The name Kalamazoo has graced U.S. Navy ships in several eras. The most recent was the USS KALAMAZOO (AOR6), a U.S. Navy replenishment oiler, one of seven of that class named in honor of U.S. cities or rivers with names of Native American origins.
Launched 11 November 1972, the 659-foot ship held approximately 400 crew members and 22 officers and carried fuel, weapons, and enough food to service 45,000 people for up to 30 days. She served proudly, including during the Persian Gulf War (1991). Setting a Navy refueling record, she was capable of pumping 28,000 gallons-per-minute to ships that pulled along side. A 1991 Kalamazoo Gazette editorial, described the ship’s impressive service record by saying that she performed “... the humble but vitally important job of refueling battleships and transporting supplies in mine-infested and potentially dangerous waters...the USS KALAMAZOO crew set a U.S. Navy record for wartime in assisting more than 100 ships....” The ship also provided supplies to support United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Bosnia. She was decommissioned in 1996.
The people aboard the USS KALAMAZOO served an important though often under-appreciated purpose. A plaque that hung on-board read, “Logistics is as vital to military success as daily bread is to daily work.” - Rear Admiral Alfred T. Mahan.
An earlier ship bearing the name USS KALAMAZOO (AOG 30) was built in 1944. The tanker transported cargo and fuel in the Pacific. Decommissioned in 1947, she is now serving the Government of Columbia as the Bals de Lazo. In 1863, during the Civil War, the navy ordered the construction of four larger warships called the Kalamazoo Class. However, construction was halted in 1865.