USS KAWISHIWI AO-146
A major support ship for the Seventh Fleet
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Serving USS KITTY HAWK CVA-63 and USS OZBOURN DD-846
From the 1966 Cruise book owned by Dick Elmore MM3......Click on above photo
...Read: "The First 13 years" from U.S. Printing Office
The Kawishiwi was one of the newest, fastest, and most modern of such ships for over 40 years. But to each man who sailed on her, way over 5000 men, she was so much more. During her deployment to the Far East, KAWISHIWI was their home away from home.  She was one of a group of six sister ships commonly known as Navy Super-Oilers, three of which served in the Pacific as vital members of the logistical lifeline that kept the Fleet mobile and ready to meet any challenge. All Navy oilers are named for United States rivers that bear American Indian names; thus KAWISHIWI is derived from the river of that name in the State of Minnesota.

This ship was designed for high speed replenishment of the fuel needs of our far-flung naval forces. This highly specialized evolution of underway replenishment can be carried on during daylight hours or under cover of night, and was not necessarily limited to the transfer of fuel and petroleum products; it had the capability of transferring to receiving ships; cargo, mail, passengers, and provisions, in addition to the primary products. These primary items were black oil, jet fuel, and aviation gasoline; it was not at all unusual to be pumping all these products simultaneously by making use of the many completely independent fueling rigs.

KAWISHIWI's consistent outstanding performance made her a pace-setter of the modern Navy. Fast and sleek with a "can do" spirit in the face of any situation, KAWISHIWI, as befit any beautiful lady, was proud of her "vital statistics."  She was 656 feet long, had a beam of 83 feet, displaced 38,000 tons at full load, and could steam up to twenty knots. Her liquid cargo capacity was in excess of 7,000,000 gallons, enough fuel to drive all the cars in the city of Los Angeles to New York and back again, or to keep a heavy cruiser continuously at sea for at least nine months. The past tense is used here because at the time of this writing, she is in Suisun Bay, CA; Row G, waiting to be scrapped.

KAWISHIWI was literally a city afloat. Her generators produced enough electrical power to meet the needs of a sizable community. she boasted such conveniences as a laundry, tailor shop, clothing store, soda fountain, ship's store, library, U.S. Post Office, bakery, machine shop, barber shop, hospital, and hobby shop.  The ship carried the most modern movie projection equipment, and nightly movies were part of the ship's routine both underway and in port. Though most ladies won't tell their age quite readily, KAWISHIWI's youth is no secret. She was built by the New York Shipbuilding Company of Camden, New Jersey, the keel was laid in October 1953, the same month Vern joined the Navy, she was launched in December 1954, and commissioned in July 1955, Vern was there.

Kawishiwi's original home port was Long Beach, CA, where she arrived after a voyage from the East Coast via the Panama Canal.
Pearl Harbor
was  home to the KAWISHIWI and her crew from January 1958 until July 1979. She was then, along with most other oilers from Hawaii,  turned over to the Military Sea Lift Command. She was put on Reserve Status in November of 1994.

Her record was proud one, before 1966, she had won the coveted Battle Efficiency Award in two consecutive years followed by two years as runner-up. After 1976 the award was renamed "Navy Battle E" which she won in 1977. She has a long record of awards, another, not on list was the NEY award. Justly deserving,  justly proud, KAWISHIWI men strived to present a picture of the Navy's finest. Known as the "SPECIAL K" as of 1976
Our officers and enlisted personnel came from nearly every state in the Union, and from the far-off territory of American Samoa as well. She also had a number of shipmate nationals of the Republic of the Philippines. This interesting mixture of racial and cultural backgrounds aboard ship was very appropriate to the cosmopolitan setting of Hawaii, and KAWISHIWI was proud indeed to carry the "ALOHA" spirit with her in calling at various ports throughout the vast Pacific.

In the same spirit we invite you to be an honorary KAWISHIWI shipmate and share with us our pride in a fine ship.  "Shipmate" is a term peculiar to the seafaring fraternity the world over; it is an all-embracing term that covers a multitude of human emotions but in KAWISHIWI, especially, it means that you're part of the heartbeat of a mighty ship.