The USS MAUNA KEA is no more. She now lies beneath the Pacific. Her "burial at sea" was brought about by SM-2 Anti-Air and Harpoon Missiles during the 20th RIMPAC exercises. It has been 40 years since I last saw her. It's now time to share some memories and photos.

Even though my comments and photos are all from the period of 1971-72, this web site is dedicated to all sailors who served aboard USS MAUNA KEA during her long and dedicated service from 1955 to 1995.

Larry R. Matthews


1. On Tonkin Gulf.

2. What The Heck Is An Unrep?

3. Some Antique Photos.

4. Mauna Kea Shipmate Contacts.

5. A Last Look at Mauna Kea.

6. Mauna Kea Cruise Book Memorabilia.

7. E-Mails from MK Shipmates

8. Mauna Kea Commissioning Program

9. Merry Christmas from Mauna Kea!


In October of 1971 I found myself assigned to the ammunition ship, USS MAUNA KEA (AE-22) that was then serving off of the coast of Vietnam. I was assigned to an office job as an SN in the Cargo Office of Third Division. I had previously passed the petty officer YN3 examination and was slated to get my "crow" in April of 1972. I guess that's why I got an office job instead of being assigned to "scrape paint".

The MAUNA KEA was definately a "work ship" and sometimes we spent 16 hour days off of Vietnam "unrepping" (underway replenishing) with Aircraft Carriers and other US Navy vessels. We provided them with bombs, rockets and other ammunition. In other words we were a floating bomb.

There were two episodes that I remember that scared the hell out of me during the 4 months that we were deployed off of Vietnam:

I remember one night at 10 P.M.. We had just barely turned our lights out and gone to our racks to sleep when the 1MC (loudspeaker) blared out "General Quarters! Fire, Fire, in Hold number 2! This is not a drill!".

We hit the deck and went to our General Quarters stations expecting any moment to be blown into oblivion by the ammunition stored in hold number 2. But, fortunately, it was not to be - I am still here! The "fire" turned out to be an electrical short and sparking in an electrical box in the hold.

Later in 1971 I was on deck one afternoon watching one of my buddies use the fork lift to move a pallet of 500 pound bombs (a pallet is 6 bombs) across the deck. The ship was rolling very badly and the pallet shifted off of the forks of the fork lift. It rolled over about 4 times, finally stopping as it smashed down onto the deck. About 40 sailors let go a collective sigh of relief when we realized that we were still in one piece.

How was the environment on MAUNA KEA on a daily basis? I would say it was rather dangerous. As a matter of fact I got hurt more times during that 9 months than the rest of the 4 years I spent in the Navy. That does not count the 2 weeks of chronic seasickness that I experienced the first time we went to sea (my overseas shots gave me the flu!). Her 511 foot long bulk rode pretty rough and rolled a bit. If you tried to go up or down a ladder it seems the ship either threw you up or dragged you down. I hit my head several times (can't you tell?), crunched my fingers in a door and badly sprained my right wrist when the ship threw me down a ladder and I grabbed the rail to save myself.

But the worst injury I received was when I was in Hold #3 and was walking by a pallet of 2,000 pound bombs. Aluminum straps were used to hold the bombs on the pallet and once they were snipped they stuck out. As I walked by, my right hand got too close and was slit about an inch across on the top of my hand. I went up the elevator, across the main deck, and up to the Sick Bay. While I sat there getting 5 stitches in my hand from the Corpsman, the Medical Officer came in all excited. He wanted to know who got hurt! He said he had followed my blood trail all the way from the main deck! I still have that scar.

Even though I was a clerical worker on MAUNA KEA I was also assigned to "Unreps" right along with the rest of Third Division. Was "Unrepping" my favorite pasttime? Hardly.

Did we work hard? Yes! As a reminder I still have a letter to my parents that was signed by Cargo Officer LT M. G. Morisette (we called him Uncle Marty!). He lauded the crew of MAUNA KEA for transferring 767 tons of "cargo" in just over 3 hours. I noticed that LT Morisette referred to what we handled as "cargo" and not ordnance or ammunition. I guess he didn't want to scare the folks at home. This "unrep" was with a deploying aircraft carrier on April 10, 1972. This transfer rate was a "record"! Plus we did it safely! AND it sure made me tired! I received some E-mails from LT Morisette in March of 2011 and I was very pleased to know he is happy in retirement in Oregon.

