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Kansas City (AOR-3)

1970–1997

Named for large cities in the states of Kansas and Missouri situated on opposite banks of the Missouri River at the mouth of the Kansas River.

Kansas City (CA-128) 1945

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Kansas City (CA-128), an Oregon City (CA-122)-class heavy cruiser, was laid down on 9 July 1945 at Quincy, Mass., by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Fore River yard, but further construction was cancelled a little over a month later, on 12 August 1945.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman
20 April 2020

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(AOR-3: displacement 37,360; length 659'; beam 96'; draft 35'; speed 20 knots; complement 366; armament 4 3-inch; class Wichita)

Kansas City (AOR-3) was laid down on 18 April 1968 at Quincy, Mass., by the Quincy Division of the General Dynamics Corp.; launched on 28 June 1969; sponsored by Mrs. Edith M. Darby, wife of former Senator Harry Darby (R-Kansas); and commissioned at the Boston Naval Shipyard, Charlestown, Mass., on 6 June 1970, Capt. Karl J. Christoph Jr. in command.


Kansas City slides down the ways at her christening at General Dynamics, Quincy, Mass., 28 June 1969. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph USN 1143691)
Caption: Kansas City slides down the ways at her christening at General Dynamics, Quincy, Mass., 28 June 1969. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph USN 1143691)

After her commissioning, Kansas City fitted out at the Boston Naval Shipyard. She got underway on 5 August 1970 to begin the transit to her new homeport of Long Beach, Calif. Making her first stop at Norfolk, Va., on the 8th, the replenishment oiler spent a week there for testing and then continued on to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where she conducted a one-week mini-shakedown training. Kansas City next made port visits at San Juan, Puerto Rico (26–30 August) and Willemstad, Curaçao (1–4 September). Resuming her journey to the West Coast, Kansas City transited the Panama Canal on 6 September. Following a port call at Acapulco, Mexico (10–13 September), she arrived at Long Beach on 18 September.

As they acclimated to their new homeport, Kansas City’s sailors spent the next several months in training and preparing their ship for regular operations. In October, the oiler completed ship’s qualification trials (SQTS) in port and in the southern California (SoCal) operations area and conducted sonar convergence zone testing with Fleet Training Group San Diego. The ship held shakedown training, also with Fleet Training Group San Diego, from 1 November–12 December before holding her final at-sea contract trials (13–18 December). Following her year-end holiday leave period, Kansas City held a post-shake down availability at Long Beach Naval Shipyard from 5 January–8 March 1971 to address lingering repair issues.

With the ship finally ready for regular duty, Kansas City made preparations for her first overseas deployment. From 8–12 March 1971, the ship was underway for type training. A replenishment oiler’s primary role is to deliver marine and aviation fuels as well as ammunition, missiles, and perishable and non-perishable goods to ships operating at sea. For the next two months, Kansas City practiced at-sea replenishments with ships of the fleet underway for training, held short availabilities, and conducted fuel, ammunition, and cargo loadout. Finally on 18 May, Kansas City stood out from Naval Station Long Beach and set course for the South China Sea, commencing her first deployment to the Western Pacific. On 5 June she put in to Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines, where she took on additional fuel, supplies, and ammunition. Departing on 11 June, Kansas City embarked upon her first line swing to replenish Navy combat ships off the coast of Vietnam.

Kansas City headed for southern Vietnam, entering the combat zone for the first time on 14 June 1971. She made her way up the coast as she serviced the ships of the fleet and arrived on Yankee Station, an offshore operating position east of Đồng Hới, on 21 June to replenish ships there before returning to the south. After another day of operations at Yankee Station on the 27th, the oiler headed back to Subic Bay to reload, arriving on the 29th. Typhoon Harriet interrupted the loadout period on 3 July, but on 7 July, Kansas City set off for her second line swing, sailing first for Yankee Station to service the attack aircraft carriers conducting operations in the Gulf of Tonkin as well as Seventh Fleet flagship Oklahoma City (CLG-5) and their escort ships. Heading south, the oiler began replenishing units operating in the Market Time area on 19 July before touching briefly at Vũng Tàu, about 40 miles from the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, on the 24th. She replenished several more ships before reaching Subic Bay on 27 July.

Departing on her third line swing on 4 August 1971, Kansas City delivered a fast patrol boat (PTF) to Đà Nẵng on the 6th. She then operated on Yankee Station before returning to Đà Nẵng again for a short call on the 19th. After replenishing aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65) and her escort ships, Kansas City enjoyed a week of rest and recreation at the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong (31 August–6 September). While en route to Subic Bay, the oiler replenished with her class-lead ship Wichita (AOR-1). She arrived in the Philippines on 9 September and commenced a mid-deployment availability period. Beginning her fourth line swing on 24 September, she operated in the Market Time area from the 26th–4 October and then called at Sattahip, Thailand, on 5 October for a six-day leave and recreation period. On the 11th, she set course for Subic Bay, arriving three days later.

Getting underway again for her final line swing of the deployment on 20 October 1971, Kansas City sailed for the Gulf of Tonkin, completing replenishments there and in the South China Sea through 3 November. After servicing the attack aircraft carrier Oriskany (CVA-34), the oiler returned to Subic Bay. Before setting off across the Pacific again, Kansas City visited Yokosuka, Japan (10–14 November). Arriving at Long Beach on 24 November after six months away from home, Kansas City held post-deployment leave and upkeep through the end of the year.

From 9 January 1972 through the end of February, Kansas City held a restricted availability to complete normal maintenance and upkeep and to address an issue with leaking valves in her cargo fuel tanks that caused black oil to mix with Navy Distillate fuel. Following fueling and ordnance onload, the ship commenced local operations and training in mid-March. As Kansas City conducted bumper drills on the night of 20 March, a sailor jumped overboard from his position as fantail lookout. Noting his absence from his post several minutes later, the ship immediately conducted a search and rescue, and a motor whaleboat retrieved the seaman from the water. The next day, a helicopter transported him to San Diego for further evaluation and investigation, and the oiler continued on with her training exercises. On 24 March, the oiler held a dependents’ cruise around Santa Catalina Island, “an exercise,” the ship’s historian noted, “which is much more demanding” than training. During the excursion, the crewmen’s families got to observe a small slice of life on a Navy ship, including a surface gun shoot and a man-overboard drill.

Kansas City put to sea again on 27 March 1972 for interim refresher training in the SoCal operations area off San Diego. This would be her final training opportunity before her next deployment, which was scheduled to begin at the end of April. However, on 30 March, the People’s Army of [North] Vietnam launched a massive, multi-pronged assault on South Vietnam. When the oiler returned to port on 7 April, there were several tons of supplies waiting for her on the pier. Her deployment had been moved up by two weeks, and loadout began immediately.

On 15 April 1972, Kansas City slipped her moorings and embarked upon her second deployment, reaching Subic Bay two weeks later on the 29th. At her western Pacific base of operations, the oiler loaded supplies and fleet freight, petroleum products, and ordnance and departed for the Gulf of Tonkin for the deployment’s first line swing on 4 May. Over the course of the month, the ship conducted 75 underway replenishments (unreps) and five vertical replenishments (vertreps). Her customers included attack aircraft carriers Kitty Hawk (CVA-63), Coral Sea (CVA-43), Constellation (CVA-64), Midway (CVA-41), and Hancock (CVA-19) as well as heavy cruiser Newport News (CA-148). She returned to Subic Bay on 29 May and immediately began loadout for her next line swing.

Kansas City sailed for the Gulf of Tonkin once again on 8 June 1972 and completed two underway replenishments that same day. “The crew began to sense a regular pattern: three weeks or more on the line; one week or less inport,” the ship’s historian recorded. “They could expect a carrier alongside every two or three days and an [ammunition ship consolidation] the afternoon before a night-carrier unrep.” After completing another 55 replenishments and 5 vertreps on station, the oiler returned to Subic Bay, where she encountered her first major storm of the deployment, Typhoon Ora (24–25 June). Kansas City made two more line swings to the Gulf of Tonkin over the next month and a half (2–20 July; 26 July–16 August) before pausing for a few days of leave and recreation at Hong Kong (23–29 August). On 29 August, Kansas City headed back to the Gulf of Tonkin. The ship had to steam to evade Typhoon Elsie from 1–4 September, although she still managed to complete 14 unreps in that time. Having already surpassed her total number of unreps during her previous deployment, Kansas City put in to Subic Bay on 9 September for her mid-deployment upkeep period.

Departing for the Gulf of Tonkin on 26 September 1972, Kansas City encountered yet another typhoon, Lorna, on 1–2 October. Also during this line swing, the motor of the ship’s No. 2 elevator flooded, cutting off access to three of her five ordnance magazines. As a result, she had to increase her number of consolidations with ammunition ships in order to fulfill her scheduled replenishments. The crew also unfortunately missed out on a planned port call at Sattahip, Thailand, to handle the increased workload. Then on 15 October, a malfunction with the ship’s gyro and the lack of a readily available replacement part caused Kansas City to miss a scheduled unrep for the first time. The oiler put in to Subic Bay on the 19th to repair her broken elevator.

Sailing from the Philippines on 31 October 1972, Kansas City spent most of November in the Gulf of Tonkin on her last line swing of the deployment, evading her fourth storm, Typhoon Pamela, from 6–8 November. She returned to Subic Bay on the 27th and then began her voyage home on 1 December, setting course for Yokosuka. The next day while steaming off the northern coast of the Philippine island of Luzon, the oiler encountered heavy seas and began pounding heavily. With no improvement after decreasing the ship’s speed to 10 knots, Kansas City reversed course and returned to Subic Bay, where her fuel load was adjusted to increase the ship’s stability. She stood out on the evening of the 3rd and shaped a course for the United States. During her transit home, Kansas City completed unreps with guided missile cruiser Providence (CLG-6) on 11 December and Newport News on the 12th, bringing her total number of underway replenishments for the deployment to 371. After a brief stop at Seal Beach (Calif.) to unload ammunition, Kansas City completed her eight-month deployment at Long Beach on the afternoon of 19 December. Kansas City earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation for the “high degree of professionalism, determination, and resourcefulness” demonstrated by the ship’s complement during this lengthy and hectic deployment to a combat zone.

Following the post-deployment leave and stand-down, Kansas City began the year 1973 with a change of command ceremony on 9 January, welcoming Capt. David N. Henriques as her fourth commanding officer. The ship then entered a six-week restricted availability on 20 January to complete major boiler repairs. Getting underway again on 5 March, Kansas City loaded ammunition at Seal Beach and then arrived the next morning at the San Pedro Fuel Depot to begin a cargo fuel load adjustment through 23 March, when she returned to Long Beach. The ship put to sea on 30 March to begin her week of refresher training with the Fleet Training Group San Diego in the SoCal operations area. After a weekend at home, she spent several days at sea locally conducting underway replenishment exercises with dock landing ship Fort Fisher (LSD-40), guided missile frigate Halsey (DLG-23), guided missile destroyer Lynde McCormick (DDG-8), aircraft carrier Hancock, and escort ship Stein (DE-1065). She returned to the fuel pier at San Pedro on the afternoon of 13 April, and then for the next month, Kansas City took on cargo fuel, ammunition, and stores in preparation for her next overseas deployment.

On 15 May 1973, Kansas City sailed from Long Beach, beginning her third deployment to the western Pacific. Four ships from Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 9—most likely John Paul Jones (DD-932), Edson (DD-946), Cook (DE-1083), and Francis Hammond (DE-1067)—joined her on the 24th, and the group steamed onward for Subic Bay. Reaching her destination on 31 May, the oiler commenced loadout and then set off on her first line swing on 9 June. She spent the rest of the month servicing ships in the Gulf of Tonkin area. On 22 June, Como. Frederick B. Bromley called on the oiler to present the Meritorious Unit Commendation earned during the previous deployment to Capt. Henriques. Capt. Phillip R. Craven, Kansas City’s second commanding officer, also visited the ship to mark the occasion.

Kansas City returned to Subic Bay on 1 July to replenish her supply stores. Before heading back to the line, she made a port call at Singapore (13–18 July) for a few days of recreation, followed by a trip across the equator (19 July) to cleanse the ship of her slimy pollywogs with the traditional crossing the line rituals. “When King Neptune had finished his work,” wrote the ship’s historian, “the crew was ready to go back to theirs.” Returning to the vicinity of the Gulf of Tonkin on 21 July, the oiler completed ten days of underway replenishments with the ships of the fleet and then put in to Subic Bay on 2 August to reload and complete minor repairs. Several sailors also participated in a community relations project on 12 August, painting a building at an elementary school in Olongapo City. Departing on the 15th, Kansas City conducted a practice gunnery shoot off Subic Bay before sailing for her third line swing of the deployment off the Vietnamese coast (18 August–7 September).

