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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Contributed by Mike Smolinski

Contributed by Al Grazevich

USS Kankakee (AO-39)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - Yankee - Tango - Lima
JANAP Tactical Voice Radio Call Sign - Expert (B)ravo - Section 6A of JANAP 119(F) 1968
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - China Service Medal (extended) - American Campaign Medal
Second Row - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (6) - World War II Victory Medal - Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia or Europe clasp)
Third Row - National Defense Service Medal - Korean Service Medal (1) - Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (1-Cuba, 1-Dominican Republic)
Fourth Row - Philippine Presidential Unit Citation - Korean Presidential Unit Citation - Philippine Liberation Medal (1)
Fifth Row - Philippine Independence Medal - United Nations Service Medal - Republic of Korea War Service Medal (retroactive)

Kennebec Class Fleet Oiler:
  • Laid down, date unknown, as SS Colina, a Maritime Commission type (T2-SA) tanker hull, under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 146), at Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, Sparrows Point, MD.
  • Launched, 24 January 1942
  • Acquired by the Navy, 31 March 1942
  • Commissioned USS Kankakee (AO-39), 4 May 1942, CAPT. W. H. Mayes in command
  • During World War II USS Kankakee was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and participated in the following campaigns:

    Asiatic-Pacific Campaigns
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Asiatic-Pacific Raids
    Palau, Yap, Ulithi, Woleai raid, 30 March to 1 April 1944
    Iwo Jima operation
    Assault and occupation of Iwo Jima, 15 February to 2 March 1945
    Marianas operation
    Capture and occupation of Saipan, 11 June to 10 August 1944
    Battle of Philippine Sea, 19 to 20 June 1944
    Okinawa Gunto operation
    5th & 3d Flt raids in support of Okinawa Gunto ops, 6 March to 11 June 1945
    Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 24 March to 30 June 1945
    Luzon operation
    Formosa attacks, 3 to 4, 15 and 21 January 1945
    Luzon attacks, 6 to 7 January 1945
    China Coast attacks, 16 January 1945
    Nansei Shoto attack, 22 January 1945
    3d Flt operations against Japan, 7 to 15 August 1945

  • Assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS), 26 February 1946
  • USS Kankakee was assigned to China service from 29 March to 1 June 1946
  • Assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS), 1 October 1949
  • USS Kankakee was assigned to Occupation the Far East and Europe for the following periods:

    Navy Occupation Service Medal
    Asia Europe
    2 September to 9 November 194528 March to 6 August 1951
    29 March to 1 June 19464 May to 21 November 1952
    10 to 23 January 194725 September 1953 to 30 April 1954
    7 to 14 March 19479 November 1954 to 19 May 1955
    1 to 8 May 1947 
    17 to 23 June 1947 

  • During the Korean War USS Kankakee participated in the following campaign:

    Korean War Campaign
    Campaign and Dates
    Second Korean Winter, 10 to 16 January 1952

  • Decommissioned, 30 November1955, at Philadelphia, PA.
  • Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet
  • Recommissioned, 20 December 1956 and assigned to MSTS, CDR. G. R. Wells in command
  • Decommissioned, 4 November 1957, at New York, N.Y.
  • Struck from the Naval Register, date unknown
  • Transferred to the Maritime Administration (MARAD), 21 November 1957, for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Beaumont, TX.
  • Reacquired and placed in reserve, 1 February 1959
  • Recommissioned, 29 November 1961, at New Orleans, LA., CAPT. M. O. Slater in command
  • Decommissioned, date unknown
  • Transferred to the Maritime Administration, 27 November 1968, for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River Group, Lee Hall, VA.
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 1 January 1973
  • USS Kankakee earned six battle stars for World War II service and one battle star for Korean War service
  • Final Disposition, sold for scrapping by MARAD, 20 April 1976 (PD-X-1004 dated 16 March 1976) for $306,500.00
    Displacement 6,013 t.(lt) 21,580 t.(fl)
    Length 501' 5"
    Beam 68'
    Draft 30' 9"
    Speed 16.7 kts.
    Officers 19
    Enlisted 242
    one single 5"/38 cal dual purpose gun mount
    four single 3"/50 cal dual purpose gun mounts
    four twin 40mm AA gun mounts
    four twin 20mm AA gun mounts
    Largest Boom Capacity 10 t.
    Cargo Capacity 14,750 DWT
    Oil 109,600 Bbls
    Gasoline 689,000 Gals
    Fuel Capacity
    NSFO 9,860 Bbls
    one General Electric steam turbine
    two Foster Wheeler "P" type boilers, 420psi 725°
    double General Electric Main Reduction Gears
    Ship's Service Generators
    two turbo-drive 300Kw 240V D.C.
    one turbo-drive 50Kw 240V D.C.
    single propeller, 12,000shp

