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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Lost to enemy action, 7 April 1943

USS Kanawha (AO-1)
ex
USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) (1915 - 1920)


Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons


Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive - 7 April 1943 Tulagi Harbor) - World War I Victory Medal (with Transport clasp) - American Defense Service Medal (with Fleet clasp)
Bottom Row - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1) - World War II Victory Medal

Personal Awards

Purple Heart (19-KIA, 7 April 1943 Tulagi Harbor)

Kanawha Class Fleet Oiler:
  • Laid down, 8 December 1913, at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA.
  • Launched, 11 July 1914
  • Commissioned USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13), 5 June 1915, LCDR. Richard Werner, USNRF, in command
  • Designated (AO-1), 17 July 1920
  • Decommissioned, 18 December 1929
  • Laid up in the Reserve Fleet
  • Recommissioned, 5 June 1934
  • Final Disposition, sunk by Japanese aircraft off Tulagi Harbor, British Solomon Islands, north east of Soghonangola Island at the entrance to Tulagi Harbor. She was sunk at 0400, 8 April 1943 with the loss of 19 men
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 19 May 1943
  • USS Kanawha received one battle star for World War II service
    Specifications:
    Displacement 5,723 t.(lt) 14,800 t.(fl)
    Length 475' 7"
    Beam 56' 3"
    Draft 26' 8"
    Speed 14 kts.
    Complement 317
    Armament
    two single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mounts
    two twin 40mm AA gun mounts
    two twin 20mm AA gun mounts
    Propulsion
    four boilers
    two Vertical triple-expansion engines with a 42" stroke
    twin propellers