Steaming from the area of operations on 7 September 1973, Kansas City set course for Sasebo, Japan, for her mid-deployment maintenance and upkeep availability to complete work on her rudders, boilers, tanks, and evaporators. Pausing briefly at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, to unload ammunition on the 9th, the oiler arrived at Sasebo on 11 September and began to offload her fuel stores. On 14 September, the ship made her first trip into dry dock, where workers spent the next two weeks cleaning the hull and cargo tanks and performing maintenance on her propellers and rudders. After exiting dry dock on the 29th, Kansas City continued with her maintenance activities and began to reload. The crew also had some time to dedicate to fun activities off the ship. Matching up against local Japanese squads, Kansas City’s softball team “almost invariably lost, [but] a friendly and sincere demonstration of good sportsmanship was shared by everyone involved.” A group of crewmen also visited the Ten Shin Ryo Boys Welfare Institution for a mutually enjoyable day of intercultural interaction with the children there that included games, cake, and ice cream as well as a game of softball.

Kansas City took leave of Sasebo on 12 October 1973, steaming en route to a scheduled port call in Hong Kong. Thwarted in quick succession by typhoons Ruth and Patsy in the South China Sea, the ship did not reach port until the 18th, and her visit was limited to two days as severe weather continued to threaten the area. Departing Hong Kong on the 20th, the oiler headed for the Gulf of Tonkin and made ten unreps over three days. She put in to Subic Bay on 24 October and was making preparations to head back to the United States when Kansas City unexpectedly received orders to sail instead to the Indian Ocean. Earlier in the month, war had broken out in the Middle East between Israel and Egypt and Syria. Although the parties had already reached a cease-fire, the U.S. sent attack aircraft carrier Hancock and her escorts—most likely guided missile destroyers Lynde McCormick and Charles F. Adams (DDG-2), guided missile frigate Preble (DLG-15), and escort ships Bagley (DE-1069), Gray (DE-1054), McCandless (DE-1084), Badger (DE-1071), and Brewton (DE-1086)—to the area at the end of the month. Getting underway on 1 November, Kansas City sped towards a rendezvous with the carrier group for an urgently-needed replenishment. She reached the Indian Ocean on 6 November and continued on to the Arabian Sea, where Commanding Officer Henriques took charge of the replenishment forces in that area, including stores ship Vega (AF-59) and ammunition ship Mt. Hood (AE-29), and coordinated operations with their 4,000 mile long supply chain to ensure that the ships of the carrier group remained stocked with the fuel, supplies, and ammunition that they needed. Kansas City remained in the Arabian Sea until 20 November, and as she made her way back to Subic Bay, she consolidated her loads with incoming service ships.

On 2 December 1973, Kansas City reached Subic Bay, where a congratulatory message for her outstanding work in the Arabian Sea from Rear Adm. John D. Johnson Jr., Commander Service Group Three, awaited her. Cleared to return to the United States, the ship adjusted her loads over the next several days and then on 7 December she began her eastward transit across the Pacific. On the 12th, Kansas City fulfilled her last major task of the deployment, replenishing the west-bound Kirk (DE-1084), Schofield (DEG-3), Bronstein (DE-1037), and Lockwood (DE-1064), all “Little Beavers” of DesRon 23, which had been made famous by then-Capt. Arleigh A. Burke, future Chief of Naval Operations, during World War II. A talent show held on 15 December provided some merriment during the long transit. Kansas City returned to Long Beach on 23 December, welcomed home by Como. W. W. McKenzie, Commander Service Group One, as well as elated family and friends.

Kansas City paused her month-long post-deployment stand down to make a quick trip to Seal Beach on 14–15 January 1974 to offload retrograde ordnance. Her break officially ended on 24 January when she commenced a readiness improvement period, the beginning of which was devoted to preparations for the ship’s first Board of Inspection and Survey (InSurv) assessment (11–15 February). The inspection revealed training and maintenance deficiencies resulting from the ship’s demanding operational tempo largely driven by the conflict in Vietnam during her first three years. The readiness improvement period ended at the end of the month, and then the crew turned their attention to preparations for a change of homeport. Taking a bit of a break, on 6 March the ship held an in-port dependents’ day, allowing families to see where their crewmen work and to watch movies filmed during underway replenishments to better understand the work that they do.

With VIPs from her namesake cities Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., embarked, the replenishment oiler bid farewell to Long Beach on 21 March 1974. She paused briefly en route to the San Francisco Bay area to conduct burials at sea for two retired chief petty officers, DTC Sand and CMM Carter. On the 22nd she arrived at Naval Air Station (NAS) Alameda (Calif.), her new home port, and began a short upkeep and restricted availability that included her annual Planned Maintenance System inspection on the 27th. Kansas City moved to the AAA Machine Shop in San Francisco on 8 April and began a ten-week restricted availability to address ship repair issues and to convert her fuel system from Navy Special Fuel Oil (NSFO) to Navy Distillate.

Successful completion of her sea trials on 24 June 1974 marked the end of Kansas City’s availability, and she spent the rest of the month getting ready to commence interim refresher training by among other things reviewing assignments and essential shipboard knowledge in areas such as first aid and damage control. On the 30th, 30 naval reservists joined the ship for their annual two week active duty for training, and the next day Kansas City sailed to San Diego for refresher training. During the transit, she conducted alongside ship qualification trials with Haleakala (AE-25) on 3 and 4 July. She commenced refresher training on 8 July, conducting two weeks of local operations providing underway replenishment services for the ships of Fleet Training Group San Diego and demonstrating skill in operational fundamentals such as seamanship, navigation, and damage control. Concluding her refresher training with her final battle problem on the 25th, Kansas City then steamed for Alameda, arriving on the 27th.

Back at her homeport, Kansas City welcomed a special guest on 2 August 1974 when Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf II visited the ship. The following day, Capt. Ronald R. Hansen relieved Capt. David N. Henriques as the oiler’s commanding officer. Kansas City then busied herself with preparations for her next overseas deployment. Crew members bid goodbye to loved ones, and on 7 September, Kansas City headed for the western Pacific by way of the SoCal operations area to complete underway replenishments with Coral Sea and O’Callahan (DE-1051) on the 8th. One week later during her transit west, she also conducted unreps with McMorris (DE-1036) and USNS General H. H. Arnold (T- AGM-9) on the 15th. On 23 September, the oiler arrived at Yokosuka and began a load adjustment for operations off the coast of Japan.

On 26 September 1974, Kansas City departed to begin operations in the northern Japan operating area, heading south. Beginning on the 30th, she provided replenishment services for ships participating in the joint antisubmarine warfare exercise (ASWEX) held by the U.S. Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). A planned port call at Kagoshima on the main island’s southern tip was cancelled, and while Kansas City adjusted her load at Sasebo (4–8 October), Rear Adm. Johnson, Commander Service Group Three, once again visited the ship. Heading south on 8 October, Kansas City arrived at Subic Bay on 15 October, commencing loadout and a two-week availability period. However, Typhoon Carmen quickly disrupted operations, and then Kansas City received new tasking to head to the Indian Ocean to replace fast combat support ship Camden (AOE-2), which had suffered an engineering casualty.

Kansas City set off for Singapore en route to the Indian Ocean on 5 November 1974. However, while the oiler was in transit, Camden was able to fix her mechanical issue and Kansas City was no longer required to replace her. The oiler made a brief liberty call at Singapore (8–9 November) before heading back towards the Philippines to service ships operating in the area, including those taking part in Multiplex 2-75 from 13–15 November. During the exercise, Kansas City also got to pretend to be the carrier Midway by use of non-standard lighting and some tracks of flight deck operations, making for an interesting diversion from her regular routine.

Following the exercise, Kansas City put in to Subic Bay for a quick reload (19–23 November 1974) and then made a port call at Hong Kong (25–29 November). During the visit, the oiler held a Thanksgiving dinner for 20 underprivileged children. After reloading at Subic Bay (4–6 December), she then departed for Sasebo on 6 December, servicing ships along the way. Arriving on 22 December, Kansas City commenced her mid-deployment upkeep period while also taking time to enjoy some rest and recreation during the holiday season. The ship hosted 80 youth from the Ten Shin Ryo Boys Welfare Institution for Christmas dinner and a visit with Santa Claus, and the ship’s basketball team won a local tournament.

Getting underway again on 6 January 1975, Kansas City set course for Yokosuka. That same day, she completed underway replenishments with two ships of the Republic of Korea, Seoul (DD.92) and Ung-Go (ATD.83). Arriving at Yokosuka on the 9th, she went into dry dock that day and emerged on the 13th, when she departed for Hong Kong. The ship made numerous replenishments while en route and then put in to Hong Kong for a week-long liberty call. On 31 January, the oiler sailed for Subic Bay, where she spent several days conducting upkeep and reloading her stores (2–8 February). She operated in the Subic Bay area for the next week replenishing the fleet, including during ReadEx 1-75, which simulated a general war in the Pacific Theater (11–14 February). She touched at Subic Bay to refuel on the 16th, and after a few more days at sea servicing the fleet, she arrived at Subic Bay once again on 20 February for another round of upkeep. During the availability on 24 February, Henry B. Wilson (DDG-7) collided with Kansas City as the guided missile destroyer approached the wharf, causing minor damage to both ships.

After adjusting her loads, Kansas City commenced her trip back to the United States on 7 March 1975. The ship made her first visit to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the return transit, pausing there for just one day on 21 March. Rear Adm. John M. Barrett, Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet (ServPac), took the opportunity to visit the ship, deeming the oiler one of the “Five Best” ships in ServPac. The next day the oiler departed on the final leg of her journey, arriving at NAS Alameda on 28 March.


Guided missile frigate Reeves (DLG-24) steams alongside Kansas City during underway replenishment operations, 1975. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-SN-93-01364, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Guided missile frigate Reeves (DLG-24) steams alongside Kansas City during underway replenishment operations, 1975. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-SN-93-01364, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

After a month-long post-deployment stand down, Kansas City got underway on 29 April 1975 for several days of operations off the northern California coast with the carrier Oriskany. She returned to port on 2 May and headed out again on the 13th to rendezvous with Enterprise to offload her ammunition as she returned from her western Pacific deployment. On 5 June, the oiler departed for San Diego, arriving at NAS North Island the next day. After a day underway on the 10th, Kansas City tied up at the U.S. Naval Fuel Depot in San Pedro to offload fuel and clean her fuel tanks (11–25 June) to prepare the ship for her upcoming first major overhaul. The oiler arrived at Naval Supply Center (NSC) Oakland (Calif.) on 26 June and moved to Alameda on 3 July. Kansas City entered dry dock MRV-1 at Todd Shipyard in Oakland on 14 July and exited on 1 August. She remained at Todd Shipyard until 22 August, when she moved to the AAA Shipyard in San Francisco for several more months of topside work.

While the oiler was tied up at the AAA Machine Shop at Pier 64 at midday on 27 February 1976, a commercial tug boat Sea Robin accidentally struck Kansas City. The tug boat was assisting another vessel nearby when she lost power and smashed into Kansas City’s starboard quarter at frames 35 and 36. The impact indented the oiler’s shell plating three inches deep for a length of ten feet and a width of nearly three feet and also damaged one of the ship’s JP-5 jet fuel cargo tanks. Although not critically damaged, the ship would need to return to dry dock to complete these repairs. Ultimately after a dispute over the repair cost estimate, the tug boat’s owners settled with the Navy for $13,500 in damages and the repair work was deferred until her next regular dry docking.

Kansas City’s many overhaul projects changed the appearance of the ship and reconfigured many of her interior spaces. Work completed included the installation of the NATO Sea Sparrow missile system and a new self-contained sewage treatment plant. Major alterations to the ship’s fantail area removed two gun mounts to make way for a new deck, hangars, and other facilities to house an embarked vertrep detachment of two Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, their aircrews, and associated supplies and equipment. Upgraded communications systems incorporated satellite broadcast and computer facilities and allowed for the reorganization of radio central. In addition, crew habitability refinements included updates to berthing spaces and heads, a new closed circuit television system, and renovated mess decks and crew lounge areas. Kansas City completed sea trials on 22–23 April 1976 and concluded her overhaul on 31 May.

Prior to Kansas City’s first post-overhaul underway period, the oiler embarked 15 guests representing the cities of Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., on 20 June 1976. The following day, the ship put to sea for her Alongside Systems Qualifications Tests (ASQT), which she conducted with combat stores ship Niagara Falls (AFS-3). Over the next two days, she also completed unreps with ammunition ship Mauna Kea (AE-22) and Niagara Falls before docking at NAS Alameda on the 24th. Departing for SoCal on 19 July, Kansas City arrived at Long Beach on the 23rd and spent several days completing her NATO Sea Sparrow Systems Qualification Test (27–30 July) on the Pacific Missile Range. She then held unreps with three ships, including Coral Sea, conducting their refresher training with Fleet Training Group San Diego. The oiler docked at Broadway Pier in San Diego on 6 August and served as visit ship over the weekend, providing ship’s tours to more than 3,000 members of the public.

