Kawishiwi Oil Tanks
by Jim Barton, Jacksonville, Florida

When Vern created new profile drawings of the tanks and posted them, he sent comments out on what he learned about the Kawishiwi. See Drawing Midship Centerline Profile. Click to other views.
Vern comments were:
1.    There was smoke generating machinery on the fantail.
2.      There were several Fuel tanks forward of the main Tank No.1
3.      Pump rooms were in the bottom of the ship.
4.      The tanks in frames 42 to 46 were next to bottom skin of ship, no inner hull
5.      There are ballast tanks in the very bow of ship.

Jim Barton
For what it is worth, here are some comments. Maybe Jim Campbell remembers some of what I am going to say as well.

1. I don’t recall our using the smoke generating equipment ever during my tour (1975-1977). I remember the room located aft but I can’t remember if the equipment was still there or not. I want to say that it was not there and the room was being used for stores but I don’t remember. I’d be curious if someone can recall that. If we used it, it would have been during REFTRA in February 1975 but I can’t remember.

2. The fuel tanks you refer to forward of the first set of Cargo tanks were fuel oil storage tanks. There were four fuel oil tanks forward. There were also four tanks aft of the last set of cargo tanks. These tanks were for own ship fuel. While the aft tanks were our normal fuel oil service tanks and the forward sets our normal fuel oil storage tanks, any of the tanks could be used either way. The innermost of the tanks aft were the normal fuel oil service tanks and the outer tanks were normally storage. Our normal configuration for split plant operations was to align the inner starboard aft tank to number one boiler and the inner port aft tank to number two boiler; or, we could cross connect and provide fuel from both service tanks to both boilers (not a good practice given the potential for losing the load on both boilers at the same time). I had one particular MMCM who used to like to steam cross-connected because he believed casualty control was better facilitated that way. When we instituted the engineering operational sequencing system and engineering operational casualty control procedures on our own initiative in 1976, we set up for split plant operations as a matter of practice. We would normally refuel ourselves from the cargo tanks to the storage tanks forward (we usually did that from the number 8 cargo tanks aft). Then we would fill the outermost aft tanks. We could shift suction from any of the aft tanks.

Kawishiwi, as you can see in the diagrams had 24 cargo tanks. We prided ourselves in giving the customer a good drink of fuel on the first squirt. So, we used the port and starboard 8 tanks (8 wings) as “slop tanks.”  We would align the fuel probes back into the 8 wing tanks and cycle the fuel before pumping to the customer each day we refueled. Any sediment or condensation would wind up in those wing tanks. Those tanks had stripping piping. So we would strip the bad stuff overboard. Of course, we charged the customer for everything so we would occasionally (more often than not) use the perfectly good stripped fuel in the 8 wings for our own ship bunker fuel. No wonder we got good gas mileage!

The 4, 5 and 6 centerline tanks held aviation fuel. I don’t know whether jet fuel was planned when the ship was first designed but aviation gasoline was very prevalent in the fleet for the piston aircraft in the 50’s. Note the cofferdams installed around those tanks separating them from the cargo tanks. When the ship was first designed I think there was a requirement to maintain all the cofferdams with inert gas because of the high volatility of aviation gasoline. Sometime in the 60’s a SHIPALT was completed, I believe, which added an additional cofferdam not shown in these diagrams between number 4 and 5 centerline tanks. At the same time the Navy shifted from carrying NSFO to Navy Distillate (later Diesel Fuel Marine which it is called today) and a number of changes were made to the cargo pumps and piping arrangements. Interestingly ND or DFM had about the same viscosity as JP-5 and their flash points were close (JP-5 being around 120-130 degrees F and ND/DFM around 140 F or so. JP-5 was therefore, a much less volatile fuel than AVGAS. Interestingly, our boilers could burn JP-5 as well as ND/DFM and we did from time to time because the hotter burn rate actually cleaned off the sprayer plates and helped on the soot side of the furnace.

But, because there were still piston aircraft in the fleet, one tank on Kawishiwi (4C) like all the other fleet tankers was supposed to be certified for AVGAS. There are unique requirements for transferring AVGAS and Condition Red was set, non-sparking tools used, etc. For years Kawishiwi didn’t carry AVGAS there but JP-5 instead as the number of aircraft carriers carrying piston aircraft decreased. Here my memory fails me a bit but I believe just prior to the 1975 deployment. We were required to re-certify the 4C tank for AVGAS. That meant the cofferdams had to be filled with and hold inert gas, and the tank top, which was unique and sealed differently had to be fixed. Once certified we loaded up with the stuff to support the USS Hancock on the deployment. The problem with carrying AVGAS beyond the pain in transfer and Condition Red was the fact that we couldn’t moor along normal piers with it on board. On deployment if we were entering Subic we had to anchor or moor at the fuel pier out by Cubi Point. Prior to a ship yard repair availability, we had to first head to the fuel pier, offload the AVGAS, and go out to sea and clean/gas-free the tank by filling it with water before we could proceed to one of the normal piers. Once alongside the Hancock transferring AVGAS, Kawishiwi suffered a gyro repeater failer and we nearly collided. The fuel riser on Hancock was ripped from the deck and sparks were flying everywhere as our span wires broke. We secured pumping, went to general quarters and quickly broke away. Fortunately, we escaped with no explosion. The damage sustained was largely to the rigs. The noxious smell of AVGAS was everywhere. The skippers of Kawishiwi and Hancock did a great job in avoiding a major collision. Had the AVGAS gone off, we would have had a major disaster.

The other thing on that deployment that irked me was the fact that we were required to install refrigerated CONEX boxes on the O1 level so we could act like some kid of AFS or something. Of course, they maintained refrigeration through electric driven units. I had a cow about that. We ended up having to shut down those CONEX boxes any time we transferred AVGAS. On the whole deployment I don’t think we transferred AVGAS more than twice. What a pain!

3. You are right Kawishiwi’s pump rooms were enormous!

4. I didn’t remember about there being an inner hull or not for the forward storage tanks. If they didn’t have an inner/outer hull arrangement, that is not unusual for ship design, I don’t think.

5. To the best of my recollection, Kawishiwi had aft and forward peak tanks which could be used for ballasting or for fresh water storage. We normally kept them full of fresh water. Kawishiwi carried 180,000 gallons of fresh water as I remember and we would normally transfer from the peak tanks when we gave water to other ships. The forward set was not being used that way when I got on board. In my two years as Chief Engineer, I inspected those tanks twice (there was an annual inspection and/or clean requirement as I recall). We never ballasted the aft tank during my tour that I can remember but we did ballast out the forward tank once on the 1975 deployment after a major cargo transfer and during a storm to raise the bow slightly and improve stability. They could be salt water ballasted but I don’t recall ever having done that.

Jim Barton (1975-77)
April 24, 2004

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