Kennebec II (AO-36)
A river in central and southern Maine flowing from Moosehead Lake to the Atlantic.
The second Kennebec (AO-36) was launched as Corsicana 19 April 1941 by Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding Corp., Sparrows Point, Md.; sponsored by Mrs. E. Rolfe Brown; renamed Kennebec 9 January 1942; acquired by the Navy from the Maritime Commission 13 January 1942; and commissioned 4 February 1942, Comdr. S. S. Reynolds in command.
Kennebec departed 11 February 1942 and joined the Service Force of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. The fleet oiler arrived New Orleans 27 February and commenced oil runs from Gulf ports to depots along the Atlantic coast and South America. Kennebec was almost constantly at sea, supplying the fleet from Brazil to Newfoundland with vital fuel oil, kerosene, diesel oil, and aviation gasoline. She departed Norfolk 4 May for fueling operations in the Caribbean, then resumed coastal oil runs throughout the summer.
Kennebec cleared Hampton Roads, Va., 24 October to provide logistic support to the American invasion fleet in the North African campaign. The fleet oiler arrived off French Morocco 7 November and operated with a carrier formation near the coast, remaining there until the landings were completed. She sailed for Norfolk 14 November, arriving there 12 days later to continue her coastal fuel runs. She made another cruise to Casablanca in January 1943 with a cargo of gasoline for the continuing operations in North Africa.
Upon her return to Norfolk 14 February, Kennebec resumed fuel runs from Port Arthur, Tex., to various ports along the Atlantic coast. She continued these operations for 11 months, including another cruise to Casablanca in October. On 18 January 1944, she cleared Bayonne, N.J., to fuel ships of convoys bound to and from the United Kingdom. The fleet oiler returned to New York 13 February and commenced regular runs from Gulf and Atlantic ports to North Africa and the Caribbean. She made a total of four cruises to the submarine-infested waters of the Mediterranean during the year carrying oil and gasoline to support the fleet in that area.
Following an overhaul at Norfolk in January 1945, Kennebec cleared Norfolk 5 February for fueling operations in the West Indies. She sailed 28 March for another cruise to Oran and after discharging her cargo reported for duty in the Azores 15 April. The oiler returned Norfolk 28 May and resumed coastal fuel runs until 20 July when she departed Galveston, Tex., for the Pacific. She arrived in Japan 9 September via Pearl Harbor and Adak, Alaska, for duty as a station tanker supporting the occupation forces in the Far East. She remained there for 10 months replenishing the fleet in China and Japan with oil from Bahrein, Saudi Arabia. She cleared Shanghai, China, 8 July 1946 and put into Bremerton, Wash., 29 July for a much needed overhaul.
From 1947 to 1950 Kennebec was assigned to the Naval Transport Service, and circled the globe providing fuel to American ships from oil depots in Saudi Arabia, Aruba, and Texas. She operated both in the Atlantic and Pacific during this period, acting as the "lifeline" in the era of mobile seapower. Following coastal operations between California and Alaska, the oiler decommissioned at San Diego 4 September 1950.
Kennebec was recommissioned at Oakland 11 January 1951, Comdr. A. G. Beckman in command. Assigned to MSTS, she cleared San Pedro 9 March on the first of four fuel runs to the Hawaiian Islands that year. The oiler also replenished coastal ports in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. For the next 3 years, Kennebec shuttled oil to Hawaii and Alaska staging areas for the supply runs to the Korean battle zone. In addition to the increased activity in the Pacific because of the Communist aggression in Korea, Kennebec also made two cruises to the Caribbean before decommissioning at San Diego 25 September 1954.
Kennebee (T-AO-36) recommissioned 14 December 1956 at San Diego, Comdr. Naden F. Stimac in command. Following a cruise to Pearl Harbor 1-15 January, the oiler transited the Panama Canal and arrived Norfolk 10 February. She made six logistics cruises between Aruba in the Dutch Antilles to Norfolk before departing Bermuda 11 May for the Mediterranean. After supplying ports in Spain and Italy, she transited the Suez Canal to pick up fuel cargo in Arabia. She unloaded her cargo at Japan, then returned to the Atlantic to participate in the NATO exercise "Strikeback" during September. Kennebec returned to New York 12 October and decommissioned 31 October 1957. She was struck from the Navy List 14 January 1959.
As a result of the Berlin crisis, President Kennedy ordered an augmentation of the military forces. Kennebec was reacquired by the Navy and recommissioned 16 December 1961. She cleared New York 19 January, picked up cargo at Aruba and arrived at her new home port San Francisco 15 February. The oiler engaged in replenishment operations until June when she put into Hunter's Point for an extensive overhaul.
The overhaul was completed 5 January 1963, and Kennebec departed San Francisco 25 February 1963 for the Far East. She arrived Sasebo 1 April and commenced operations with the 7th Fleet peacekeeping force. The oilers played an important role of increasing the mobility of the fleet, a powerful factor helping to prevent crises from exploding into war. She returned to San Francisco 7 August and operated along the West Coast for the rest of the year. Kennebec departed San Francisco 21 March 1964 for another Far East deployment to replenish units of the mighty 7th Fleet. During the summer, the North Vietnamese Communist Navy decided to test the determination of the United States by firing on U.S. destroyers in international waters off the coast of Vietnam. On 4 August, President Johnson ordered the Navy to retaliate by destroying North Vietnamese naval bases and oil depots. Kennebec remained in the South China Sea through August until the crisis eased, and she returned to San Francisco 21 October.
During ensuing years, Kennebec continued to alternate operations along the West Coast with Far Eastern deployment. For example, she returned from the Orient 18 June 1966 after a cruise in which she had fueled many of the Navy's ships fighting off Vietnam. Then she operated out of San Francisco until heading back to the Far East 10 January 1967. She operated out of Subic Bay supporting the effort to thwart Communist aggression in southeast Asia until returning to San Francisco 8 September. Kennebec received one battle star for World War II service.