I also remember standing 4 hour watches aboard MAUNA KEA. Most of the time I stood the 2 AM to 6 AM watches. Every 2 hours I had to check all of the flare and ammo lockers aboard the ship. Some were topside but some were also down in the deep holds. There were ladders to be climbed down that went "straight down 3 decks" to get to some of the lockers. If someone lost their hold they would have fallen a long way. Scary. Once I arrived at a flare or ammo locker I checked the temperature gauge on each locker. Wanted to make sure it didn't get too hot and explode! What a thought......

Did the ship roll a lot? Heck yes! I remember one night on the mess decks when we were watching a movie. The ship hit a big roll and everything slid off of the tables onto the floor. Lotsa popcorn in a pile!

I also remember one night when I had my stereo on and was listening to my new Sony reel-to-reel. Someone reported a "man overboard", I ran to my general quarters station and the ship did a 180. When I got back I found the reel-to-reel had flown off of my desk and into my chair. Lucky that it landed softly with no damage. Also lucky that the "man overboard" alert was an error.

But it was not all work and no play aboard the ship. Those 250 officers and men knew how to party! Especially in places like Yokosuka, Japan and our main port of call, Subic Bay, Philippines. Subic Bay included the charming little town of Olongopo City that produced more cases of Venereal Disease than, most probably, any other place on earth.

We returned to the Concord Naval Weapons Station in the San Francisco Bay area in February 1972. I stayed aboard MAUNA KEA until July of 1972 when I was assigned to the USS ORISKANY.

I have many fond memories of my relatively short time aboard MAUNA KEA and I have included some photos near the end of this web site that show just what our miserable little life was like.

The USS MAUNA KEA (AE-22) was launched on 5-6-55 and decommissioned on 6-30-95. Fortunately, my old ship made it 40 years without blowing up!

She was mothballed in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet in Carquinez Strait, not far from Port Chicago/Concord Naval Weapons Station on 12-18-98.

Then on July 12, 2006 she was towed out 50 miles northwest of Oahu and sunk as a target ship. After being blasted by rockets and bombs she refused to sink until late in the day. She was a tough old girl!

This was, surprisingly, just a few months after my other ship, the USS ORISKANY was sunk as an artificial reef (5-17-06).

May they both rest in peace!

While in port I stood Quarterdeck watches. This time with Chief Hudson and Seaman Bettencourt. With a 45 strapped on my hip I have often wondered how I managed to not blow a hole in my right foot. Mauna Kea's "E for Excellence" is on the bulkhead behind. November 1971 in Subic Bay.


Well, I guess I should explain to you in detail just what an Unrep, or Underway Replenishment, is. It was first developed by the US Navy in 1899 and is still used into the 21st Century.

Simply, it is when a ship wants to transfer something to another ship while underway and away from port. Both ships get fairly near to each other and a line is shot from the transferring ship to the receiving ship. Then a transfer rigging is strung from one ship to the other. Cargo such as food, fuel or Ammunition is then transferred to the receiving ship.

Obviously this is a very hazardous operation but there is rarely a mishap. If both ships can keep correct station distance from each other and as long as the speed is keep exact there is usually no problem.

But mishaps have occurred. Ships have drifted apart resulting in lines exploding apart and hurting sailors. The opposite of that is when two ships get too close and collide. During underway replenishment on June 28, 1972, the USS NITRO (AE-23) and the aircraft carrier USS ORISKANY collided and did damage to both ships. Fortunately, there were no human casualties.

Here is a photo that I took on December 11, 1972 on Tonkin Gulf. It's a perfect example of an Unrep. It's between USS WACCAMAW and USS ORISKANY. They were transferring fuel. Note the large wave washing over the WACCAMAW's crew.

What is it called when a helicopter transfers cargo to a ship? A VERTREP!


These photos, and others, have been stuck in an old, deteriorating photo album for 40 years. Like me, they show their age: but the memories and emotions are still clear!

USS MAUNA KEA in Subic Bay, Philippines. December 5, 1971.

Virgil Taylor presenting me with a $20.00 bill. Based upon the look on my face it must have been for some nefarious purpose. Subic Bay. November 1971.

Scott Kendrick. He was the ship's postal clerk. Taken in the post office on December 4, 1971. Back in the "good old days" of reel-to-reels, 8-tracks, turntables and non-digital adding machines. I must admit - I DO miss them!

