight between USS VESUVIOUS (AE-15) and ourselves. This weight of 5 tons set a record for the heaviest load ever transferred between two ships underway.

Christmas 1958 and New Year's Day 1959 were spent in Subic Bay, P.I.

On 6 February 1959, during operations in Van Dieman Straits, USS YORKTOWN (CVA-10) claimed a new fleet-wide fuel oil transfer rate of 7,907 barrels per hour with
KAWISHIWI. During this replenishment-at-sea, two interesting exchanges of messages (other that fuel) took place.
       A. YORKTOWN to KAWISHIWI (before Unrep):
           If you'll heat the oil good and hot,

And build that pressure up a lot,
Refueling records perhaps we'll set,
Eight thousand barrel's per hour let's get.

       B. KAWISHIWI to YORKTOWN (during Unrep):
           Fuel is hot, pumps on the line,
Everything here set up fine,
8,000 barrels not much test,
Since you're receiving from the best.

       C. YORKTOWN to KAWISHIWI (following Unrep):
           Though we pumped not 8 gran per hour,

Our plans were not entirely sour,
For we got 7.907 barrels per hour,

  The ports of Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan; Hong Kong, B.C.B. Subic Bay, P.I.; and Guam (via San Bernavkinop Straits) were visited on this tour. Personnel were taken on a visit of Tokyo. On 14 March 1959, enroute to Pearl Harbor, competitive gunnery exercise Z-21-G was concluded. A grade of out standing won a gunnery "E" display on mount 51 (5"/38). On 20 March 1959 the ship crossed the international Date Line at Latitude 18 degrees - 38.9' North. 
The oiler returned Pearl Harbor 23 March 1959. During May and June, KAWISHIWI visited the Island of Maui several times.

  On 10 June 1959, Captain G.P. JOYCE, USN became Commanding Officer of
USS Kawishiwi (AO-146) relieving Captain G.C. EVANS, Jr. USN. In July 1959 the ship again visited Hilo, Hawaii.

KAWISHIWI sailed for the fifth time to the Western Pacific on 4 August 1959. On 9 August, 1959 she crossed the International Date Line and again entered the Domain of the Golden Dragon. This cruise was also in the midst of Communist pressure, this time in Laos. However, the show of strength by the United States averted a crisis. In September the Commanding Officer was designated CTU 96.7.2 in company with three other ships for the purpose of typhoon evasion. In October 1959 the ship joined units of TG 77.5 to participate in a search and rescue mission for a downed aviator.

  After visiting Sasebo, Okinawa, and Subic Bay,
KAWISHIWI won her first Meritorious Conduct Ashore Award in Hong Kong for exemplary conduct of personnel ashore during the ship's visit from 23 October to 30 October 1959. From Hong Kong, KAWISHIWI returned to Sasebo via the Formosa Straits. The ship crossed the Date Line on 20 November and arrived in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 23 November 1959.

  Regular shipyard overhaul, conducted every two years, took place between 18 December 1959 and 13 March 1960. Then refresher training lasted until 24 April 1960.

KAWISHIWI's sixth deployment to the Western Pacific began on 3 May 1960, when she had the First Anglico Marine Detachment and equipment embarked. Operations with the Seventh Fleet began on 21 May 1960. On 5 June, while still overseas, KAWISHIWI was nominated for the 1960 NEY Award (given annually to the ship serving the best food afloat in the U.S. Navy).

  Enroute to her recreational visit to Hong Kong,
KAWISHIWI replenished units of the Taiwan Patrol. In Hong Kong, during the week of 1 to 6 July, the ship was awarded her second consecutive Meritorious Conduct Ashore Award.

  On 11 July 1960 Captain H.A. SEYMOUR, USN relived Captain G.P.JOYCE, USN, to become
KAWISHIWI's sixth Commanding Officer. Besides visiting Hong Kong, the ship also saw Sasebo, Yokosuka, and Subic Bay, during this deployment. She returned to Hawaii on 22 August 1960.

  The usual local underway operations ensued until 25 September 1960, when the ship received emergency sailing orders and was conducting classified replenishment operations until her return to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 4 October 1960. More classified replenishment operations took place between 8 and 10 October 1960. During October and November underway training, gunnery exercises, and special training operations under ASDEFORPAC were conducted.

  On 12 and 13 December 1960,
KAWISHIWI received grades of excellent in all departments following annual Supply Inspection and Administrative Inspection of the ship. Following predeployment, preparations and training, KAWISHIWI departed for the seventh time to the Far East on 6 February 1961, and began Seventh Fleet operations on 14 February 1961. In addition to standing watch over the tense situation in Laos, the Fleet engaged in SEATO exercises in April.