Moving to NAS North Island on 9 August 1976, Kansas City commenced her own refresher training with a week of in-port exercises. From 16–26 August, she completed the underway portion of the exercise, replenishing several ships during the course of her training. She then headed back to the Bay Area, arriving at Alameda on 30 August, and began final preparations for her next deployment. On 4 September, Vice Adm. William R. St. George, Commander Naval Surface Forces U.S. Pacific Fleet, along with Capt. Charles S. Christensen Jr., Commander Service Group One, called on the ship.

With her loadout complete, Kansas City sailed for the western Pacific on 25 September 1976. Two days later, the oiler rendezvoused with vessels from Amphibious Squadron (PhibRon) 1 and DesRon 7 and provided replenishment services over the next several days as she made her way to Hawaii. After calling at Pearl Harbor (1–4 October), the ship then continued onward for Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, with Kansas City continuing to provide underway replenishments along the way. On 13 October, the oiler crossed the equator, and the ship held a crossing the line ceremony to cleanse her ranks of more than 300 slimy pollywogs.

During the first phase of the deployment, Kansas City took part in the joint amphibious exercise Kangaroo II at Shoalwater Bay, Australia, conducted jointly with the Australian and New Zealand navies. Kansas City provided numerous unreps during the exercise. On 19 October 1976, with Hoel (DDG-13) alongside the oiler to port, the guided missile cruiser experienced an engineering casualty, causing the two ships to collide. Kansas City’s historian described the incident as “minor” with little damage to both ships and no injuries. Upon completion of the exercise on 25 October, Kansas City sailed for Sydney, Australia, where the crew enjoyed a nine-day port visit (28 October–6 November).

Steaming in company with Long Beach (CGN-9) and Barbey (FF-1088), Kansas City next headed for Subic Bay. For the rest of November, the oiler operated in the vicinity of Subic Bay servicing the Enterprise and Midway carrier groups and other ships of the fleet, making occasional overnight trips into port to replenish her fuel and supplies. During this stretch, Vice Adm. Robert B. Baldwin, Commander Seventh Fleet, paid a visit to Kansas City via helicopter as the ship was engaged in an unrep. Finally on 4 December 1976, the oiler put in to Subic Bay for ten days to adjust her loads. Getting underway on 15 December, the ship maintained a busy schedule of underway replenishments during Multiplex 1-77. At the end of the exercise on the 22nd, Kansas City fired a Sea Sparrow missile, achieving “a striking success, a ‘grand slam’ on the only target to pass within firing range.” Returning to Subic Bay for a load adjustment on 23 December, the oiler put to sea again on Christmas Eve to service Hull (DD-945), Waddell (DDG-24), and Decatur (DDG-31), piping music suitable to the occasion over the general announcing system. That evening, Kansas City put in to the Naval Ship Repair Facility at Subic Bay and commenced a maintenance and repair upkeep period.

Following her availability and loadout, Kansas City got underway again on 20 January 1977, completing several replenishments in the local area before heading for the vicinity of Singapore on the 24th in company with Enterprise. The oiler completed an unrep and a vertrep with the carrier on the 25th and then turned north, steaming independently for Sasebo. She arrived at the Japanese port on 3 February and commenced another upkeep period. Departing en route to Subic Bay on 20 February, Kansas City spent one night there (24 February) before sailing once again for the Singapore operations area on the 25th. Kansas City arrived at Singapore on 2 March for a week of rest and recreation. She then headed back to Subic Bay, adjusted her loads there (13–15 March), and continued on for Yokosuka, arriving on the 19th. From 22 March into early April, Kansas City operated out of Yokosuka, servicing both American and Japanese naval vessels.

On 4 April 1977, the oiler sailed for South Korea in company with an amphibious task force led by amphibious assault ship Okinawa (LPH-3). After spending three nights at Pusan (8–11 April), Kansas City made the return trip to Sasebo, anchoring there briefly on the 12th and then continuing on for Subic Bay later that day. Arriving on the 15th, she spent nearly two weeks making preparations to head back to the West Coast. She sailed for Pearl Harbor on 27 April, joined the next day by Hoel and Waddell and then by other ships from DesRon 7 during the voyage. On 5 May, the oiler detached from DesRon 7 to rendezvous with rescue and salvage ship Deliver (ARS-23) to pick up a MedEvac patient. Continuing on towards Hawaii, Kansas City conducted stern refueling exercises with Deliver (6 May) and fleet ocean tug Chowanoc (ATF-100) (9 May). Stopping at Pearl on the 11th only long enough to embark a group of “Tigers”—male relatives of the crew—for the final leg of the voyage east, Kansas City continued on her way home. She arrived at NAS Alameda on 17 May 1977, having completed 198 unreps on this deployment, a total believed to be the most underway replenishments completed by a single ship in peacetime operations to that date. The oiler’s hard work over the previous two years was later recognized with the Battle “E” award.

Following the deployment, Kansas City’s crew enjoyed a month-long leave and upkeep period, and the ship remained in port for maintenance and training until 11 July 1977. On that date she put to sea for local operations and an unrep with Niagara Falls. She got underway again on 25 July, steaming for SoCal to conduct missile exercises as part of Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Project 112. Returning to Alameda on the 28th, the oiler spent a long weekend in port and then resumed her underway missile operations from 1–4 August. Kansas City remained in port for the rest of the month conducting upkeep and training, and in September the ship’s focus turned to her upcoming Operational Propulsion Plant Examination (OPPE), with training largely geared towards engineering topics. She was underway from 6–10 October to conduct an operational shakedown, during which she refueled Pyro (AE-24) on the 7th. She continued to operate locally in early November, conducting underway engineering drills, and then on 30 November, Kansas City departed for SoCal, once again participating in missile operations for CNO Project 112. Arriving at NSC Oakland on 14 December, the ship then entered the year-end holiday leave and upkeep period.

Kansas City began the year 1978 with underway training from 4–6 January. Moving from NSC Oakland to NAS Alameda on the 8th, the ship began a two-month pierside restricted maintenance availability. She got underway again from 15–18 March for a shakedown and boiler flex tests, and then on 20 March, Kansas City entered dry dock at Bethlehem Steel Shipyard to complete repairs to her rudder. Exiting dry dock on 6 April, the ship moved to NAS Alameda and then put to sea from 10–14 April for another shakedown cruise, bringing her repair period to a close.

Departing for San Diego on 24 April 1978, the oiler began workups in earnest for her next deployment, conducting alongside qualification trials with ammunition ship Kiska (AE-35) along the way. Docking at NAS North Island on the 28th, Kansas City completed trainings and inspections all in preparation to commence her refresher training, which she began after completing underway engineering trials from 9–13 May. After about two weeks of exercises covering engineering, seamanship, navigation, and underway replenishment, she completed her refresher training on 26 May and then headed back to Alameda, arriving the following day.

On 29 May 1978, a group of first- and third-class Naval Academy and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) midshipmen boarded the oiler for their summer training. Three days later, Kansas City departed for SoCal to participate in ReadiEx 3-78. During the exercise, the oiler completed nine unreps before detaching on 4 June to head back to northern California for an individual steaming exercise and training. Returning to Alameda on 9 June, the ship spent the rest of the month conducting at-sea shakedown, in-port shakedown, and pre-OPPE shakedown. She spent 30 June–5 July in port to effect repairs prior to her OPPE exam (5–7 July). After another round of sea trials on 11 July, Kansas City completed her second InSurv inspection (17–21 July). From 28 July–7 August, the ship remained at Alameda to conduct pre-missile system qualification tests in preparation for the underway tests in the southern California operating area from 7–10 August. Docking at Long Beach on the 10th, Kansas City served as visit ship through the 14th, opening her decks to the public.

After pausing at Seal Beach to load ammunition on 14 August 1978, Kansas City put in to San Diego for some additional training. Departing on 17 August, Kansas City took part in the ten-day FleetEx 2-78, completing 23 unreps and a vertrep. Returning to Alameda on 28 August, the ship entered the pre-overseas movement period, making her final preparations for deployment. On 26 September, Kansas City departed with Task Unit (TU) 37.9.4, headed once again for the western Pacific. On the 29th, the oiler rendezvoused with the larger task group and began conducting underway replenishments. From 2–6 October, the ship took part in CompTuEx 1-79 off Hawaii and then entered Pearl Harbor for a four-night stay on the 10th. Continuing westward, Kansas City arrived at Subic Bay on 25 October to refuel. The next day she was underway again to evade Typhoon Rita and to service the ships of TG 77.7.

On 29 October 1978, Kansas City’s embarked helicopters rescued 40 crewmen from the tanker Toubkal in the South China Sea. The Moroccan ship ran aground and split in half on Scarborough Shoal 145 miles west of Subic Bay earlier in the day due to Typhoon Rita. That evening, Kansas City anchored at Subic Bay, and she began upkeep the next day. Departing on the 11th, the replenishment oiler continued to service TG 77.7 ships operating in the South China Sea. She paused at Sasebo on 24 November for a quick refueling and loadout, putting to sea again the next day to continue to service the fleet. She returned to Sasebo (30 November–4 December) and then got underway on 5 December to rejoin TG 77.7 in the Philippine Sea. She reloaded and refueled at Yokosuka from 13–17 December and once again returned to the task group. On 21 December, Kansas City parted company with the task group and docked at Keelung, Taiwan, for the Christmas holiday (22–26 December). She then steamed to Subic Bay, arriving on the 29th, for outload.

Kansas City departed on New Year’s Day 1979 to rendezvous with TG 77.7 in the South China Sea. Catching up to the task group on 5 January, she completed five vertreps and four unreps with the group before detaching on the 7th to rendezvous with TG 73.5. She remained with the new task group only long enough to transit the Strait of Malacca (8 January) and operate briefly in the Indian Ocean before detaching on the 10th to return to the South China Sea. During the return transit through the Strait of Malacca on 13 January, the ship held a change of command ceremony, with Capt. Dennis M. Brooks assuming the role of Kansas City’s commanding officer. After a logistics stop at Singapore (15–18 January), Kansas City rejoined TG 77.7 on 19 January and resumed a busy schedule of underway replenishments.

Steaming with destroyer Morton (DD-948) on 27 January 1979, Kansas City crossed the equator and initiated a new crop of trusty shellbacks into the mysteries of the Realm of King Neptune. Touching briefly at Subic Bay to refuel on 2 February, she next sailed to Hong Kong for a port visit (5–8 February). Returning to Subic Bay on the 11th, the ship completed maintenance and upkeep for the rest of the month. During her time in port, Rear Adm. Robert B. McClinton, Commander Naval Surface Group Western Pacific, visited Kansas City on 22 February. The oiler got underway again on 2 March and completed two unreps that day but returned to Subic Bay on the 3rd to begin adjusting her loads for the trip home. However on 6 March, Kansas City received word that her deployment would be extended as her services were urgently needed for operations in the Indian Ocean given renewed fighting in the Middle East between North Yemen and South Yemen, which was thought to be receiving arms from the Soviet Union. As the crew reloaded for Kansas City’s new assignment, Vice Adm. Sylvester R. Foley Jr., Commander Seventh Fleet, visited the ship on the 7th, and Rear Adm. McClinton called again on the 8th.

Kansas City departed Subic Bay for contingency operations on 8 March 1979 in company with Constellation, guided missile cruiser Sterett (CG-31), and Waddell. The group transited the Strait of Malacca and then entered the Indian Ocean on the 14th. Following a brief pause at Diego Garcia, B.I.O.T., on 16 March, Kansas City headed towards the Middle East and on 21 March rendezvoused with TG 77.7, which included the oiler’s transit-mates as well as Davis (DD-937), Richard L. Page (FFG-5), and Donald B. Beary (FF-1085). After replenishing the ships of the task group, Kansas City returned to Diego Garcia (28–29 March) to adjust loads. She then repeated the cycle, joining with the task group again on 4 April to provide replenishment services and then putting in to Diego Garcia again on the 11th. Departing the remote Indian Ocean outpost on the 13th, Kansas City began the trip back to Subic Bay. First, though, she made her last rendezvous with the task group on 16 April. The following day she completed a vertrep with Midway, which relieved Constellation as the carrier on station. While transiting the Strait of Malacca on 19 April, Rear Adm. Ernest E. Tissot Jr., Commander Carrier Strike Force Seventh Fleet, visited the ship. Kansas City arrived at Subic Bay on 23 April and welcomed both Rear Adm. McClinton and Vice Adm. Foley back to the ship the same day. The replenishment oiler earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation for these contingency operations.

On 27 April 1979, Kansas City finally turned for home. The ship stopped at Pearl Harbor (9–10 May), where she received a visit from Adm. Donald C. Davis, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. With 25 Tigers embarked, the oiler then made her way home to Alameda, concluding her eight-month deployment on 17 May. During the ship’s month-long post-deployment stand down, Kansas City became the flagship of Capt. Edward J. Messere, Commander Service Group One, on 29 May. The oiler hosted a change of command ceremony on 20 June as Capt. Charles W. O’Reilly assumed command of Service Group One. The following day, Vice Adm. Lee Baggett Jr., Commander Naval Surface Force Pacific, paid a visit to the ship.

