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USS Kanawha (AO-1)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Kanawha (AO-1)

USS Kanawha (AO-1) was laid down 8 December 1913 by the Mare Island Navy Yard, San Francisco, Calif.; launched 11 July 1914; sponsored by Miss Dorothy Bennett; and commissioned 5 June 1915, Lt. Comdr. Richard Werner, USNRF, in command.

USS Kanawha (AO-1) cleared San Diego 9 June 1915 and arrived Newport, R.I., for service with the Atlantic Fleet. During the following year the oiler made seven trips to Port Arthur, Tex., for fuel oil and gasoline. On 11 October 1916 USS Kanawha (AO-1) was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. Then, in addition to her fueling duties, she participated in tactical exercises, carried mail, and towed targets.

After America entered World War I, USS Kanawha (AO-1) was assigned to Commander, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, as an escort for the first A.B.F. sent to France. USS Kanawha (AO-1) cleared New York 17 June 1917 and crossed the submarine-infested Atlantic, arriving St. Mazarie 2 July. USS Kanawha (AO-1) returned to Philadelphia for repairs, then joined NOTS 8 January 1918. For the rest of the war, the oiler, ignoring torpedo warnings, carried fuel oil from Halifax to United Kingdom and French ports. USS Kanawha (AO-1) arrived New York 1 May 1919 from her final cruise; she was detached from NOTS 12 May for reassignment to the Atlantic Fleet.

USS Kanawha (AO-1) then accompanied the Battle Fleet on a goodwill cruise to Australia and New Zealand before resuming coastal fueling operations 25 September 1925. USS Kanawha (AO-1) decommissioned at Puget Sound Yard 18 December 1929. She recommissioned 5 June 1934 and cleared Bremerton 21 June for her base at San Pedro. For the following 6 years she cruised along the West Coast supplying oil and gasoline to ports in the Canal Zone, the Caribbean, and Hawaii. In 1941 USS Kanawha (AO-1) widened her operations, sailing east to Midway and Wake Islands and as far north as Alaska. The oiler was at Mare Island undergoing overhaul at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

USS Kanawha (AO-1) resumed fueling operations upon her return to Pago Pago 13 February 1943. For the next 2 months she serviced ships engaged in the struggle in the Solomon Islands. On 7 April a group of enemy "Vals" slipped through fighter defenses and zeroed in on USS Kanawha (AO-1) as she awaited an escort in Tulagi Harbor. At 1502, shortly after clearing the harbor, the slow and vulnerable oiler came under bomb attack. The first five planes hit an oil tank under the bridge, causing fires to spread rapidly along the deck. The tug USS Rail towed USS Kanawha (AO-1) on the west side of Tulagi where she was beached shortly before midnight However, she slid off into deep water and sank before daybreak 8 April. Nineteen of her crew were lost.

For a complete history of USS Kanawha (AO-1) please see its DANFS page.