The USNS Sgt. Curtis F. Shoup T-AG-175 was constructed by Kaiser Cargo Incorporated in Richmond, California and laid down on April 16th, 1945, originally as Spindle Eye, under a Maritime commission contract. This Alamosa-class cargo ship was sponsored by Mrs. Edgar Buttner, and was launched on May 25th, 1945. She was then, on July 9th, 1945, sent to the Lykes Brothers Steamship Co. Her namesake was war hero Sgt. Curtis F. Shoup.
She did not see much duty during World War II, but she was supposed to transport war correspondents. Because of this, until the Vietnam War, she mostly spent time in the Maritime Administration’s National Defense Reserve Fleet.
Service in the Vietnam War
When the Vietnam War began, the Sgt. Curtis Shoup was placed in the Military Sea Transport Service (MSTS) on January 16th, 1963. On March 1st of that year, the Navy put her on their lists. The Navy needed her for other purposes, so they had the Willamette Iron & Steel Works convert her to a helicopter freighter. After this she was placed back in the MSTS and assigned to the Pacific Area.
With the USS Harris County LST-822, on June 14th, the Sgt. Curtis F. Shoup reported to the southwest Pacific. Their duties there were to help the United States space and missile projects by checking out various survey sites. As a helicopter freighter, she carried helicopters and 4 to 6 oceanographers from the Naval Oceanographic Office in Washington, D.C. to help survey the area. This resulted in many changed maps and charts that were first created during World War II. Her next and final duty, in May of 1968, was to help with more oceanographic operations off the coast of Egypt.
On December 20th, 1969, the USS Sgt. Curtis F. Shoup was taken out of service, and all her oceanographic instruments were removed. She was sent to Suisan Bay, California on January 22nd, 1970 and assigned to the National Defense Reserve Fleet of the Maritime Administration. Finally, the Navy struck her from their lists on April 28th, 1970. Mr. John Liu, from Washington, D.C. bought her from the Navy on May 9th, 1973.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some auxiliary vessels also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.