On the Mauna Kea boat deck at Subic Bay on December 5, 1971.

MAUNA KEA cruising toward Vietnam. December 12, 1971.

Ron Bastrup "pulling the line" during unrep with USS ASHTABULA. December 21, 1971.

Cramped quarters in the Third Division Cargo Office. December 22, 1971. (Photo taken by GMG3 Dennis McCoy)

MAUNA KEA, looking East toward Subic Bay. A Talos missile is on the main deck. December 26, 1971.

The next three photos were taken during the Unrep with USS MASON on January 12, 1972. The first is of Bob Maldonado and Jeff Johnson. It was a dirty and tiring job. Tonkin Gulf. (According to the US Navy Memorial Website, Jeff retired as a Captain in November 2008! Bob reports he retired as a Colonel in the Air Force! Good going guys! Happy retirements!)

Chris Roseneau, glad to have the unrep with USS MASON over with. January 12, 1972.

Me on January 12, 1972. I don't look as tired as I felt. My jacket shows the patch for NAVCOMMSTA SAN FRANCISCO and USS MAUNA KEA.

MAUNA KEA leaving Subic Bay on the way to Yokosuka, Japan. We carried a packaged F4 Phantom fighter-bomber on our helo deck for the trip. It's that white thing! January 19, 1972.

Me, Mike Kilgore and Bill Schlueter celebrating my 21st birthday at the Ilikai Restaurant in Honolulu. January 29, 1972. A stopover on our way back to the U.S.

Me aboard MAUNA KEA at the Concord Naval Weapons Station. Just after I made YN3. April 10, 1972.

If you know of the whereabouts of any of the shipmates shown in these photos, please e-mail me with their info. Most of them have been lost in the annals of time.

I also would love to hear from any other MAUNA KEA shipmates.


Mauna Kea in 1961. Photo thanks to Joe Goetsch.

As MAUNA KEA Shipmate Contacts come in I (with their permission) will post their names, ranks, jobs on board and e-mail addresses so they can be contacted. If there is no e-mail address shown, you may e-mail me and I will forward mail to them directly. Also, if at a later time you would like your info deleted, I will act on it immediately. It has been great hearing from ex-shipmates and their families. KEEP THE E-MAILS COMING!

Here are the contacts to date:

LT(jg) RICK LANG - Electrical Officer from Oct 71 to Oct 72 -

HM2 DWIGHT RHOADES - Hospital Corpsman from Nov 68 to Dec 71.

FTG2 JOE GOETSCH - Fire Control Technician, Third Division, from Nov 59 to September 63 -

BM3 DOUGLAS C. RYON - BM3, 1965 to 1966 -

SN VINCENT BLANCHETTE - Second Division, from Feb 24, 1972 to April 2, 1973 -

YNC CHUCK CRAVEN - LPO for X-NAV Division and the Ship's Secretary in the Ship's Office, from December 9, 1989 to October 4, 1992 -

HM3 MICHAEL VAPORIS - Hospital Corpsman from January 1978 to September 1979 -

MM3 WALTER RAND - A-Gang from Dec 28 1995 to June 20 1996 -

SK1 KEN WARRING - Storekeeper from 1956 to 1960 - - Ken is the coordinator for AE22 for the "AESA Ammunition Ships Association" and has info on the next MAUNA KEA reunion.

QM2 PETER INGENHUTT - Quartermaster from May 1971 thru April 1974 -

SM3 DELBERT KERR - July 1972 thru November 1973 -

BT3 GLEN NEWMAN - 1962 thru 1964 -

SN CHARLES CRAVENS - 1956 thru 1958 - Aboard during the ships commissioning.

HM3 PAUL CLEMENT - Late 1968 thru June 1969 -

IC2 BOBBY FOSTER - Aug 1965 thru August 1967 -

SN JOHN COKOS - 1968 to 1970 - Deck Division -

BM3 WILLIE SCOTT - March 1957 to August 1962 - Second Division - Plank Owner -

SH2 MEL HAUGERUD - February 1969 to November 1972 - Ship's Store -

FNMM ROLAND WILKINSON - July 1961 to July 1963 - Stood throttle watches -

IC3 DAVID F. HARTFIELD - January 1, 1975 to September 20, 1978. -

EM2 JIM KAMINSKI - March 1957 to June 1958 - E Division, Plank owner at Baltimore -