Kansas City got underway again on 27 June 1979 for two days of local operations but otherwise remained in port until 6 August. She was underway off northern California for four days, completing four unreps on 9 August. She completed ASQT with Flint (AE-32) from 20–24 August. The oiler departed Alameda on 14 September and conducted unrep and vertrep operations with Ranger (CVA-61) before anchoring at Seal Beach to adjust her ammunition load. She steamed south on the 28th, servicing both Coral Sea and Constellation two days later while en route to Mazatlan, Mexico, where the crew enjoyed a five-day port visit (5–9 October). Spending most of the rest of October in San Diego, Kansas City was underway from 15–19 October to complete ASQT with Wichita and then spent 22–23 October in port at Long Beach to offload fuel and ammunition before returning home on the 25th.

Beginning her second major overhaul on 3 December 1979, Kansas City moved to the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in San Francisco on 17 December to carry out the majority of the work. Renovations completed during her nine-month repair period included refurbishment of most of her engineering equipment as well as maintenance to the communications gear, underway replenishment winches, and the ship’s boats. The oiler also spent three months in dry dock (14 January–15 April 1980) for hull work, including repair of the damage from the tug boat collision during her first overhaul. On 28 March, Kansas City became the subject of a bomb threat made by a shipyard worker, but the warning proved false and work resumed. In a more uplifting onboard event, the oiler held a change of command ceremony on 14 June, with Capt. Gary A. Scoffield assuming the role of Kansas City’s commanding officer. The oiler successfully completed sea trials on 13–15 August and returned to NAS Alameda.

With the overhaul completed one month ahead of schedule, Kansas City and her crew began training workups to return to full operational readiness. After a second set of sea trials on 16–18 September 1980, the ship completed in-port unrep systems qualifications tests in late September and early October, followed by underway SQTs with Mauna Kea (6–10 October) and an unrep and emergency breakaway with Coral Sea (16 October). On 28 October, the oiler got underway for the southern California operations area. During the transit, she completed underway replenishment with the pre-commissioning unit George Philip (future FFG-12) and conducted training for her upcoming missile systems qualifications tests. She spent three days at Long Beach (31 October–2 November) and then put to sea for additional missile SQTs. Kansas City put in to San Diego on 7 November for a two-week stay and then returned to Alameda. For the rest of the year, the ship operated locally as she prepared to begin refresher training in January.

Kansas City set course for San Diego on 5 January 1981 and spent most of the rest of the month completing her essential skills refresher training in the southern California operating area, returning to Alameda on the 24th. Heading south again on 8 February, the oiler stopped at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach to load ammunition and then spent a few days at sea conducting replenishment exercises with several ships operating off San Diego. After returning to the Bay Area on 19 February, Kansas City made two more SoCal trips in the spring to replenish ships of the fleet, from 10–18 March and 13–25 April.

On 5 May 1981, Kansas City headed to San Diego yet again. From there, she joined with a group of ships headed to Hawaii for MidPac, providing unreps during the transit. Taking a brief break at Naval Station Pearl Harbor from 18–20 May, the oiler put to sea again for a few more days of replenishments and then her tour of the Pacific brought her back to Pearl Harbor (22–26 May), San Diego (2–4 June), and finally Alameda (6–8 June). After only two days at home, Kansas City was underway again headed north this time. On 10 June the ship transited the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and arrived at Portland, Ore., to attend the city’s Rose Festival (10–15 June), returning to Alameda on 17 June.

In preparation for her upcoming overseas deployment, Kansas City sailed for San Diego on 6 July 1981 to participate in a major FleetEx. However, steering engine problems forced the oiler to miss the exercise and instead return to Alameda for repairs. She got underway again on 11–12 August, but while at anchor in San Francisco Bay the 14th, an explosion occurred in the ship’s No. 1 boiler. As a result of the engineering casualty, Kansas City could not deploy on schedule. Instead she sailed to SoCal on the 18th and held an unrep with her sister ship Wichita on the 20th. She returned to San Francisco, effected repairs, and continued to load the ship. Finally on 26 September, Kansas City departed for her western Pacific deployment one month late.

After stopping briefly at Pearl Harbor on 1 October 1981, Kansas City continued westward en route to Subic Bay. On 4 October she rendezvoused with Task Unit (TU) 33.9.7 and commenced replenishments with the ships of the unit. She arrived at Subic Bay on 16 October and completed a ten-day loadout. Departing on the 26th, she headed next for the Indian Ocean. That night, she completed a vertrep with guided missile cruiser California (CGN-36), which was then in the middle of a circumnavigation of the globe. Three days later on 29 October while in the South China Sea headed for the Singapore Strait, Kansas City encountered a boat loaded with 43 Vietnamese refugees. “The highlight of Westpac had to be the look of joy and relief on the faces of the children when we rescued the Vietnamese boat people,” wrote one Kansas City sailor in the ship’s cruise book. After everyone had been removed from the craft, Kansas City scuttled the leaky vessel by dropping her anchor through it. The next day during replenishment operations, the oiler transferred the refugees to destroyer David R. Ray (DD-971) for transportation to Subic Bay. Kansas City would later receive the Humanitarian Service Medal for this rescue.

Continuing on her journey into the Indian Ocean, Kansas City held a crossing the line ceremony on 3 November 1981 to initiate another batch of slimy pollywogs into the ranks of King Neptune’s trusty shellbacks, educated in the mysteries of the deep. A wog-free Kansas City put in to Diego Garcia on 5 November to complete logistics and then on the 9th headed out for “Gonzo Station” in the Gulf of Oman to rendezvous with TG 70.3, led by the carrier Coral Sea. She arrived on station on 12 November and commenced replenishment operations. To resupply her stock in the area of operations, the oiler anchored off Masirah, Oman, on 14 November and flew in provisions and materials from the airhead with her embarked helos.

After the fifth and final airhead operation on 2 December 1981, Kansas City sailed for Diego Garcia. She stood out on the 11th to return to the task group. Catching up with the group on 13 December, she began her underway replenishments as the ships headed back towards the Pacific. Meanwhile, a large military mobilization in North Korea led to another alteration in Kansas City’s orders, and she steamed to Singapore to reload for contingency operations off Vietnam. However, the activity in the Korean peninsula proved to be an exercise rather than an actual mobilization, and as such, the oiler instead arrived at Singapore to enjoy a relaxing five-day port visit over the New Year’s holiday.

Departing Singapore on 2 January 1982, Kansas City sailed to Subic Bay. Arriving on the 7th, she began a repair and upkeep period and held a change of command ceremony the next day. Completing her upkeep period on 25 January, she steamed to Hong Kong for a port visit (29 January–2 February) and then to Sasebo for a fuel loadout (7–8 February). She then operated with the Coral Sea Battle Group in the Sea of Japan for several days before stopping at Pusan, Korea. During this port call (12–16 February), several Kansas City sailors visited local orphanages to distribute goods from Project Handclasp. “Few who participated,” the ship’s historian wrote of the experience, “will ever forget the look on the children’s faces or the graciousness of the Korean people.”

For the remainder of February 1982, Kansas City operated with the battle group, with stops at Sasebo (16–17 February) and Buckner Bay, Okinawa (23–24 February) for fuel. On the last day of the month, she put in to Subic Bay to adjust her loads to begin the trip back to the United States. Departing on 4 March, Kansas City set course for Pearl Harbor, still traveling with the Coral Sea Battle Group. After a two-week transit, the oiler reached Hawaii on the 16th, stopping overnight to embark her guests for the Tiger Cruise back to the West Coast. Parting company with Coral Sea, Kansas City sailed with the smaller ships of the battle group towards San Diego. The oiler turned north when the other ships were close enough to port to no longer require her services. She offloaded her ammunition to replenishment ammunition ship Shasta (AE-33) on her transit north (19–20 March) and rejoined Coral Sea off San Francisco on 22 March to complete her last underway replenishment of the deployment before making her return to NAS Alameda the next day.


Crewmen line the rails of Kansas City as the San Francisco area Navy band plays for them to celebrate their deployment homecoming, 23 May 1982. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-82-05161, George Champagne, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Crewmen line the rails of Kansas City as the San Francisco area Navy band plays for them to celebrate their deployment homecoming, 23 May 1982. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-82-05161, George Champagne, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Following her post-deployment leave and upkeep period, Kansas City began anew the cycle of preparation for her next deployment, beginning with a trip to SoCal from 22–29 April 1982 to provide underway replenishments for ships working with the Field Training Group. She returned to the San Diego area at the end of May to once again provide training services (24–28 May) and then headed to Mazatlan for a recreational visit (30 May–2 June). Upon her return to Alameda on 6 June, the oiler began a two month repair availability. Beginning in mid-August, the ship’s training ramped up, focusing on engineering and underway replenishment. Sailing on 18 August, the oiler conducted replenishment systems qualifications tests with ammunition ship USNS Kilauea (T-AE-26) as well as engineering casualty control drills before joining with Constellation and Waddell for exercise Kernel Egress 2-82 (23–27 August). She then steamed back to San Diego to conduct her training readiness evaluation before returning to Alameda.

As summer turned to fall, Kansas City continued her pre-deployment training and preparations. On 16 October 1982, the ship completed underway replenishments with England (CG-22), Fox (CG-33), Paul F. Foster (DD-964), and Mount Hood, all from the Ranger Battle Group returning home from their deployment. She began her Operational Propulsion Plant Re-Examination (OPPRE) on 27 October and then on the 30th sailed for San Diego to conduct her two-week refresher training. The ship performed so well during her refresher training that the Fleet Training Group named her a ship for others to emulate. The completion of OPPRE immediately followed refresher training (15–17 November), and then Kansas City joined with an amphibious task force to head north for exercise Kernel Potlach 1-83. The oiler serviced both American and Canadian ships as the group conducted an amphibious landing in the far-off Aleutian Islands of Alaska. At the conclusion of the landing exercise, the task force headed for the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Kansas City then enjoyed a week-long port visit at Victoria, B.C., Canada (7–12 December).

During the transit back to California, the task force encountered “perhaps the heaviest storm [Kansas City] had seen in years.” High winds and waves battered the ship, which “sustained damage that impressed upon all the relentless force of the sea.” Speaking of the storm-weary crew, the ship’s historian noted, “The Golden Gate was indeed a welcome sight.” After the intensity of the recent weather as well as the previous several weeks of demanding operations away from home, Kansas City returned to Alameda on 15 December 1982 grateful to begin the year-end holiday leave and upkeep period.

Kansas City commenced her busy 1983 agenda on 17 January when she put to sea and sailed for the southern California operating area to take part in ReadiEx 83-2 with the Coral Sea Battle Group. In addition to an active schedule of replenishments during the exercise, on 19 January she successfully launched a Sea Sparrow missile and on the 24th she participated in a towing exercise with Mount Hood. After returning to Alameda on the 31st, the oiler kept busy through February and early March with inspections and loadout for deployment. On 17–18 March, the ship took on ammunition at the San Francisco Bay ammunition anchorage and returned to Alameda to make final preparations to head overseas.

On 21 March 1983, Kansas City and her embarked helo squadron stood out from Alameda to commence her WestPac deployment. She joined Coral Sea, which was leaving the Bay Area for the last time as she had been reassigned to Norfolk, switching homeports with Carl Vinson. The ships first headed south to join the rest of the task force, which included four Canadian destroyers as well as U.S. Coast Guard units, off San Diego before steaming southwest for Hawaii. The group reached Pearl Harbor on 31 March, and following a couple days in port to resupply, the ships departed on 2 April and headed north for Alaska to take part in FleetEx 1983 with the Enterprise and Midway task forces. During the exercise, Kansas City followed a course along the Aleutian Islands and completed more than 50 unreps in slightly more than three weeks. She finally reached Pusan, Korea, for a port visit on 25 April. During this port stop, members of the ship’s crew took time out to visit three orphanages and a hospital to deliver over $13,000 worth of goods on behalf of Project Handclasp. In addition, Kansas City invited 15 handicapped orphans to visit the ship for lunch and a tour.

Sailing from Pusan on 30 April 1983, Kansas City continued with her schedule of underway replenishments as the task force headed for the Philippines to support landing exercises. Reaching Subic Bay on 9 May, the ship began a ten-day upkeep period. With her loads of fuel, ammunition, and stores adjusted to begin the next phase of the deployment, the oiler got underway again on the 19th and set course for Singapore. Kansas City held a crossing the line ceremony on 22 May, and the task force conducted air defense exercises with units from the Republic of Singapore Navy prior to arrival on 26 May.

Leaving the excitement of Singapore behind on 1 June 1983, Kansas City transited the Strait of Malacca with the battle group and entered the Indian Ocean. On 7–8 June, Coral Sea Battle Group conducted a war-at-sea, long-range strike/air defense exercise with the Carl Vinson Battle Group from approximately 1,000 nautical miles distance. The carriers rendezvoused on 9 June to conduct turnover, with Rear Adm. Kendall E. Moranville, Commander Carrier Group (CarGru) Four, cross-decking to Coral Sea while Rear Adm. Paul F. McCarthy, ComCarGru One, shifted his flag to Carl Vinson. Coral Sea then steamed on towards the Middle East and ultimately her new home in Norfolk. Kansas City joined the Carl Vinson Battle Group for Multiplex 83-3 (12–14 June) and then stopped briefly at Diego Garcia (18–19 June).