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Source
    Kankakee 77k Forward port bow view of USS Kankakee (AO-39) departing Mare Island, 23 August 1942. Kankakee was undergoing repairs at Mare Island from 14 July to 23 August 1942.
    Navy Yard Mare Island photo # 5020-8-42, 8/23/42.
    Darryl Baker
    Kankakee 85k Broadside view of USS Kankakee (AO-39) off Mare Island, 23 August 1942.
    US National Archives photo # 19-N-33809 a US Navy Bureau of Ships photo now in the collections of the US National Archives, courtesy
    Robert Hurst
    Kankakee 85k Aft port quarter view of USS Kankakee (AO-39) departing Mare Island, 23 August 1942.
    Navy Yard Mare Island photo # 5023-8-42, 8/23/42.
    Darryl Baker
    Kankakee 62k USS Kankakee (AO-39) during underway replenishment of USS Montpelier (CL-57) in the Solomon Islands, 13 January 1944. Hyperwar US Navy in WWII
    Kankakee 84k USS Kankakee (AO-39) at anchor, circa 1946, probably at San Pedro, CA. Jim Geldert
    Kankakee 147k USS Kankakee (AO-39) with the greatly reduced armament of 2-40mm twin and 4-20mm twin mounts that the ship received circa 1951.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command. Photo # None,
    Robert Hurst
    Kankakee 110k USS Kankakee (AO-39) in dry dock at East Boston, June 1962 © Richard Leonhardt
    Kankakee 92k USS Kankakee (AO-39) dry docked, at East Boston, June 1962 © Richard Leonhardt
    Kankakee 83k USS Kankakee (AO-39) underway with USS Gainard (DD-706) coming alongside to port for refueling. © Richard Leonhardt
    Kankakee 123k USS Kankakee (AO-39) and USS Gainard (DD-706) after completing an underway refueling evolution, date and location unknown. © Richard Leonhardt
    Kankakee 136k USS Kankakee (AO-39) refueling USS Wasp (CVS-18) in the North Atlantic, circa 1967-68. Ben Brooks and
    Richard Miller BMCS USNR (Ret)
    Kankakee 39k USS Kankakee (AO-39) moored pierside, date and location unknown. Richard Miller BMCS USNR (Ret)
    Kankakee 64k USS Kankakee (AO-39) at anchor, date and location unknown. Richard Miller BMCS USNR (Ret)

    USS Kankakee (AO-39)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)

    Commanding Officers
    01CAPT. Mays, William Harold4 May 1942 - 8 October 1943
    02CDR. Harvey, Andrew Milton 8 October 1943 - 10 December 1943
    03CAPT. Raines, Edwin Vernon10 December 1943 - 2 November 1944
    04LCDR. Frundt, William George2 November 1944 - 14 October 1945
    05CAPT. Wright Jr., Henry Price, USN14 October 1945 - 1 November 1945
    06CDr. Henry, Thomas Henley, USN (USNA 1935)1 November 1945 - March 1947
    07CAPT. Adamson, Frank Marshall :RADMMarch 1947 - December 1947
    08CAPT. Jones, Lafayette JacksonDecember 1948 - May 1950
    09CAPT. Wells, George Robert20 December 1956 - 4 November 1957
     Decommissioned04 November 1957 - 29 November 1961
    10CAPT. Slater, Mervon Otis, USN (USNA 1942)29 November 1961 - 27 June 1963
    11CAPT. Lang, Harold FredApril 1964 - July 1965
    12CAPT. Cooley Jr., Samuel Morton, USN (USNA 1945) :RADM 1966 - July 1967
    13CAPT. Richelieu, Charles FrancisJuly 1967 - May 1968
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

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

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    MARAD Vessel History Database
    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 23 September 2016