(AO-79: dp. 5,782; l. 520'; b. 68'; dr. 30'10"; s. 15 k.; cpl. 229; a. 1 5", 4 3"; cl. Suamico)
A river in Pennsylvania.
Cowanesque (AO-79) was launched 11 March 1943 by Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Chester, Pa., as Fort Duguesne, under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. M. Hitchner; acquired by the Navy 25 March 1943; and commissioned 1 May 1943, Commander L. S. McKenzie, USNR, in command.
From 15 June 1943 to 1 March 1944, Cowanesque carried gasoline from the Texas oil ports to east coast bases. She departed Norfolk 4 March on the first of two covoy voyage to Casablanca and Mers-el-Kebir. Sailing from Norfolk 14 July she arrived at Oran 30 July and remained at Mers-el-Kebir until 4 September fueling United States and Allied shipping. She returned to Norfolk 19 September.
Cowanesque put to sea from Norfolk 22 October 1944 and arrived at Pearl Harbor 28 November. She continued to the forward area calling at Eniwetok, Ulithi, and Hollandia, and arrived in San Pedro Bay, P.I., 1 January 1945 to fuel units of the 7th Fleet. The next day her task group underwent a severe air attack. Cowanesque fired at several planes and splashed at least two before a single-engine fighter crashed into her port side and disintegrated violently, spreading burning gasoline over the deck. Damage control parties dumped the unexploded bomb from the plane over the side, brought the fires under control and repaired the damage enabling Cowanesque to continue her mission. Her casualties were two dead, two wounded. Cowanesque fueled ships at Mindoro, Lingayen Gulf, and San Pedro Bay until 25 February when she sailed for Ulithi.
From 19 March to 4 July 1945 Cowanesque operated out of Ulithi refueling ships of the 5th Fleet at sea in support of the Iwo Jima and Okinawa operations. She reported to Okinawa 8 July for convoy duty between that island and Ulithi until the end of the war, and continued to base on Okinawa as she supported the occupation. Among her duties was refueling ships sweeping mines in the Yellow Sea. On 28 October she sailed for San Francisco, arriving 15 November. Cowanesque was placed out of commission 30 January 1946 and transferred to the Maritime Commission. Reacquired 18 January 1948, she served with the Naval Transportation Service and from 18 July 1950 with the Military Sea Transportation Service in noncommissioned status.
Cowanesque received two battle stars for World War II service.