  Replenishment operations out of Sasebo, Yokosuka, and Subic Bay continued until the week of 2 through 8 June 1961, when the ship, again in Hong Kong for a recreational visit, won its third Consecutive Meritorious Conduct Ashore Award for having no personnel put on report during the
KAWISHIWI's visit there. The ship was nominated for the NEY Award again during June 1961.

  After crossing the date line on 23 June, the ship arrived back "home" in Pearl Harbor on 26 June 1961. From 28 June 1961 until 30 July 1961 the ship had a shipyard restricted availability.

  On 19 July 1961 Captain L.R. VASEY, USN, relieved Captain H.A.SEYMOUR, USN, as Commanding officer of the ship. Refresher training was conducted 31 July through 10 August 1961.

  On 10 August 1961, all dependents of crew members had an opportunity to go sailing" on
KAWISHIWI for a day. Local Firsts Fleet operations followed until 23 October 1961, when the ship again sailed for a Seventh Fleet deployment, her eighth.

  Operating from Guam, Sasebo, and Yokosuka, the ship was involved in many replenishment operations during November and December of 1961 and January 1962. In Hong Kong again during the week of 13 January 1962,
KAWISHIWI was awarded the Meritorious Conduct Ashore Award by Servicemen's Guides Association for the 4th time in a row. She continued fueling units of the 7th fleet as the need for peacekeeping missions by the Navy intensified. On 22 February 1962, the ship crossed the International Date Line (Eastward) arriving in Pearl Harbor on 26 February, 1962.

  From late March until 28 July 1962 the ship underwent shipyard overhaul restricted availability. In the shipyard in June 1962,
USS Kawishiwi (AO-146) was awarded the Ney Award for serving the best food afloat anywhere in the United States Navy.

  Captain F.T. COOPER, USN, relieved Captain L.R. VASEY, USN, as
KAWISHIWI's eighth Commanding Officer on 9 August 1962. Refresher training was conducted in August. The ship received an overall grade of excellent.

KAWISHIWI's next Seventh Fleet deployment, her ninth, began on 17 September 1962. During the 4-1/2 month cruise the ship visited Sasebo, Yokosuka, Okinawa, Subic Bay, and Hong Kong. Tours were sponsored of the areas visited. On 14 October 1962 the ship participated in an important replenishment near Okinawa involving many units of the Amphibious Forces.

  On 3 December 1962
KAWISHIWI sailed from Subic Bay to carry out a special classified assignment. It was later canceled, but the following message was received from Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet on 7 December; "I am pleased at the speed and thoroughness with which you prepared to execute an important assignment. Such readiness is indicative of effective organization and fine leadership."

  During the week of 10 to 17 December 1962 in Hong Kong,
KAWISHIWI became the first ship ever to win the Hong Kong Meritorious Conduct Ashore Award for the fifth consecutive time. From Chief of Naval Operations the ship received a "Well Done".

  On 5 February 1963 the ship returned to Pearl harbor after a 142 day cruise, during which Christmas and New Year's Day were spent in Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines.

  After returning from WestPac,
KAWISHIWI took on six million gallons of contaminated fuel from the U.S. Naval Supply Center, Pearl Harbor, and by heating it, successfully completed the reclamation project and returned the de-contaminated fuel to the Supply Center. This project resulted in a savings to the Navy of a very large sum of money.

On 8 and 9 April the ship underwent its annual Supply Inspection, receiving an overall grade of Outstanding. The results of the Administrative Inspection, held on 11 and 12 April 1963, were excellent in all departments. (end Harry Ford record)

KAWISHIWI was privileged to be the only Fleet Oiler in the Pacific Fleet to make a “clean sweep” of the 1963 competitive drills and exercises. KAWISHIWI was the proud winner of the “E” for Excellence in Battle Efficiency, the Communications “C”, the Gunnery “E”, the Hong Kong Good Conduct Award, plus “Outstanding” evaluation of Supply Department functions.

 As military operations in Vietnam grew, i.e. 1964 & 1965, in intensity, her duty in the Orient concentrated more and more on refueling the Navy's ships which were fighting Communist aggression in Southeast Asia. After devoting most of the first half of 1966 to servicing ships off Vietnam, she returned to Pearl Harbor 15 July. Operations in the mid-Pacific ensued until she headed back to the Western Pacific 27 March 1967. Kawishiwi arrived Subic Bay 12 April and refueled the ships of the mighty 7th Fleet through mid-1967.

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