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Source
    Kanawha 366k Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) ready launching at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA., 5 July 1914.
    Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum File AO 1 1480-7-14 a US Navy photo now in the collections of the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum
    Darryl L. Baker
    Kanawha 65k Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) launching at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA., 11 July 1914.
    US Navy photo
    Darryl L. Baker
    Kanawha 144k Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) launching at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA., 11 July 1914.
    US Navy photo
    Forest Cotton surviving crew member 1943
    Kanawha 1972k One of Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13)'s two main engines being removed from building 87 at Mare Island, 11 August 1914. Note that about 12 feet of the doorway has been removed for clearance.
    US Navy photo MINSY 15538-8-1914
    Darryl L. Baker
    Kanawha 2357k Hoisting one of Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13)'s two main engines aboard the ship for installation at Navy Yard Mare Island, Vallejo, CA., 14 August 1914.
    US Navy photo MINSY 15534-8-1914
    Darryl L. Baker
    Kanawha 2342k Preparing to lower one of Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13)'s two main engines into place aboard the ship for installation at Navy Yard Mare Island, Vallejo, CA., 14 August 1914.
    US Navy photo MINSY 15539-8-1914
    Darryl L. Baker
    Kanawha 194k A deck view looking aft of USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship No. 13) taken at Mare Island Navy Yard, 22 June 1915, with sister USS Maumee (Fuel Ship No. 14) fitting out alongside, inboard. The four masts, each with two long booms, may originally have been intended to handle the 2,182 tons of coal that these two ships were designed to carry as an alternative to their normal cargo of oil. The requirement to carry coal in later ships of this type was deleted in August 1915 and hatches suitable for handling coal are not visible in this deck view.
    US National Archives, RG-19-E, Photo # 19-N-8-12-35 a US Navy Bureau of Ships photo now in the collections of the US National Archives.
    Mike Green
    Kanawha 213k USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) heading down the Mare Island Channel, 23 June 1915.
    Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum File AO 1 63443-6-15 a US Navy photo now in the collections of the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum
    Darryl L. Baker
    Kanawha 75k Aft starboard quarter photo of USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) off Mare Island, 28 June 1915. Note that her bridge superstructure is forward of her forward mast. Some time between this photo and photos in 1919 the bridge was relocated aft of the forward mast.
    Navy Yard Mare Island photo # AO 1 1912-6-15, 6/28/15
    Darryl Baker
    Kanawha 77k USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) at anchor, location unknown, circa 1915-1917.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 105293, courtesy Shipscribe.com.
    Mike Green
    Kanawha 159k USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) ship's officers on the quarterdeck. From left to right. LCDR William Henry Lee, LT. Winquist, Ensign Kendrick and clerk Berustein. The back of the photo was written on by LCDR Lee and reads "Here is my Strategy Board and a portion of the Quarter-Deck rear 4" gun mount. Kanawha anchored where engagement between the Monitor and Merrimac took place in 1864. Winquist, Kendrick and the clerk, Berustein. Hampton Roads March twenty-eight '16". The other portion reads: "Oh you four eyes! not SIX tho!!" refers to LCDR Lee's reference to both his and the photo's recipient wearing eye glasses. Dick Hirtle
    Kanawha 58k USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) underway, circa 1919, location unknown. Robert Hurst
    Kanawha 205k USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) in Drydock #2, Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA., 20 November 1919. Dave Wright
    Kanawha 74k USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) in drydock at the Philadelphia Navy Yard shortly before leaving NOTS to join the train. Throughout WWI USS Kanawha carried oil and seaplanes to Europe.
    US Navy Photo # NR& L (M) 1957 from DANFS.
    Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret
    Kanawha 115k USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) in drydock at the Philadelphia Navy Yard shortly before leaving NOTS to join the train. Throughout WWI USS Kanawha carried oil and seaplanes to Europe.
    US Navy Photo from DANFS.
    Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret
    Kanawha 41k USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship #13) moored at San Diego, 23 February 1920. Dave Wright
    Kanawha 80k Some of USS Kanawha's crew (and mascot) while enroute to Coronado Island in the ship's launch, 11 September 1920. Dave Wright
    Kanawha 283k USS Kanawha (AO-1) entering the Panama Canal, circa late-1920. Dave Wright
    Kanawha 57k USS Kanawha at Banderas Bay, Mexico, 2 January 1921. Dave Wright
    Kanawha 182k USS Kanawha at La Union, Salvador, 10 January 1921. Note the seaplane moored to her stern. Dave Wright
    Kanawha 111k USS Kanawha at La Union, Salvador, 11 January 1921. Dave Wright
    Kanawha 62k USS Kanawha at anchor, date and location unknown.
    Photo from "U.S.Warships of World War One" with permission from the author Paul H. Silverstone.
    Robert Hurst
    Kanawha 72k Broadside view of USS Kanawha (AO-1) at anchor in Hawaiian waters, April 1925.
    Navy photo # AO 1 009-4-25.
    Darryl Baker
    Kanawha 38k Photo of USS Kanawha (AO-1) from a mid 1920-5 scrapbook of a Hawaii cruise of the USS S-42. Ric Hedman
    Kanawha 198k USS Kanawha (AO-1) refueling USS Texas (BB-35), date and location unknown.
    US National Archives photo # 80-G-83099, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives.
    David Merrill
    USS Canisteo (AO-99) Web Site
    Kanawha 91k USS Kanawha (AO-1) with thirteen destroyers alongside, off San Diego, CA., during the early 1920s. Ships present are (from left to right):
    USS Meade (DD-274),
    USS Evans (DD-78),
    USS Kennedy (DD-306),
    USS Aaron Ward (DD-132),
    USS Woolsey (DD-77),
    USS Wickes (DD-75),
    USS Buchanan (DD-131),
    USS Kanawha (AO-1),
    USS Farquhar (DD-304),
    USS Paul Hamilton (DD-307),
    USS Thompson (DD-305),
    USS Reno (DD-303),
    USS Stoddert (DD-302)
    and
    USS Philip (DD-76)
    Photographed by Bunnell, 414 E Street, San Diego.
    US Navy photo # NH 98029 A US Naval Historical Center photo for the collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold, USN.
    US Naval Historical Center
    Kanawha 98k USS Kanawha (AO-1) at anchor early 1920s, location unknown.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 77266
    Mike Green
    Kanawha 194k Fueling tests conducted between USS Kanawha (AO-1) and USS Arizona (BB-39) in the mid-1920s. (Top) Kanawha playing out towing line. (Lower left) The steam-powered tension engine was a special device installed on Kanawha so that the fuel lines would not drag in the water while fueling astern. (Lower right) The crew sets the steel tension line.
    US Navy photo and text from "Gray Steel and Black Oil: Fast Tankers and Replenishment at Sea in the U.S. Navy, 1912-1995", by Thomas Wildenberg. Published by Naval Institute Press Annapolis, Maryland
    Robert Hurst
    Kanawha 83k USS Arizona (BB-39) is in tow while fuel is transferred from USS Kanawha (AO-1) via the astern method. Note how the steel tension wire keeps the fuel hose from dipping into the sea.
    US Navy photo and text from "Gray Steel and Black Oil: Fast Tankers and Replenishment at Sea in the U.S. Navy, 1912-1995", by Thomas Wildenberg. Published by Naval Institute Press Annapolis, Maryland
    Robert Hurst
    Kanawha 108k Starboard quarter view of USS Kanawha (AO-1) photographed circa the early 1920s. Her bridge was moved back between the first two masts, possibly at Philadelphia Navy Yard in early 1919.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command. Photo # NH 103332, courtesy Shipscribe.com.
    Robert Hurst
    Kanawha 116k USS Kanawha (AO-1) under way, date and location unknown. Forest Cotton surviving crew member 1943
    Kanawha 125k USS Kanawha (AO-1) near the Mare Island Navy Yard, 6 February 1942. While being overhauled she lost her third mast. She retained her four 4"/50 guns while adding some anti-aircraft guns. Note the triangular flanges reinforcing her narrow bridge.
    US National Archives, RG-19-LCM. Photo # 19-N-28183 a US Navy Bureau of Ships photo now in the collections of the US National Archives, courtesy Shipscribe.com.
    Robert Hurst
    Kanawha 78k USS Kanawha (AO-1), probably at Noumea, New Caledonia, as seen from USS Wasp (CV-7) on the eve of the Guadalcanal-Tulagi invasion. Photo is dated 4 August 1942. Other ships present include, at right, USS San Juan (CL-54), an old "flush-deck" destroyer in center, and in the distance a heavy cruiser (left) and a transport (right).
    US National Archives photo # 80-G-K-526, a US Navy photo now in the collections of the US National Archives.
    US Naval Historical Center
    Kanawha 90k Broadside view of USS Kanawha (AO-1) off Mare Island, 2 January 1943, in her final configuration.
    Navy Yard Mare Island photo # AO 1 51-1-43, 1/2/43.
    Darryl Baker
    Kanawha 106k Off centerline view of USS Kanawha (AO-1) off Mare Island, 2 January 1943, in her final configuration. Her four 4"/50 guns have been replaced by two 5"/51 guns, both aft in the enlarged 4" gun sponsons.
    US National Archives, RG-19-LCM. Photo # 19-N-39486, a US Navy Bureau of Ships photo now in the collections of the US National Archives, courtesy Shipscribe.com.
    Darryl Baker
    Kanawha 57k USS Kanawha (AO-1) on fire at Tulagi Harbor, Solomon Islands, 7 April 1943 after being attacked by Japanese aircraft. Forest Cotton surviving crew member 1943
    Kanawha 48k USS Kanawha (AO-1) on fire at Tulagi Harbor, Solomon Islands, 7 April 1943 after being attacked by Japanese aircraft. Forest Cotton surviving crew member 1943
    Kanawha 106k USS Kanawha (AO-1) on fire at Tulagi Harbor, Solomon Islands, 7 April 1943 after being attacked by Japanese aircraft. Forest Cotton surviving crew member 1943
    Kanawha 59k USS Kanawha (AO-1) on fire at Tulagi Harbor, Solomon Islands, 7 April 1943 after being attacked by Japanese aircraft. Forest Cotton surviving crew member 1943
    Kanawha 103k In Memory of the 19 USS Kanawha (AO-1) crew members lost at Tulagi Harbor, Solomon Islands, 7 April 1943. Forest Cotton surviving crew member 1943