SM3 DENNIS COPPERNOLL - May 1968 to March 1969 -

GMG3 BRUCE KUHN - 1987 to 1991 -

MMFA CHRIS BREIDINGER - April 1970 to August 1970 -

RM3 MICHAEL BOUCHER - April 1985 to December 1986 -

SN TERRY R. BYARD - October 1960 to September 1963 -

OS2 KEN KAPLAN - Sep 1972 to March 1975 -

RM1 THOMAS (PAPPY) COVINGTON - 1989 to 1993 -

RD3 KEN BELDEN - 1969 to 1971 -

BRIAN KLANDER a GM in 3rd Division from 1990 to 1992

SM2 DONALD BUD MANSMITH - 1965 to 1968 -

MMFN BOB POIRIER - 1957 - Original Plank Owner -

EM3 LARRY T. JONES - Jan 1960 to Aug 1961 -

E-4 ARTHUR E. "SKIP" ECKHART - 1973 to 1975 -

WILLIAM "ZEKE" KRAUSE - First Division - Nov 71 to Dec 72 -

SN MARK A SHAW - 1992 to 1993 -

QM2 DICK HALL - 1969 to 1971 -

BM1 RAY HENSON - 1966 to 1970 - 1st and 2nd Divisions -

SN DAVID RHODE - 1982 to 1986 -

YN3 ORVILLE BEHRENS - Engineering Office - June 1958 to December 1958 -

CHARLES LEEK - March 1957 to November 1958 - Plank Owner.

VINCENT T. MARSHALL SR - November 1972 to 1973 -

GMGSN PAUL WEITZ - Nov 1981 to 1984 -

HT2 MIKE FERRANTE - Feb 1989 to September 1992 -



I want to thank Don Howell for the following two photographs. They were taken when Mauna Kea was at the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet in February 2006.

This mural appeared on the crane support platform. I just found out that it was painted by BMSN James (Mingo) Dominguez, Jr, who served aboard the MAUNA KEA from 1989 to 1992. He painted several murals while he was aboard the ship.

Mauna Kea is second from the right.


Jenna Deleon was kind enough to provide me with these two photos from the 1970 Mauna Kea Cruise Book. Her father, Raymond Kligge, was an SN in Second Division and he is included in the lower right picture in the second photo (second sailor from the left) . Thanks Jenna!


From time to time I will be sharing portions of some of the e-mails I receive from Mauna Kea shipmates. They will only be posted with their permission.

This was part of an e-mail that came from Orville Behrens on January 7, 2011:

"My wife Elizabeth and I, have resided in Lincoln, NE since September, 1963. I e-mail a lot with a former high school classmate who lives in Loveland, CO. Within the past month, some how I got to talking with him about my experience in the military and mentioned serving on the Mauna Kea. He immediately sent me your Link and I about fell out of my chair. What an honor to see my old ship and read the things you have put together. I quickly printed the pages and couldn't wait to read all you had put together about her. I felt like I had gone to a funeral when I read she now rests at the bottom of the Pacific."


Here is an e-mail from James Dominguez, Jr. from March 17, 2014:

"My name is James (Mingo) Dominguez Jr. I served proudly on board the Mauna Kea from '89-'92. I was a deck ape up forward 1st Div. BMSN Dominguez, they used to call me Mingo, because they couldn't pronounce my name. Funnest years of my life so far. Learned a lot, saw a lot, and worked a lot. The picture you have of the painting of the ships emblem with the bent drain pipe, was done by me! Chief Jett asked me to do it. I was the un-offical ships artist. I did a few murals throughout the ship. Division emblems in their work spaces. Most on my own time, but that one got me out of some slushing wire rope, and some never ending chippin and dippin! I'll have to dig up the photos and copy and send them to you. A pleasant surprise to see that pic, sad to hear she is gone. She is still crewed by a good friend and even better shipmate BM1Corrning. He passed away on board not long after we came back from our '90- '91 Westpac. We were at Mare Island. I miss them both and have very fond memories of my time on board. Thank you for your site, your pics, and stories as well."


In June 2008, Mauna Kea shipmate Everett Jennings of Eagle Point, Oregon provided me with an original copy of the Mauna Kea Commissioning program. As can be seen, commissioning occurred on March 30, 1957. According to the program, Mauna Kea's first Captain was Kenneth Loveland. Thanks Everett for this great piece of Mauna Kea history!


This is the Christmas card I sent to my folks in December 1971.

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