An Oiler to Remember

Kawishiwi was created to refuel a whole task force without other oiler support, all by herself. Six of these Neosho Class Oilers were built in the 1950's during the COLD WAR, just after the Korean Conflict brought out the need for these ships.

She had 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. This the same fuel capacity as the new T-AKA-Class Dry Cargo/Ammunition ships who are much larger for other reasons.

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. She was steam turbine driven and equipped with two boilers, twin screws, and a single rudder. She was manned with a compliment of 254 to 324 Navy personnel.

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 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 has been involved with many historical encounters. The first being in the
Taiwan (Formosa) Straits. She was not a man-of-war ship but she was there to re-fuel our ships guarding the Straits and did receive her share of warnings from China. This was on her first cruises of the Pacific.

•    KAWISHIWI's 2nd encounter was in 1970 when
Apollo 13 splashed down in the south pacific. She provided logistics support and kept the task force going. She also was trained to pick up space craft if other ships designed for the task, where unable to perform.

•   KAWISHIWI's 3rd encounter was a 1973 cruise in the Indian Ocean, supporting USS Hancock's CVA-19 turning over her planes to Isreal as a result of the Yom Kippur War. Kawishiwi made the entire round trip, refueling the task force as needed, without being refueled herself. She never even made port.

•    KAWISHIWI's 4th encounter, and the most important, was participating in the 1975 Evacuation of Saigon. After keeping the task force fueled, which included the fuel for helicopters flying in and out of Saigon, she and other ships of the task force, picked up refugees and took them to the Philippines.