USS WITCHITA (AOR-1)
second Wichita (AOR-1) was laid down on 16June 1966 at Quincy, Mass., by
the General Dynamics Corp.;
launched on 16 March 1968; sponsored by Mrs. Howard B. Yeager; and commissioned on 7 June 1969,
Capt. Robert R.
Deibler in command.
fitting out in the Boston Naval Shipyard, Wichita on 17 June sailed for
the west coast. Following stops at San Juan,
Puerto Rico, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
and after transiting the Panama Canal, she arrived at Long Beach, Calif., her home port, on 19 July. For the next four months, she remained at
Long Beach undergoing postconstruction
availability. In December, she got
underway to conduct standardization trials,
followed by shakedown training. In February 1970, the ship began a two-month post-shakedown availability at Long Beach. In April, she began normal
operations out of Long Beach, which included type training and damage control training which kept
the ship busy until 22 June, when she
began her first deployment to the
western Pacific. She changed operational
control to Commander, 7th Fleet on Independence Day and arrived in Subic
Bay on 11 July. After adjusting her load at
Subic, she got underway for her first
line period in support of the combat ships operating off the coast of Vietnam.
During her first deployment to the
western Pacific, Wichita made five separate line swings to replenish the ships operating on
"Yankee Station." She
terminated each at Subic Bay and varied her routine with two liberty calls at Hong Kong. The ship concluded her first deployment when she
arrived back in Long Beach on 2
Wichita spent the next six months engaged in operations out of her home port. These included
refresher training, underway
replenishments, and port visits to other American and Canadian ports. She also
participated as a support ship in the
tests conducted on the new Mark 48
torpedo. On 7 August, she departed Long Beach for her second tour of duty with the 7th Fleet. She arrived in Subic Bay on the 24th and embarked upon her first line swing on the 31st. After two
periods on station off Vietnam, Wichita visited Sattahip, Thailand, late in October. Two more line periods followed
in November and early December. On
10 December, however, she received
orders to join a contingency force
bound for the Indian Ocean in the wake of the Indo-Pakistani War. She
remained in the Indian Ocean until early
January 1972 at which time all ships returned
to the operating area off the coast of Vietnam. Wichita, however, after a very brief tour on station off Vietnam went to
Subic Bay for a much-needed upkeep. She made
one more line swing to "Yankee Station"
in February and then headed back to Long Beach, where she arrived on 31 March. Wichita remained in the United States only long enough to allow for
the usual month of post-deployment
leave and upkeep and to conduct some
major repairs at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
July, she again pointed her bow westward and set a course for the Far East. On
4 August, the ship
arrived in Subic Bay. During the next six months, Wichita made
six replenishment voyages to the waters surrounding
Vietnam. She also made frequent stops at Subic Bay to load supplies and conduct repairs as well as liberty calls
at Hong Kong and at Sattahip in Thailand. She concluded that deployment
when she arrived back in Long Beach on 16
of that deployment coincided with the end to American involvement in the Vietnamese civil war. While that stopped Wichita's support
of combat operations, it did not interrupt her pattern of deployments to the western Pacific. She settled
into a more normal routine
alternating peacetime operations with the 7th Fleet with routine duties along the west coast of
the United States.
After six months on the west coast of the United States, the ship embarked upon her fourth tour
of duty with the 7th Fleet, her first under peacetime conditions. She provided routine support for
the ships of the 7th
Fleet and for the ships assigned to a fast carrier task force operating in the Indian Ocean. She returned to Long Beach on 26 March 1974 and, following post-deployment standdown and a brief
period of west coast operations,
entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 28 June to begin her first regular
overhaul. She remained in the shipyard
until the following January.
January 1975, her home port was changed from Long Beach to San Francisco. Four
days later, she
completed overhaul and got underway for the first time since early in the previous
summer. Following trials
out of Long Beach, a voyage to Acapulco, Mexico, and refresher training out of San Diego, Wichita
in her new home port on 4 April. After a month of preparations, the ship departed San Francisco on 6 May, bound for a
seven-month deployment to the western
Pacific. She arrived in Subic Bay on 24 May
and began a tour of duty with the 7th Fleet characterized by a full schedule of
underway replenishments and port visits
to such places as Hong Kong, Sasebo, and Yokosuka in addition to Subic Bay. Her
assignment lasted until 26 November
at which time she departed Subic Bay to return home. She made a stop at
Pearl Harbor early in December and reentered San Francisco on the 15th.
spent the entire
year of 1976 engaged in normal operations out of San Francisco. She participated in type training and in
several operational readiness exercises. By the end of the year, she was preparing for her sixth deployment to
the western Pacific. That
deployment began on 12 April 1977 after a period of refresher training. After a somewhat extended voyage, she arrived in
Subic Bay on 4 May. During
this deployment, the ship initially operated from Subic Bay; but, after 26 July, she limited
heractivities to the
East China Sea and the Sea of Japan, operating from the Japanese ports of Sasebo and
Yokosuka. Those duties in support of the 7th Fleet continued until 6 November when she departed
Yokosuka to return to the United States.
She concluded the deployment at Alameda,
Calif., on 21 November.
post-deployment standdown, Wichita resumed normal west coast operations. These included the usual type training and
operational readiness exercises
as well as port visits to American and Canadian ports. She also helped to train naval reservists. While participating in the
initial phases of RIMPAC 78, the ship visited Pearl Harbor on 5 and 6 April 1978 to take on stores and to
give her crew a brief liberty.
She returned to Pearl Harbor later in the month at the conclusion of her RIMPAC duties. Such
activities as these
occupied her time until 2 November when she entered the Triple A Shipyard at Hunters Point, Calif., to
begin a nine-month overhaul. As of the summer of 1979, she was completing that overhaul.
battle stars for Vietnam service.
[Note: The above USS WITCHITA (AOR-1) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS WITCHITA (AOR-1), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]