Lia Spilmon Burris ET1 (SW)
USNS Kawishiwi T-AO-146 Crew Member; 1990-1992
KAWISHIWI, I had been in
the navy 8 years with shore billets. My choice from ET school was
either shore NEC or Tacan in Alaska. So I picked the Shore based
NEC in Fort Gorden, GA. After
very slow advancement, my shore NEC going obsolete and
having 1 year left to serve, orders came with 5 choices. I
came from Wisconsin and wanted to see someplace tropical. One choice,
USNS anywhere in the world fit that. The other 4 were 3 year shore
I waited about 2 months not knowing what ship I would get or where I would be going. My orders came in and the Name sounded so familiar that I was asking everyone "Do you know anyone on the Kawishiwi." and they would say Kawishi-what. I finally asked my dad. He said, "don't you remember me taking you on a tour of my ship." I was three. I only remember my mom not liking the grated decks while she was wearing a dress. I remember the diesel fuel smell. That smell always reminds me of the Kawishiwi and it makes me think of my Dad because he smelled like the fuel when he came home.
transferred and I went to
school in San Diego, California. Later I flew up to Oakland to wait for
my port of call. They call the room where we sat all day, the
Fishbowl. It is a room inside the building with a window.
Everyone walks by and looks at you. Sometimes we
were lucky and got jobs to do while we waited. They sent me back down
to San Diego. I spent a few days checking in and then on Kawishiwi
which pulled out on Monday. I did not know it but the water was
more bouncy than usual. To me I thought that was normal because
it was my first time underway ever.
found out we would be out for a
couple of weeks because we were to refuel the Kitty
Hawk. She had just passed through the Panama Canal, was
traveling up the coast and going right by San Diego and not
I found out we were to refuel her and that we were chasing them around
a hurricane. They were trying to set a destination in the ocean that
would be calm enough and outside of shipping for the refueling to take
place. That seemed to be very difficult. Everyone was asking me
every ten minutes if I was ok. Here I thought from all the
stories that it was normal for the ship to be moving around that
much. I did not know that normally the Kawishiwi rides very
smoothly. I was pleasantly surprised later.
favorite picture that I
took my self of a carrier is the Midway turning around in Pearl
with the crew on the deck for the turn over with the Independence. They
were the only carrier at the time enough to make a U turn. "
spent most of the time with the Fleet Training Group out of San Diego
until the Gulf Crisis when they sent us to Mid Pac in Hawaii.
unreped ships heading to the Gulf. She was getting refitted to go
into the Gulf when the War ended. We were back to
is when Kawishiwi headed to
"The navy kept me busy with all of its new equipment while keeping older equipment. Sometimes I felt I had to be a Super Yeoman as well as an Electronics Tech. ET came to mean "everything tech" especially when they started putting electronic and computer controls on everything. On my last ship, USS Frank Cable AS 40, we were given jobs like, Welder machines, garbage compactors and stuff like that. It was crazy. " The Frank Cable was about as long and wide as Kawishiwi but bounced all over the place. It did not have all those nice deep oil tanks.
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