Rejoining the Carl Vinson Battle Group, Kansas City steamed for Australia and enjoyed a week-long stay at Fremantle (Perth), Western Australia (1–7 July 1983) before heading back to Diego Garcia (16–17 July). Her next anticipated stop with the Carl Vinson Battle Group was to be Phuket, Thailand, but as tensions built up in Central America, Kansas City received alternate tasking that forced the cancellation of the port visit. Instead, the oiler in company with destroyer Ingersoll (DD-990) and frigate Roark (FF-1053) steamed to Subic Bay to join the newly-recommissioned battleship New Jersey (BB-62) and her battle group.

Arriving in the Philippines on 29 July 1983, Kansas City spent the next several days reloading her fuel, ammunition, and cargo to take the battle group across the Pacific. The group departed Subic Bay on 1 August en route to Guam for a three-week availability period, but that stop too was cancelled and the battle group instead set course for Hawaii. Replenishing for several days (12–15 August) at Pearl Harbor, where the ship also embarked three First Class NROTC midshipmen, Kansas City then continued on with the New Jersey Battle Group towards Central America. After arriving on station, the battle group patrolled off the coast of Nicaragua and Honduras as a show of force to deter insurgent groups, particularly in El Salvador which was embroiled in a civil war. Kansas City detached to refuel at Rodman, Panama, on 28–29 August and then rejoined the battle group for another week of operations before turning for home on 7 September. The oiler offloaded her ammunition to Flint on 13–14 September, the helo detachment flew off the ship near San Diego on the 16th, and Kansas City concluded her six month deployment with her arrival at Alameda on 17 September.


Kansas City, center, provides underway replenishment to battleship New Jersey (BB-62), top, and guided missile destroyer Buchanan (DDG-14), 12 August 1983. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-83-10377, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Kansas City, center, provides underway replenishment to battleship New Jersey (BB-62), top, and guided missile destroyer Buchanan (DDG-14), 12 August 1983. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-83-10377, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

The need to begin preparations for the oiler’s upcoming phased maintenance availability (PMA) scheduled to commence in January foreshortened Kansas City’s post-deployment leave period however. During the month of October 1983, the ship focused on engineering issues, culminating with a major ship’s inspection from 29 October–13 November. She was underway from 14–17 November, completing unreps with Brooke (FFG-1) and Elliot (DD-967) on the 16th. After loading ammunition at the San Francisco Bay Explosive Anchorage on 5 December, the oiler departed for San Diego. Stopping briefly at NAS North Island to load provisions on the 7th, she then took part in Kernel Usher 84-1 (8–12 December). Following the exercise, the oiler put in to Long Beach (13–15 December) to have her underway replenishment winches removed for overhaul. Upon her arrival at NSC Oakland on 17 December, Kansas City entered her year-end leave and upkeep period.

On 16 January 1984, Kansas City transferred to the Southwest Marine Ship Repair Facility, San Francisco, to begin her availability. During the PMA, which also included three weeks in dry dock at San Francisco’s Todd Shipyard from 6–26 February, work completed included upgrades to the engineering plant, refurbishing the underway replenishment deck winches and the operations department electronic equipment, and beginning the installation of the new Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS). The ship completed the availability on 7 May, and the next day she loaded ammunition and fuel to resume operations, although on 9 May she remained at anchor to complete repairs on her shaft. After conducting sea trials and a boiler flexibility test on 10–11 May, Kansas City returned to NSC Oakland for a week of upkeep.

Commencing several months of trainings, inspections, and eastern Pacific operations, Kansas City successfully completed her aviation readiness evaluation and aviation facility certification on 18 May 1984 and then got underway on the 21st for SoCal, completing her first three unreps of the year before returning to port. She made another trip to SoCal at the end of the month for operations with her sister ship Roanoke (AOR-7) (31 May–3 June) and then headed north on 5 June to participate once again in the Portland Rose Festival (7–10 June), where she hosted the Admiral’s Reception for festival VIPs on the 10th. From Portland, the oiler departed on 11 June for southern California operations. After completing seven underway replenishments over several days as well as a consolidation with USNS Kawishiwi (T-AO-146), Kansas City docked at NAS North Island on the 16th for a two-week training availability. During the transit back to Alameda, the ship served as Senior Officer Ship Maintenance and Repair Course (SOSMRC) school ship. The oiler spent the Fourth of July holiday at Alameda and then got underway on the 9th for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to conduct SQT in-port at Bremerton, Wash. (13–20 July) and underway with Camden (21–25 July).

Following a two-week upkeep period, in August Kansas City turned her attention to engineering readiness, with numerous in-port and underway periods into early October dedicated to preparing for her Engineering Casualty Control (ECC) exam and OPPRE. Originally scheduled for 23 August 1984, the ship’s OPPRE was pushed back three times and did not take place until January. The oiler did however hold a dependents’ cruise on 24 August and completed her training readiness evaluation on 8 September. After a two-day underway period to refuel Battle Group Delta, during which Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 11 Detachment (Det) 2 crossdecked from Camden (11–12 October), Kansas City spent the next three days at NSC Oakland for San Francisco Fleet Week (13–16 October).


Kansas City underway in San Francisco Bay with the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in the background, August 1984. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-SN-84-10221, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Kansas City underway in San Francisco Bay with the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in the background, August 1984. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-SN-84-10221, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

On 17 October 1984, Kansas City put to sea in company with Battle Group Delta, led by the carrier Constellation. For most of the rest of the month, the replenishment oiler supported the battle group as it took part in the first phase of FleetEx 85 in the Hawaii operations area. She put in to Pearl Harbor on 30 October to refuel and reload her stores and received the news that her trip would be extended into an unexpected western Pacific mini-deployment. The previous day, replenishment oiler Roanoke experienced a steering casualty and ran aground while departing Pearl Harbor after a reload, spilling nearly 100,000 gallons of jet fuel into the ocean. Roanoke was eventually freed from the reef and towed back to port for a damage assessment, and Kansas City would need to fill in for her sister ship while she was laid up for repairs. Kansas City got underway again on the 31st to provide replenishments for Carl Vinson and Battle Group Charlie, and her embarked helo detachment, HC-11 Det 2, crossdecked to Constellation.

Kansas City returned to Pearl Harbor to refuel on 2 November 1984. The next day, she crossdeck embarked HC-11 Det 1 from Roanoke and also began loading Roanoke’s WestPac cargo in preparation for her extended assignment. Finally on 6 November, the replenishment oiler departed Pearl Harbor for Phase II of FleetEx. Kansas City would now support Battle Group Charlie, led by Carl Vinson, maintaining a busy schedule of unreps and vertreps as the group headed for the western Pacific. The large exercise, ultimately including more than 80 ships and 500 airplanes, had attracted Soviet attention from the beginning, and on 13 November, the same day the ship in-chopped to Seventh Fleet, a Tupolev TU-95 Bear D aircraft flew over Kansas City in the “Bear Box,” an area where Soviet aircraft surveillance was likely. Detaching from the battle group on 16 November, Kansas City steamed to Apra Harbor, Guam, arriving the next day. The ship refueled and reloaded her stores and got underway again in only 15 hours, rejoining Battle Group Charlie on 19 November.

As FleetEx entered its third phase, the battle group rendezvoused with Battle Group Alfa (Midway) and Battle Group Foxtrot (Enterprise) on 22 November 1984 for joint operations, with Kansas City servicing ships from all three groups. On 30 November, the oiler detached and sailed to Hachinohe Ko, Japan (1–2 December) to pick up a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for two of the battle groups, rejoining them on 2 December. With three large American battle groups now operating in the Sea of Japan relatively close to Soviet territory as well as their Pacific Fleet headquarters at Vladivostok, this phase of FleetEx garnered intense Soviet scrutiny. On the 2nd, Kansas City sighted a Kresta II-class antisubmarine warfare cruiser. The next day both Ilyushin IL-38 May and Tupolev TU-16 Badger aircraft flew over the oiler, and on the 4th, she saw a surfaced Soviet Foxtrot submarine.

After completing several underway replenishments on 4 December 1984, Kansas City left the battle groups and sailed to Sasebo, Japan, where a newly-repaired Roanoke awaited her arrival the following day. The oilers’ crews transferred the deployment cargo load over to Roanoke in eight hours, and with HC-11 Det 1 also re-embarked, Roanoke departed to resume her duties with the battle group. Kansas City’s crew then relaxed for two days (6–7 December) at Sasebo after their unexpected call to deployment duty in the western Pacific, during which they completed 123 unreps and 550 vertreps with 43 different ships from four carrier battle groups. Beginning her transit home on 8 December, Kansas City reached NSC Oakland on the 20th. The ship’s historian noted that “All hands were pleased to return to homeport in time for Christmas and the holidays with their loved ones.”

Following the unexpected mini-deployment and the customary year-end holiday leave and upkeep period, Kansas City resumed her preparations for the thrice-delayed OPPRE on 5 January 1985. She finally got underway to take the recertification exam on 29 January. Her underway period was extended, however, on 1 February when the oiler received tasking to support ships conducting antisubmarine warfare operations offshore. Following underway replenishments with Brewton (FF-1086) and Kinkaid (DD-965) on the 3rd, Kansas City made her way back to NAS Alameda to complete availabilities with Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity (SIMA) San Francisco and repair ship Hector (AR-7) through 1 March.

Departing for San Diego on 2 March 1985, Kansas City spent two weeks at NAS North Island for a training availability and combat systems readiness test (3–15 March). Then on the 16th she set off for Hawaii with HC-11 Det 5 embarked. After three days at Pearl Harbor (22–24 March), the oiler embarked ComDesRon 33 and his staff and got underway for CompTuEx 85-3 on 25 March. During the exercise, Kansas City conducted drills with salvage and rescue ship Brunswick (ATS-3), held a NATO Sea Sparrow missile firing exercise, joined an AWS choke point transit with a task group, and participated in antiair warfare, search and rescue, and Sneaky Pete exercises in addition to completing several unreps and token vertreps. On the 29th, the oiler called at Lahaina, Maui, for a weekend recreational visit. Returning to sea on 1 April, the ship then conducted several days of underway damage control refresher training. After touching briefly at Pearl Harbor on the 5th, Kansas City departed for the mainland, arriving at NSC Oakland on 12 April. She then entered the pre-overseas movement period, which included an availability alongside destroyer tender Samuel Gompers (AD-37). Following ammunition onload, she moved to Alameda.

Kansas City put to sea on 15 May 1985 to begin her next overseas deployment, joining up with guided missile frigates Brooke and Reid (FFG-30) the following day. The trio steamed to Pearl Harbor (22–24 May) and then continued on for Guam. On 31 May, the group spotted a Soviet intelligence collection ship (AGI) and Kansas City sent one of her helos to take photographs of it. After touching briefly at Apra Harbor, Guam, on 5 June, the ships departed for the Philippines. Kansas City spent two weeks at Subic Bay (10–23 June) adjusting her loads and conducting a maintenance availability. During her stay, Como. Paul D. Butcher, Commander Task Force (CTF) 73, visited the ship on 19 June.

On 24 June 1985, Kansas City sailed from Subic Bay with Battle Group Alfa, led by the aircraft carrier Midway, and headed for the Indian Ocean. The battle group—which also included England, Reeves (CG-24), Towers (DDG-9), Cochrane (DDG-21), Oldendorf (DD-972), Knox (FF-1052), Kirk, San Jose (AFS-7), USNS Mispillion (T-AO-105), and USNS Kilauea—reached the North Arabian Sea on 3 July and on 6–7 July held an exercise and turnover with the departing Constellation Battle Group. For the rest of the month, the replenishment oiler serviced the battle group during operations in the Gulf of Oman and the North Arabian Sea. On 2 August, Kansas City detached from the battle group to rendezvous with Towers, which was returning to the area from Diego Garcia. After completing an unrep with the guided missile destroyer the next day, the oiler proceeded to Diego Garcia and held a crossing the line ceremony while en route on the 6th. While in port (7–8 August), the ship loaded stores and some aircraft engines for Midway and also embarked Capt. Philip S. Anselmo, her prospective commanding officer. After returning to the battle group and delivering her cargo, Kansas City held a change of command ceremony while underway off the coast of Oman on 16 August. The next day, she completed exercises with the British ships Exeter (D-89), Charybdis (F-75), and Bayleaf (A-109). On the 23rd, the battle group headed for Diego Garcia, where on the 29th, the oiler onloaded the Portable Airlaunched-missile Telemetry Acquisition System (PATAS) telemetry van. Kansas City carried the van during missile exercises with guided missile cruiser Reeves and guided missile destroyers Cochrane and Towers on the 31st and then returned it to Diego Garcia by helicopter.

