Decommissioning - 1979
by Daniel R. Hilbert, CWO4

The decommissioning took place in Oakland, California on 10 October 1979, a beautiful clear sunny Wednesday morning.  Captain Jack C. Presley was the Commanding Officer.  The remarks were given by Rear Admiral J. H. Morris who was Deputy Commander of  Naval Surface Forces, Pacific Fleet.

View the Decommissioning Program

The ship was turned over to the Military Sealift Command (tankers) and Captain Charles S. Christensen, Jr. was the Commander of Military Sealift Command Pacific who took charge of the Ship.  I recall that during the process of decommissioning Kawishiwi that the Military sealift command had there people go with our people of the ship to learn and to assume the duties so that the process of turning the ship over went smoother.See revisions described on the Aft-02 Deck.

The sea lift command had to learn all about the ship and its numerous componets.  As i recall the process went very smooth and it helped because most of there folks had the experience at sea and on various ships.  I was the leading Petty Officer of Repair Division and Damage Control Division so I had the responsibility to show and teach the sea lift command folks all about our installed and portable fire fighting and damage control equipment.  It was a busy time for all of us on the decommissiong crew.  We all worked 14-18 hour days during the last month of commission service.

On the morning of the decommissioning the crew had completly moved off the ship.  The ceremony was held on the main deck right aft of the forward deck house.  The crew was lined up and after the official remarks by the Admiral, Captain Presely and Captain Christensen the word was passed to depart the ship.  The crew marched off and the last one off the ship was Captain Presley who signed the last deck log entry and then he took the deck log.  The sea lift command folks had already manned the ship and the critical watch stations.  The commissioning pennent was hauled down and given to the captain.  Then the word was passed that Kawishiwi (Captain Presely) was departing.

The sea lift command then passed their words that the ship was manned by them.  On the pier there was a small get together of the crew and some refreshments and then the goodbyes and everyone departed.  It was a sad day for me to see the old gal just lying there and no longer part of the United States Navy but the Military Sea Lift
command now had control over her.

One of my last responsibilites (as it was all the Leading Petty Officers of the ship) was to walk thru our spaces to make sure that everything was completed.  Early that morning I did that and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  To this day I remember going into the berthing compartment and just standing there and recalled all the memories of the folks that occupied that space and all the laughter, the bickering, the fighting, the comradrie and the card playing that went on there, and of course sleeping when necessary.  It was then I realized that its not the departing of the ship that is sad but the mighty folks who manned her decks, ran the steam plant, stood the watches, refueled other ships and commanded from the bridge.  It was people who made the ship to what it was and the folks who manned the USS Kawishiwi from the time she was commissioned on  6 July 1955 to 10 October 1979 can be justifibly proud of the time spent stationed on board "Special K" and "Mighty K" as she was affectionatly known.

Yes, I must have stood there for quite a few moments contemplating what was. I now am proud to be apart of Kawishiwi memories.

The last awards the ship received were Battle Efficiency E which was proudly displayed on her stack, Gunnery award, Deck Seamanship and Engineering E-award.  

Ken Manley, certified the Fire Detecting and Extinguishing equipment prior to Kawishiwi;s operation by the MSC crew. Read Ken's information about the ship yards that worked on the Kawishiwi and others now moored in Suisun Bay. It includes the story about the death of the ship yards owner, Roger Picchi.

 Photo after Decommissioning

After Decommission History 
The Kawishiwi was under command of the USN for 24.3 years and stayed with the Military Sealift Command for 15.1 years. She was striken from service on November 7, 1994, serving a total of 39.4 years.

USNS AWARDS    NE 01-OCT-1981  to 30-SEP-1982        NE 01-OCT-1989  to 30-SEP-1990

4 August 1989 

Owner;  NAVY
Operator;  MSC/CIVMAR (Military Sealift Command / Civilian Mariners) 

23 July 1989, an estimated 6,000-8,000 gallons of DFM was spilled from the USNS Kawishiwi (AO 146) while loading DFM. Two 10" cast-iron valve flanges had separated from the DFM Pump House. The spill reached San Diego Bay through a storm drain. The cause of the separation of the flange was not determined.

Nov. 15 1989 product "RUST DESTROYER®" is hereby approved for compromised surface service aboard MSC ships. This approval is based upon successful performance to date in general touch-up and repair usage of RUST DESTROYER® aboard USNS VEGA and an engine room bilge test patch aboard USNS KAWISHIWI.

Auxiliary, Merchant Marine...
   Neosho class (Naval Fleet Oilers)  1  TAO 143 Neosho  2  TAO 146 Kawishiwi  3  TAO 148 Ponchatoula

1991 - STERETT sailed for Sasebo, Japan on 17 March and arrived on 19 March. She spent four days inport before departing for Subic Bay on 22 March. She joined USNS KAWISHIWI (TAO 146) on 23 March for mutual training enroute Subic. 

31 July 1992     T-AO 146 Kawishiwi     To MarAd 1 May 1999, Suisun Bay