    USS Kanawha (AO-1)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01LCDR. Werner, Richard5 June 1915 - 28 April 1917
    02CDR. Dowling, Otto Carl28 April 1917 - November 1918
    03LCDR. Werner, Richard (Return from Sick Leave)November 1918 - 21 July 1919
    04CDR. McBain, David Arthur, USNRF21 July 1919 - ?
    05CDR. Smith, Charles Earle8 June 1923 - 18 June 1924
    06CDR. Shipp, Earl Roof18 June 1924 - ?
    07CDR. Alexander, George Andrew1925 - 11 June 1927
    08CDR. Scubber, Randolph Perry, USN (1906)11 June 1927 - 29 June 1928
    09CDR. Keller, Charles Stanley29 June 1928 - 18 December 1929
     Decommissioned18 December 1929 - 5 June 1934
    10CDR. Mahoney, John Joseph1936 - ?
    11CDR. Reuse, Harry J. (Photo as Warrant Machinist WO-1)1939 - 1940
    12CDR. Townsend, Rockwell Justus1940 - 1941
    13CDR. Reed, Kendall Sturtevant :RADM1941 - 26 October 1942
    14CDR. Cross John, Gilbreth26 October 1942 - 5 January 1943
    15LCDR. Bock, Brainard Norton, USN (1924)5 January 1943- 7 April 1943
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information
    Fleet Tankers Association
    U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation - Navy Log

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    Report of Action to Commander South Pacific Fleet
    Location of the wreck of USS Kanawha (AO-1) in Iron Bottom Sound
    Back To The Navsource Photo Archives Main Page Back To The Service Force Ship Type Index Back To The Fleet Oiler (AO) Photo Index
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 3 March 2017