Kansas City rendezvoused with guided missile cruisers Horne (CG-30) and Fox of the Kitty Hawk Battle Group on 3 September 1985 to conduct North Arabian Sea rules of engagement exercises using the Sea Knight helicopters. The next day, the two battle groups completed turnover, and the ships of Battle Group Alfa set course for Australia. During the transit, Rear Adm. W. Lewis Chatham, Commander Carrier Group Five, embarked by helo for a ship visit. From 13–18 September, Kansas City anchored at Fremantle for a port call. Departing on the 19th, the oiler then supported the battle group off Western Australia during amphibious exercise Valiant Usher (19–22 September) with TG 76.3. Upon completion of the exercise, the battle group steamed for the Philippines.

Detaching from the battle group on 30 September 1985, Kansas City moored at Subic Bay, where she completed a maintenance availability and adjusted her loads. Como. Hugh L. Webster, CTF 73, also visited the ship on 2 October. Departing Subic Bay on the 5th, Kansas City began the lengthy eastward transit back to the United States. During the voyage home, the ship conducted her Command Assessment of Readiness and Training (CART) I. She also had the opportunity to celebrate the U.S. Navy’s 210th birthday twice after crossing the International Date Line on 13 October and repeating the day. She put in to Pearl Harbor on 18 October to load additional stores and fuel for the last leg of the trip and also embarked 42 male guests for the Tiger Cruise as well as a California Highway patrolman, who presented “Drive Safe” seminars during the transit. Prior to her departure the next day, Vice Adm. Kendall E. Moranville, Commander Third Fleet, paid a visit to address the crew. The oiler concluded her deployment on 26 October at NSC Oakland.

During her post-deployment stand down, Kansas City held maintenance availabilities with Samuel Gompers and SIMA San Francisco from 4–22 November 1985, including a hull cleaning on the 21st. She got underway again on 2 December, heading for the southern California operating area to provide replenishment services for Fleet Training Group San Diego. She returned to Oakland on the 6th and sailed again three days later with a new group of prospective commanding officers embarked for SOSMRC training. During this underway period, she also paused to offload fuel and ammunition in preparation for her upcoming PMA. Returning to Oakland on 13 December, she then entered the year-end leave and upkeep period.

On 6 January 1986, Kansas City moved to Southwest Marine Ship Repair Facility in San Francisco to commence another phased maintenance availability. During this period, crews worked to upgrade the ship’s engineering machinery, overhaul the underway replenishment winches, and install the Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS) and the AN/SLQ-25 NIXIE torpedo countermeasures system. The availability concluded with the completion of sea trials on 14–15 April, after which the oiler moored at NAS Alameda. At the end of the month, Kansas City took part in San Francisco’s Fleet Week and Blessing of the Fleet (25–27 April). From 5–12 May, she conducted her SQT in-port as well as three days underway with Kiska. She then underwent several safety and security inspections at Oakland.

Departing on 19 May 1986 with HC-11 Det 4 embarked, Kansas City next serviced the ships taking part in Antisubmarine Warfare Operations (ASWOPS) 86-4 in the eastern Pacific through 3 June, including Curts (FFG-38), Hewitt (DD-966), Kinkaid, Downes (FF-1070), Fanning (FF-1076), and Albert David (FF-1050). She then made another visit to Portland for the annual Rose Festival (4–9 June). The oiler returned to Oakland on 12 June and remained there for a week before getting underway again on the 19th to participate in amphibious exercise Kernel Potlatch during the entire month of July. Port visits to Anchorage, Alaska (10–13 July) and Prince Rupert (18–19 July), Esquimalt (22–23 July), and Vancouver, B.C., Canada (24–27 July) provided a diversion from the exercise. Returning to Alameda on 31 July, Kansas City then began a planned restricted availability.

After a busy first half of summer, Kansas City largely remained in port at Alameda or Oakland for the next several months, with brief underway periods for training and support of SOSMRC in September 1986. From 6–14 October, she completed her Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials (CSSQT) and then turned her attention to preparations for OPPRE (4–6 November) and an InSurv inspection (17–21 November). Kansas City spent the remainder of the year at Alameda, allowing the crew to spend the holiday season amongst family and friends at home.

Kansas City resumed operations on 3 January 1987 with a three-week trip to southern California to provide underway replenishment support for Fleet Training Group San Diego. In February, the ship completed her training readiness evaluation, and in March she traveled to SoCal yet again to support surge operations for Ranger (4–5 March) and to complete refresher training (8–13 March). After returning to Oakland, she held a dependents’ cruise on the 24th, after which she moved to Alameda. April brought a change of command to Kansas City and a trip to San Diego for a training availability (27 April–8 May). Back at Oakland, the oiler had several inspections and a surprise OPPRE in June. She also served as host ship for the Mexican sail training vessel Cuauhtémoc (BE.01) from 20–25 June.

Unexpectedly called on to deploy, Kansas City spent late June and early July 1987 making last minute preparations for departure. From 13–16 July, the oiler joined Battle Group Sierra, led by the venerable battleship Missouri (BB-63) and also including Long Beach (CGN-9), Bunker Hill (CG-52), Leftwich (DD-984), Curts, and Hoel, for ReadiEx. She quickly loaded out at Alameda on 20–21 July, and on the 25th Kansas City steamed westward to join the battle group as it headed for Hawaii. The group made a short stop at Pearl Harbor (31 July–1 August) and arrived at Subic Bay on 16 August. While the oiler busily loaded ammunition for the next phase of the deployment, Kansas City also underwent supply and security inspections. She departed Subic Bay independently on the 21st and conducted live firing exercises for her Phalanx CIWS and Sea Sparrow Missile System. Kansas City rejoined Battle Group Sierra on 24 August and steamed towards the Indian Ocean.

By September 1987, Battle Group Sierra arrived at its ultimate destination, the North Arabian Sea, and joined with Battle Group Echo, led by carrier Ranger, to form Joint Task Force Middle East. For the next twelve weeks, Kansas City serviced the 19-ship task force as it operated in the North Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman. Using her embarked helos, the replenishment oiler conducted airhead operations at Al Masirah, Oman, and her routine also involved receiving fuel and stores including fresh fruit and vegetables at Muscat, Oman. Special visitors to the ship during this time included Secretary of the Navy James H. Webb, Jr. (13 September) and Rear Adm. Dennis M. Brooks, Commander, Joint Task Force Middle East and former Kansas City commanding officer (13 November). Kansas City experienced a “major” fuel oil leak in a pump room on 23 September due to a faulty butterfly valve, but it was successfully brought under control. On 18 October, the ship approached within 35 miles of the Iranian coastline, and three days later on the 21st she refueled and rearmed the ships of the Operation Nimble Archer surface action group that had shelled two Iranian oil platforms on the 19th. Kansas City spent 110 days on continuous duty since her arrival on station, completing 211 unreps and 281 vertreps in that time.


Crew members stand by at the refueling station of guided missile frigate Thach (FFG-43) during an underway replenishment with Kansas City in the Persian Gulf, November 1987. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-88-02720, PH1 Chuck Mussi, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Crew members stand by at the refueling station of guided missile frigate Thach (FFG-43) during an underway replenishment with Kansas City in the Persian Gulf, November 1987. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-88-02720, PH1 Chuck Mussi, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)


Guided missile cruiser Long Beach (CGN-9), left, and destroyer Leftwich (DD-984), right, during an underway replenishment with Kansas City in the Persian Gulf, November 1987. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-88-02760, PH1 Chuck Mussi, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Guided missile cruiser Long Beach (CGN-9), left, and destroyer Leftwich (DD-984), right, during an underway replenishment with Kansas City in the Persian Gulf, November 1987. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-88-02760, PH1 Chuck Mussi, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

On 24 November 1987 after conducting a vertrep with guided missile destroyer Chandler (DDG-996), Kansas City rendezvoused with Battle Group Sierra and began the lengthy journey home. The ship crossed the equator on the 27th and held the appropriate rituals to cleanse her ranks of slimy pollywogs. The oiler stopped in at Diego Garcia on 30 November to load fuel and stores and then continued on the next day to rendezvous with the battle group. From 9–16 December, the crew enjoyed a port visit at Fremantle (Perth), Australia, and then continued on with the battle group to enjoy the Christmas holiday at Sydney, Australia (22–29 December). Departing on 29 December, the battle group set course for Pearl Harbor.

Kansas City crossed the equator at the International Dateline on 5 January 1988, conferring the status of Golden Shellbacks on her crew. The ship arrived at Pearl Harbor on 10 January, embarking a group of Tigers the next day for the trip back to California. The battle group departed Pearl Harbor on 12 January and headed for the West Coast. Kansas City detached on the 16th and rendezvoused with Mount Hood two days later to offload her ammunition while en route to port. The oiler arrived at NSC Oakland on 19 January, ending the six month deployment.

Following her post-deployment stand down, Kansas City entered another cycle of preparations for operational readiness at the end of February 1988, completing CART, 3-M and a navigation inspection. After conducting a variety of underway drills on 14–15 March, she moored at NAS Alameda to have her hull cleaned. On 28 March, the oiler departed in company with Shasta and Kiska for the southern California operations area for underway training exercises. On the afternoon of the 29th while conducting ECC drills, Kansas City experienced an actual engineering casualty, when her emergency diesel generator failed and she lost all power. After efforts to restore the ship’s power failed, Kiska took the oiler in tow and headed for Long Beach Naval Shipyard. While en route early on the morning of the 30th, however, Kansas City’s engineers completed repairs and restored power to the ship. She released the tow with Kiska and the ships returned to their training exercises offshore. After arriving at NSC Oakland on 1 April, the oiler shifted to anchorage in San Francisco Bay on the 12th. From 17–20 May, she traveled to SoCal to conduct training and complete unreps with Missouri and the aircraft carrier Nimitz (CVN-68), and she held one more underway day at the end of May for ECC drills. Kansas City got underway on 5 June to rendezvous with TU 35.9.3 to participate in the Portland Rose Festival (8–14 June) as well as exercise Behavior Criterion. She returned to Oakland on the 17th. From 27 June–1 July, the ship operated in SoCal, completing three unreps including one with Ranger, and she also made a brief stop for fuel at the La Playa Fuel Pier in San Diego.

After spending the Independence Day holiday in port, Kansas City steamed from Alameda on 5 July 1988 with HC-11 Det 9 embarked en route to Rim of the Pacific 88. Commonly known as RimPac, the exercise brings together a large multi-national force of ships, submarines, and aircraft every other year off Hawaii to promote smooth interoperability and peaceful relations among the navies operating in the Pacific Ocean. Australia, Japan, and Canada also took part in the 1988 exercise. Kansas City rendezvoused with Cushing (DD-985), Fletcher (DD-992), and Reuben James (FFG-57) on the 7th, and after replenishing all three ships, she continued on independently to join with the Nimitz Battle Group, designated TG 337, the next day. Beginning on the 10th, the replenishment oiler began servicing many of the participating ships, including several destroyers from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. On the 17th, she rendezvoused with John Young (DD-973) to conduct mobile sea range drone recovery operations. Putting in to Naval Station Pearl Harbor on 20 July, she remained there for a week until departing on the 26th to rendezvous with TG 335.1 in support of CNO Project K-310. She detached from the task group on 30 July and returned to San Francisco on 1 August.

For the next two months, Kansas City operated locally with the exception of a three-week trip to San Diego for a training availability (17 August–6 September 1988). On 14 October, the ship moved from Oakland to Southwest Marine Shipyard in San Francisco to begin a phased maintenance availability. Three days later, she entered floating dry dock number two, where she remained until 23 November. The availability continued into the New Year, concluding with sea trials on 9–10 February 1989.

Kansas City operated locally in March and April 1989. On 10 May, she departed Alameda and steamed to San Diego, arriving on the 12th for a training availability. She remained at NAS North Island until the 30th, when she took on fuel and then put to sea the next day to replenish Battle Group Delta, led by Constellation, returning from a western Pacific deployment. While underway on 1 June, she fired her CIWS and conducted a Sea Sparrow missile exercise. She returned to Oakland on the 4th but departed again two days later to replenish another group of ships. As a last minute replacement for Flint, which experienced an engine casualty, the oiler accompanied this group—guided missile cruiser England, guided missile frigates Copeland (FFG-25) and Gary (FFG-51), and frigates Barbey (FF-1088), Gray (FF-1054), Hepburn (FF-1055), and Albert David—to the Portland Rose Festival (8–13 June). Stopping first at Astoria, Ore., the ship embarked 300 civilian guests for the transit up the Columbia River. During the festival, Kansas City served as host for Vice Adm. James F. Dorsey, Jr., Commander Third Fleet’s reception on 10 June. Another 200 guests sailed back to Astoria with the ship, including the Royal Rosarian Court of young women competing in the Rose Festival Pageant who provided entertainment in the form of song and dance. Reaching Alameda on 15 June, Kansas City operated locally for the next month.

