A member of the Navy’s Wichita-class replenishment oil tankers, the USS Kansas City allowed Naval vessels to deploy all over the world for extended periods of time by providing at-sea refueling. Constructed by the General Dynamics Corporation of Quincy, Massachusetts, this vessel was commissioned on June 6, 1970. The Kansas City joined the Pacific Fleer after shakedown in the Atlantic.
Action in the Vietnam War
Shortly after joining the Pacific Fleet, the USS Kansas City was deployed to Vietnam, reaching the nation in the summer of 1971. During her service in Vietnam, between June 1971 and November 1972, the Kansas City took part in three military campaigns. During these operations, the tanker refueled Navy combat vessels taking part in the Vietnamese Counteroffensive, the first Vietnam Consolidation and the Vietnam Ceasefire.
After the war
Following her service in the Vietnam War, the Kansas City participated in several peacetime missions throughout the Pacific, sustaining damage in the Philippines after colliding with the destroyer, the Henry B. Wilson. Later, during combat duty in the Gulf War, the Kansas City again collided with a vessel. This time, she struck the Harry W. Hill, which caused damage to both vessels. Although the ship sustained significant damage to her hull and other interior and exterior areas, the crew was able to sail the vessel to Dubai for repairs.
Following the Gulf War, in 1993 the Kansas City sailed to the east coast of Africa, supporting Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. This mission was among the Kansas City’s last and after returning to the United States the following year, she was decommissioned. Her official date of decommissioning was October 7, 1994.
The USS Kansas City was awarded three battle stars and two Navy Unit Commendations for her service in the Vietnam War.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, naval tankers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.