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Tomahawk I (AO-88)


A river in the state of Wisconsin.


(AO-88: displacement 21,650 (trial); length 523'6"; beam 68'0"; draft 30'10" (limiting); speed 15.1 knots; complement 267; armament 1 5-inch, 4 3-inch; class Escambia; type T2-SE-A2)

The first Tomahawk (AO-88) was laid down under Maritime Commission contract (M.C. Hull 1267) on 1 June 1943 at Sausalito, Calif., by Marinship Corp.; launched on 10 October 1943; sponsored by Mrs. W. L. Kidneigh; and commissioned at Portland, Oregon, on 16 April 1944, Cmdr. Benjamin W. Cloud in command.

Early in July 1944. Tomahawk completed her shakedown off the west coast and steamed via Pearl Harbor for the Marshalls. The oiler arrived at Eniwetok on the 24th, reported for duty with Service Squadron 10, and was soon underway for fueling operations in the Marianas. During August, she contributed logistic support for the final stages of the fight for the Marianas.

On 26 August 1944, Tomahawk departed Eniwetok for Manus with a logistics task unit for the Third Fleet. Steaming from Seeadler Harbor on the 31st, she relieved oilers Schuylkill (AO-76) and Millicoma (AO-73) which had collided. Through September and October, Tomahawk continued fueling duties for the Third Fleet, operating out of Seeadler Harbor. On 18 October, she rendezvoused with the damaged light cruiser Houston (CL-81) and heavy cruiser Canberra (CA-70) as they returned from a successful Fast Carrier Task Force strike on Formosa. After refueling the battle-scarred ships and their escort, Tomahawk continued on to her assigned area where she provided support for units active in the battle for Leyte Gulf.

On 20 November 1944, Tomahawk lay anchored at Ulithi when a Japanese midget submarine penetrated the lagoon. The undersea raider sent fleet oiler Mississinewa (AO-59) down in flames before being rammed and sunk by destroyer Case (DD-370) just a mile and one-half from Tomahawk.

As the year 1944 ended, Tomahawk continued fueling missions and, in January, ranged as far as Leyte Gulf in support of the Fifth Fleet. In the early months of 1945, Tomahawk continued to operate out of Ulithi providing direct logistic support to the fleet in and near the combat zone. During the first two weeks of February, she fueled units of Adm. Raymond A. Spruance's Fifth Fleet preparatory to operations off Nanpo Shoto and, later in the month, supported Task Force 58 which was striking targets in the Tokyo area. In March, Tomahawk fueled units in preparation for strikes on Nansei Shoto and Japan. While at Kerama Retto early in April, Tomahawk fought off enemy air raiders and later suffered some minor damage to her plating and degaussing cable while fueling the battleship Arkansas (BB-33). Returning to Ulithi in April, Tomahawk continued underway replenishment operations in support of the Fast Carrier Task Force before steaming from Ulithi in May, bound for overhaul at Portland, Oregon.

Repairs completed, she got underway again on 20 July 1945 and proceeded via San Francisco to Pearl Harbor. The successes of American naval forces in the Pacific made it possible for her to make the entire voyage to the Carolines without an escort. She arrived at Ulithi just in time for the unconditional surrender of Japan. She subsequently performed fueling tasks and exercises with units of Adm. William F. Halsey' Jr.s Third Fleet, operating out of Tokyo and Ulithi before departing Tokyo late in October. Tomahawk steamed via San Francisco and the Panama Canal for the east coast and arrived at Norfolk on 11 December 1945.

Tomahawk was decommissioned on 5 January 1946 and was stricken from the Naval Register on 21 January 1946. Following reconversion at Norfolk, she was turned over to the Military Sea Transportation Service. Through the remaining 1940's and throughout the 1950's, she served in decommissioned status, carrying fuel for the American fleet around the world. In September 1961, the tanker was transferred to the Maritime Administration, assigned to the National Defense Reserve Fleet, and berthed in Suisun Bay, Calif. In 1966, she was converted to a container ship, renamed Maine, and sold to the Hudson Waterways Corp.

Tomahawk received six battle stars for her World War II service

Published: Tue Jun 07 11:37:09 EDT 2022