On 17 July 1989, Kansas City got underway independently and conducted eight burials at sea. The next day, she received fuel from USNS Kawishiwi and then rendezvoused with frigate Bronstein (FF-1037) on the 19th to begin a deployment for a special project. During a three-day port visit at Mazatlan (22–25 July), the oiler embarked some midshipmen for their summer training, and several crew members also delivered donated food, clothing, and toys to two orphanages. The two ships then continued steaming south to conduct an EHF SATCOM project near the equator. Holding crossing the line ceremonies on 29 July, Kansas City initiated 213 sailors into the ranks of King Neptune’s trusty shellbacks. During the return transit north, the ships also made port calls at Rodman, Panama (7–11 August) and Acapulco, Mexico (16–21 August), where the midshipmen disembarked. The oiler returned to NSC Oakland on 26 August.

Sailing on 16 September 1989 with HC-11 Det 2 embarked, Kansas City got underway for PacEx 89. For more than three weeks, she serviced Battle Group Romeo led by battleship New Jersey and carrier Constellation during the four battle group exercises near the Aleutian Islands in the North Pacific and Bering Sea. During two separate ten-day periods during the exercise, the ship conducted an experiment in which the crew ate battle rations. “The reviews were mixed,” the ship’s historian recorded, “but the majority of the crew enjoyed the programmed combat meals.” On 11 October she put in to Esquimalt, B.C., where the ship embarked guests for a Tiger Cruise departing on the 16th.


Kansas City underway in choppy seas during PacEx 89, 30 September 1989. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-90-09415, PH1 Wilcox, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Kansas City underway in choppy seas during PacEx 89, 30 September 1989. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-90-09415, PH1 Wilcox, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

On the afternoon of 17 October 1989, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake rattled the Bay Area. Centered 60 miles south of San Francisco near Loma Prieta Peak, the disaster caused considerable damage in the region as well as 63 deaths and more than 3,000 injuries. Most of the fatalities occurred on Interstate 880 in Oakland, where the upper deck of the highway collapsed onto the lower deck over a section of more than a mile. The Bay Bridge and San Francisco’s Marina District also suffered significant damage. Kansas City arrived at NSC Oakland on the 18th and soon moved to San Francisco Harbor with her helos on standby to render assistance. The oiler’s crewmembers contributed to the disaster clean up and relief effort by moving food for the Salvation Army and inspecting buildings for structural damage.

Returning to normal duties in mid-November, Kansas City conducted a guest cruise of San Francisco Bay and the outer islands on 19 November 1989. The next day, she completed underway replenishments with three Canadian ships. On 9 December, the oiler departed for the southern California operating area, where she completed several unreps over the next several days. On the 12th, she conducted an unsuccessful launch of a NATO Sea Sparrow missile, with the radar operator unable to identify and lock on to the target. Returning to Alameda on 14 December, the ship entered the year end leave and upkeep period.

To begin 1990, Kansas City got underway on 17 January for two weeks of law enforcement operations (LEO) off the coast of southern California, returning to Alameda on 1 February. In mid-February, she commenced a three-month planned maintenance availability at Alameda. Work completed included the installation of Navy Standard Teletype, upgrades to the high frequency receivers, and updates to the NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System range and response time.

Immediately upon completion of the availability on 14 May 1990, Kansas City commenced a series of workups, inspections, and qualifications with four days underway for SLQ-32 electronic warfare system testing. The ship completed an independent steaming exercise on 4–6 June and then on the 19th departed for southern California for more exercises, including her aviation readiness evaluation, combat systems ship qualification trials, and several unreps. During this period, she also finished several renovation projects to ship spaces including the crew lounge, study lounge, underway replenishment group cabin, the mess decks, and the ship’s store. The oiler returned to Alameda on 28 June and then completed her training readiness evaluation two days later.

Scheduled to deploy again at the end of the year, Kansas City ramped up her trainings, evaluations, and inspections in preparation during the summer of 1990. Her evolutions included underway refresher training (9–27 July), OPPRE, and InSurv (13–17 August). With the coming of autumn, the oiler began operations with Battle Group Echo, led by aircraft carrier Ranger. From 26 September–5 October, the battle group took part in CompTuEx. The group conducted the first phase of ReadiEx from 9–17 October and completed the second half from 8–17 November. Upon her return to Alameda on 17 November, Kansas City entered the month-long pre-overseas movement period to allow the crew to make final personal and shipboard preparations for departure.

As Kansas City and the other ships of Battle Group Echo were completing their workups, developments half way around the world would significantly shape the course of their eventual deployment. On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, its small, oil-rich neighboring nation. In response to the action, the United Nations soon imposed economic sanctions upon Iraq as well as a naval blockade to enforce the sanctions. Over the next several months, Iraq and U.N. nations sought a diplomatic end to the crisis, but by the end of November, the United Nations set a deadline of 15 January 1991 for Iraq to withdraw its troops from Kuwait or potentially be forced to do so.

As a result of these developments in the Middle East, Battle Group Echo set off on deployment earlier than scheduled. With HC-11 Det 7 embarked, Kansas City departed from Alameda on 8 December 1990 to rendezvous with her battle group and head west. The oiler replenished the battle group as the ships sped directly across the Pacific to Subic Bay, arriving on 29 December. Kansas City completed a quick loadout and then continued on towards the northern Persian Gulf on 4 January 1991. During the transit while completing an underway replenishment on 14 January with Harry W. Hill (DD-986), the destroyer experienced an engineering casualty that caused the two ships to collide. Both vessels incurred some damage—Kansas City sustained two underwater holes in her fuel tanks, a crushed bulwark, and damage to her superstructure while Harry W. Hill’s sonar dome cracked—but both were able to continue on. Kansas City anchored at Fujairah the next day and then headed for the Persian Gulf on the 16th.

Meanwhile, Iraq still had not withdrawn its troops from Kuwait by the U.N.’s deadline. Thus early on the morning of 17 January 1991, a multinational coalition force led by the United States launched air attacks against Iraq, beginning Operation Desert Storm. That same day, Kansas City transited the Strait of Hormuz and entered the Persian Gulf, which was now a combat zone. From 22–23 January, the replenishment oiler docked at Jebel Ali, U.A.E., to load cargo and then got underway again to service the ships that were now fighting a war. During her time in the Gulf, in addition to her usual schedule of unreps and vertreps, Kansas City served as the vertical onboard delivery (VOD) logistics hub for the four-carrier battle force present in the Gulf. On 22 February, one of Kansas City’s H-46 helos made an emergency landing after experiencing an engine flame-out. The oiler anchored at the Sitrah, Bahrain, explosive anchorage on 27 February to load ammunition. The next day, following a four-day ground offensive that devastated Iraqi forces, President George H. W. Bush declared a ceasefire and the official liberation of Kuwait, bringing hostilities to a close. Kansas City received a Navy Unit Commendation for her service during Operation Desert Storm.

After the war ended, Battle Group Echo remained in the Persian Gulf to help maintain the peace. With the immediate crisis over, it became a good time to address the damage Kansas City had sustained in her January collision. The oiler steamed to Jebel Ali, arriving on 6 March 1991, and divers assessed the damage to the ship on the 9th. Repairs commenced the next day, and on 26 March, Kansas City resumed her duties of providing replenishments for the battle group. She returned to Jebel Ali twice more to observe the Easter holiday (30 March–2 April) and again for cargo onload (11–12 April). Departing on 13 April, Kansas City began the long transit home. Steaming through the Strait of Hormuz on the 16th, she left the Persian Gulf behind and completed turnover with her sister ship Camden the next day.


The aircraft carrier Ranger (CV-61) turns to port after completing an underway replenishment with Kansas City as the guided missile cruiser Valley Forge (CG-50) takes on fuel from the replenishment oiler, 28 March 1991. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-SC-93-05050, PH3 Bos, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: The aircraft carrier Ranger (CV-61) turns to port after completing an underway replenishment with Kansas City as the guided missile cruiser Valley Forge (CG-50) takes on fuel from the replenishment oiler, 28 March 1991. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-SC-93-05050, PH3 Bos, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)


An HH-46D Sea Knight of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 11 Detachment 7 assigned to Kansas City lowers a load of supplies to the flight deck of Ranger during a vertical replenishment in the Persian Gulf, April 1991. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-91-09118, JO1(SW) Gregg Snaza, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: An HH-46D Sea Knight of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 11 Detachment 7 assigned to Kansas City lowers a load of supplies to the flight deck of Ranger during a vertical replenishment in the Persian Gulf, April 1991. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-91-09118, JO1(SW) Gregg Snaza, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)


Officers and crewmen stand on Kansas City’s bridge wing during an underway replenishment, April 1991. Note the award symbols painted on the hull, including the large white E signifying the Battle E Award, which Kansas City won for the year 1990. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-91-09120, JO1(SW) Gregg Snaza, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Officers and crewmen stand on Kansas City’s bridge wing during an underway replenishment, April 1991. Note the award symbols painted on the hull, including the large white E signifying the Battle E Award, which Kansas City won for the year 1990. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-ST-91-09120, JO1(SW) Gregg Snaza, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

As Kansas City began her journey home, Rear Adm. Ronald J. Zlatoper, ComCarGru Seven, visited the ship on 25 April 1991. Crossing the equator on 27 April, the ship cleansed her ranks of 191 slimy pollywogs, including Capt. William E. Franson, who had assumed command of Kansas City on 6 February. Kansas City’s route back to the United States took her first to Pattaya Beach, Thailand (29 April–5 May) and then Hong Kong (8–13 May) for well-earned port visits. She additionally made a four-day call at Subic Bay (15–19 May) before making an overnight stop at Pearl Harbor to embark a group of Tigers for the final leg of the voyage. Departing Pearl Harbor with Battle Group Echo on 1 June, Kansas City pointed her prow towards the West Coast. On 3 June, the battle group took part in a “sea power demonstration” as Kansas City continued to replenish the other ships. She detached from the battle group on the 6th and the helo detachment flew off the ship the same day. Two days later, on 8 June, Kansas City finally reached Alameda “with the ship’s battle ensign flying proudly.” The ship’s historian noted that during this deployment, Kansas City “transferred 78 million gallons of fuel, 1,124 passengers, 98 tons of mail, and 100 tons of cargo. She received 213 ships alongside and conducted over 5,700 helicopter flight deck evolutions.” For her efforts over the course of the deployment, the oiler and her embarked helo detachment received the Navy Unit Commendation.

Shortly after completing her month-long post-deployment stand down, Commander Logistics Group One presented Kansas City with the 1990 Battle “E” award on 12 July 1991. She additionally earned six of eight department excellence awards for the year as well as the 1990 CNO Safety Award. She then began a series of inspections and assessments over the summer including CART from 22–24 July. She put to sea again from 5–10 August to refuel participants in exercise Varsity Player. During the rest of the month, she also served as ship qualification trials assist ship for replenishment oiler USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194), served as host ship for guided missile cruiser Texas’ (CGN-39) homecoming from her Persian Gulf deployment, and was underway for four days at the end of the month. She spent the long Labor Day weekend in port at Alameda and then got underway on 3 September with a detachment from HC-3 embarked for independent steaming exercises. She made a port visit at Vancouver (5–10 September), and then on the return trip to the Bay Area, she conducted unreps with Battle Group Delta, including one of the last underway replenishments with the storied aircraft carrier Midway prior to her decommissioning. She arrived at NSC Oakland on the 13th.

On 9 October 1991, Kansas City moved into dry dock at Southwest Marine Shipyard in San Francisco, where she spent the next four weeks completing additional repairs of the hull and tank damage sustained in her collision with Harry W. Hill while on deployment in January. Following the availability, she moored at NAS Alameda on 2 November and operated locally for the rest of the year. Following her holiday leave and upkeep period (13 December–5 January), Kansas City returned to Southwest Marine on 6 January 1992 to begin a three-month planned maintenance availability with the shipyard, SIMA San Francisco, and the destroyer tender Samuel Gompers. Work accomplished during the availability included installation of a new NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System, a complete combat systems evaluation, overhaul of crew living areas to improve habitability, lead and asbestos removal throughout the ship, and refurbishment of all underway replenishment equipment on the main deck. During PMA, Kansas City and Shasta also hosted the Canadian destroyer escorts Qu’appelle (DDE.264) and Kootenay (DDE.258) during their port visit to San Francisco on 6 March. The availability ended on 9 April with the successful completion of sea trials.

Following the availability, Kansas City returned to normal operations and began workups for her next deployment. She put to sea from 20–23 April 1992 for engineering trials and crew training and then had a hull cleaning at the end of the month. From 11–22 May, the oiler completed in-port and underway replenishment training with Shasta, which fully qualified Kansas City to conduct refueling and replenishment operations. She continued operating locally until 3 June when she departed en route to San Diego, putting in to NAS North Island on the 5th to complete a three-week training availability. Workups continued through the summer, with the ship completing her Training and Readiness Evaluation in mid-July and OPPRE on 4–5 August. Following a change of command on the 11th, Kansas City departed from Alameda two days later and headed to SoCal to complete refresher training. While operating off Point Loma near San Diego, the oiler crossed behind a small vessel and damaged some fishing nets. The commanding officer, executive officer, and navigator were all attending an unrep briefing and were not on the bridge at the time of the incident. Capt. Michael D. Malone, Kansas City’s new commanding officer, believed that the lookouts spotted the net buoys too late to avoid the net.

