USS Kishwaukee AOG-9 (1944-1974)
In Savage, Minnesota, on July 24, 1943, the USS Kishwaukee (AOG-9) was launched by the Cargill Shipyard. On May 27, 1944, this gasoline tanker was commissioned. The main responsibility of the Kishwaukee was to transport fuel to distant Navy stations and to fleet warships.
Service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam
On July 8, the Kishwaukee left Norfolk, Virginia, and headed towards Pearl Harbor. She spent two months along the central Pacific islands and then headed for the Philippine Islands to assist in the region. In October, the ship arrived in Leyte and began providing fuel for ships in the area. The Kishwaukee participated in the Philippine campaign until February 1, 1945. At that point, the ship headed for the Caroline Islands and Palau. In March, she headed for Ryukyus to provide fuel to ships involved in the Okinawa invasion. In December of 1945, the Kishwaukee headed for Sasebo, Japan. The ship served as the station tanker for six months before sailing to San Pedro, California, arriving on July 31, 1946.
The Kishwaukee continued serving with the U.S. Pacific Fleet between 1946 and 1950. She made several tours along the Central and South Pacific islands and the Far East. The ship provided fuel to areas throughout the Pacific Ocean for the duration of Korean War. At the end of the Korean War, she continued transporting fuel between Pearl Harbor, Alaska and the Pacific islands.
Between 1954 and 1957, the Kishwaukee continued her operations between Hawaii and the Marshall Islands. On December 11, 1957, the ship arrived in Astoria, Oregon. On April 2, 1958, she was decommissioned in Seattle, Washington. On July 1, 1960, her name was removed from the Naval Vessel Register. The Maritime Administration Reserve Fleet kept the ship until she was reactivated for the Vietnam War and put back on the Naval Vessel Register in October of 1965.
On September 1, 1966, the Kishwaukee was recommissioned and headed for Pearl Harbor, sailing out on December 5 for the Far East. Between January and April of 1967, the ship completed its duties from Da Nang, Vietnam, providing fuel for naval aircraft in the area. After a stop at Yokosuka, Japan, the ship returned to Pearl Harbor in May.
On January 15, 1970, the Kishwaukee was decommissioned at the Naval Station in Pearl Harbor. The USS Kishwaukee was once again removed from the Naval Vessel Register on August 1, 1974, this time permanently. She was sold and converted into a fishing vessel called the Vicky Rae, but was ultimately scrapped in China in 1997. For her military service, the USS Kishwaukee was awarded two battle stars for World War II and seven campaign stars for Vietnam.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some tankers and oilers also posed 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.