Kansas City returned to Oakland on 4 September 1992. Taking a brief break from their workup activities, on 19 September the oiler held a dependents’ cruise around San Francisco Bay “to demonstrate their hard-learned skills and to share their pride and professionalism with family members and friends.” She then served as the duty oiler for the northern and southern California operations areas for a two week period, conducting 18 replenishments for ships of the fleet while underway from 21 September–4 October.

In the fall, Kansas City commenced exercising with her battle group to prepare for her next scheduled deployment. Departing on 22 October 1992, the oiler steamed to NAS North Island to embark HC-11 Det 7 and to load special equipment. She got underway again on the 26th to participate in CompTuEx 93-3 with the Nimitz Battle Group. She returned to NAS North Island on the 29th for an overnight fuel and stores onload and departed again the next day to rejoin the battle group for CompTuEx and FleetEx 93-1A. While underway approximately 460 miles west of San Diego on 8 November, the H-46 helicopter Sideflare 52 experienced trouble with her transmission. Lt. Mark Goodwin turned his helo back towards Kansas City, but while still four miles out, the transmission oil pressure dropped dangerously low. Goodwin brought the Sea Knight down to the water allowing the helo’s crew—Lt. Jake Ryan, AE2 Peter Martino, and AMH3 Robert Cayse—to evacuate safely in a life raft. Goodwin then lifted up and continued on towards the oiler but soon had to abandon the craft, which quickly sank. The ship’s second helo, piloted by Lt. Mike Lindbloom, rescued all four members of the aircrew. The helicopter detachment flew off the ship on 11 November, and Kansas City arrived at NSC Oakland the same day. The ship spent the rest of the month in an intermediate maintenance availability.

With HC-11 Det 7 once again embarked, Kansas City departed for San Diego on 3 December 1992. After pausing at North Island, she sailed on the 7th for the second half of FleetEx with the Nimitz Battle Group. She returned to North Island to refuel and resupply on the 10th and then rejoined the battle group the next day. She completed 17 unreps during the exercise as well as a vertical replenishment with the submarine Birmingham (SSN-695). The helo det flew off the ship on the 18th, and on 19 December, Kansas City steamed in to NAS Alameda to begin the year-end stand down period.

With the deployment date rapidly approaching, January 1993 featured numerous pre-deployment briefings for the officers and crew of Kansas City as well as loadout of stores, ammunition, and fuel and other final preparations for departure. HC-11 Det 9 embarked the ship on 28 January, and on 1 February, as recorded by the ship’s historian, “the crew of Kansas City manned the rails, took in all lines, and plotted a course beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and into the stormy seas of the Ocean ironically named ‘Pacific.’” The deployment got off to a rough start as the oiler faced gale-force winds and 28-foot seas for the entire week-long trip to Pearl Harbor. Battered by the heavy weather, Kansas City put in to Pearl on 8 February and immediately set to work to repair the storm damage, including the destroyed port CIWS mount. Departing on the 10th “after a monumental work effort by all hands,” the oiler then rendezvoused with the Nimitz Battle Group north of Hawaii. As the ships moved west, the battle group completed tactical maneuvers and a variety of exercises and drills to prepare for operations in the Persian Gulf, and Kansas City serviced the ships as required. On the 13th, Rear Adm. Robert P. Hickey Jr., ComCarGru Seven, visited the ship. She anchored at Hong Kong (26 February–2 March) where the submarine Birmingham moored alongside and at Singapore (6–11 March) before continuing on to the objective.


Kansas City underway in the Pacific, January 1993. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-SN-93-01365, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Kansas City underway in the Pacific, January 1993. (U.S. Navy Photograph DN-SN-93-01365, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

The Nimitz Battle Group reached the Gulf of Oman on 18 March 1993 and conducted turnover with the Kitty Hawk Battle Group. Kansas City test-fired a NATO Sea Sparrow missile, striking a towed drone, on 20 March, and then in the early hours of 21 March “under the cover of darkness and amidst a surreal display of swirling, glowing, green photoplankton on the surface of the water,” the battle group steamed through the Strait of Hormuz and entered the Persian Gulf. During this deployment, the battle group’s mission was to enforce the no-fly zone in Iraq south of the 32nd parallel as part of Operation Southern Watch and to continue enforcement of the U.N. sanctions imposed against Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. For her part, Kansas City served as the Afloat Logistics Coordinator for all U.S. surface naval forces operating within the Central Command, overseeing the tasking for area supply ships, including replenishment ammunition ship Shasta, fleet replenishment oilers USNS Pecos (T-AO-197) and USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO-193), and combat stores ship USNS Spica (T-AFS-9). With a base of operations in Jebel Ali, U.A.E., where she first arrived on 24 March, Kansas City’s helos also frequently made logistics runs to the airhead in Fujairah, U.A.E., to pick up additional supplies.

After a brief underway period in the Gulf, Kansas City returned to Jebel Ali on 31 March 1993 to prepare for a special mission. She loaded out and then put to sea on 7 April. Departing the Persian Gulf the same day, the replenishment oiler sailed towards northeastern Africa to support the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) participating in Operation Restore Hope to deliver humanitarian relief supplies to the people of Somalia. The African nation had been wracked by widespread civil unrest and famine for more than a year following a coup. On 12 April, Kansas City provided underway and vertical replenishments for amphibious assault ship Wasp (LHD-1), amphibious transport dock Nashville (LPD-13), amphibious cargo ship El Paso (LKA-117), tank landing ship Barnstable County (LST-1197), and the Australian heavy landing ship Tobruk (L-50), all operating in the vicinity of the city of Kismayo. After completing the important mission and then crossing the equator the next day, the trusty shellbacks of Kansas City set their attention on appeasing King Neptune and ridding the ship of her slimy pollywogs, initiating 217 sailors into the mysteries of the deep with the appropriate crossing the line rituals.

Kansas City returned to the Persian Gulf on 17 April 1993 and moored at Jebel Ali the next day. After a week in port to adjust her loads, she got underway on the 24th to support the replenishment needs of the ships in the Gulf while continuing to operate out of Jebel Ali. During one in-port period (4–13 May), the ship held a party to mark the deployment’s halfway point on 6 May, and on the 10th Kansas City sailors participated in a community relations project in Dubai. When the ship sailed on 13 May, she had to return to port after suffering a casualty to her main condenser. Following repairs, she was able to depart on the 18th, sailing to Bahrain where another group of crewmembers completed a community relations project on the 20th. After leaving Bahrain on 23 May, Kansas City temporarily left the Persian Gulf to make a port visit to Muscat, Oman (25–30 May), where a group from a British elementary school toured the ship.

Traveling with the battle group, Kansas City departed the Persian Gulf for the last time on 18 June 1993 and began the lengthy trip home. Along the way, she called at Phuket, Thailand (27–30 June) and Singapore (1–7 July). The oiler crossed the International Date Line on 18 July and marked the occasion by celebrating Valentine’s Day—the day lost on the westbound transit “to the disappointment of the wives and girlfriends at home”—with a steel beach picnic, captain’s call, and bingo night. The group called at Pearl Harbor on 21 July, and Kansas City embarked 60 male relatives of crewmembers for the Tiger Cruise. Filled with fun and interesting activities including various demonstrations of air and sea power with the battle group, bingo night, a damage control Olympics, and a steel beach picnic as well as the excitement of the impending homecoming for the crew, the week-long trip to California proved far more pleasant than the outbound transit. “A dense coastal fog” enveloped the ship as she approached the mouth of San Francisco Bay on the morning of 30 July, but it dissipated as Kansas City neared the Golden Gate Bridge, allowing the returning sailors a clear view of the elated family and friends waiting to greet them at the pier at Alameda later that morning.

Following a well-deserved post-deployment stand down through the month of August 1993, Kansas City commenced a busy schedule of trainings, inspections, and underway operations through the fall. On 14 September, she steamed for San Diego, mooring at NAS North Island on the 17th. She held a command picnic on the 18th, and then on the trip back to Alameda, the oiler completed an unrep with USNS Guadalupe (T-AO-200) and a CIWS pacfire before returning home on 22 September. Operating locally for the next three weeks, she completed the first phase of CART (5 October) and served as host ship for Samuel Gompers’ homecoming celebration (7 October).

On 14 October 1993, Kansas City sailed to the southern California operating area to serve as duty oiler for the fleet through 22 October. She then put in to NAS North Island and held a training availability from 25 October–8 November before returning to Alameda. Getting underway again on 15 November to serve as replenishment training assist ship for fleet oiler Cimarron (AO-177), Kansas City soon had to return to port after Cimarron suffered an engineering casualty. They stood out again the next day and completed SQTS on the 19th. The replenishment oiler made one last voyage during the year, departing on 30 November en route to British Columbia, Canada. She spent three days at the naval base at Esquimalt (3–7 December) and then on 8 December got underway in Nanoose Bay to serve as torpedo tracking platform for a special CNO project. Upon reaching the northern Pacific the next day after transiting the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Kansas City encountered heavy seas and reversed course to divert to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard until the weather passed. She resumed her trip home on the 11th and reached Alameda two days later. She spent the rest of the year in holiday leave and upkeep. In recognition of all of her hard work over the course of the year, Kansas City received the Battle “E” for 1993 and swept all of the departmental awards as well.

Kansas City began her final year of active service with a trip to SoCal to serve as duty oiler. Departing on 13 January 1994, the ship suffered a low oil pressure engineering casualty and had to return to port. After making repairs, she set off again later that day. She arrived at North Island the next day, and from the 18th–20th, she conducted six unreps with ships working with the Afloat Training Group. She completed one more underway replenishment with guided missile frigate Mahlon S. Tisdale (FFG-27) on the way home, returning to Alameda on 22 January. After a maintenance availability in February, Kansas City next turned her attention to her upcoming InSurv inspection. Getting underway for InSurv preparations on 2 March, a hot spring bearing in her No. 1 main engine forced her back to port the next day. She got underway again for a full power run on 22–23 March and then successfully passed InSurv at the end of the month.

On 18 April 1994, Kansas City steamed to San Diego for another tour as duty oiler for the Afloat Training Group. Completing her service on the 28th, she then steamed to Mazatlan to enjoy some liberty time in Mexico over the Cinco de Mayo holiday (3–9 May). She returned to Alameda on the 13th and held a dependents’ cruise the following day. For most of the rest of May, she served as assist ship for in-port and underway SQTS for Shasta and did the same for USNS Yukon (T-AO-202) from 6–17 June. During the underway portion of Yukon’s SQTS on 15 June, Kansas City took part in a search and rescue operation for a capsized motor boat off Monterey Bay. The following day, 16 June, Kansas City made her final underway replenishment, servicing aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). She spent the weekend at San Diego, and then during her final underway from NAS North Island to Alameda (20–23 June), she conducted a special CNO project off Monterey Bay on 21 June.

Following her return to Alameda, the crew of Kansas City began to prepare their ship for deactivation and decommissioning. On short notice, the oiler held a final change of command ceremony on 25 July 1994, with Cmdr. Phillip O. Boyer assuming command. Kansas City was decommissioned on 7 October 1994 at Naval Air Station Alameda. Following her decommissioning, the hull was transferred to the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, Benicia, Calif., under the custody of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD). She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 8 April 1997, and on 24 February 2001, MARAD slated her for disposal. In 2013, the former Kansas City was sold and moved to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, Calif., on 31 July for cleaning and preparation for disposal. Departing on her final journey on 15 August under tow by tug boat Rachel, ex-Kansas City arrived at All Star Metals in Brownsville, Tex., on 20 October and was subsequently scrapped.

Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
Capt. Karl J. Christoph Jr. 6 June 1970
Capt. Phillip R. Craven 28 September 1971
Capt. Robert E. Schwoeffermann 27 October 1972
Capt. David N. Henriques 9 January 1973
Capt. Ronald R. Hansen 3 August 1974
Capt. Thomas G. Moore 29 June 1976
Capt. John R. Wilson Jr. 28 October 1977
Capt. Dennis M. Brooks 13 January 1979
Capt. Gary A. Scoffield 14 June 1980
Capt. Ralph E. Brown Jr. 8 January 1982
Capt. Bruce W. Churchill 26 January 1984
Capt. Philip S. Anselmo 16 August 1985
Capt. Ernest E. Christensen Jr. 3 April 1987
Capt. Leo M. Pivonka 6 January 1989
Capt. William E. Franson 6 February 1991
Capt. Michael D. Malone 11 August 1992
Cmdr. Phillip O. Boyer 25 July 1994


Stephanie Harry

27 March 2020

Published: Wed Apr 22 13:02:20 EDT 2020