The USS General C. G. Morton (AP-138), a Squier-class transport, built by Kaiser Company, Richmond, California, launched on March 15, 1944. She was commissioned on July 7, her commanding officer Comdr. S. K. Hall.
Completing her shakedown off San Pedro, California, she deployed for Guadalcanal on August 1 as a troop transport. With troops aboard, she got underway three days after arrival, reaching San Francisco on September 3. She headed south to San Diego, and then departed for the Solomons, reaching Russell Island where she loaded troops. She made her way to neighboring islands throughout the Solomons, and then sailed for San Francisco.
Service in the Pacific
Heading south once again, the General C.G. Morton sailed to San Diego, and then departed port on November 10, sailing as part of a convoy to Pearl Harbor. From there she was deployed to Guadalcanal. She departed for San Francisco on December 3, traveling off New Guinea, Noumea and Manus Island.
At Long Beach, she received passengers and sailed to Calcutta, India, on January 11, 1945, with a stop at Melbourne. On her return journey, she again called at Melbourne, and then traveled along the Caroline and Mariana Islands, completing her journey April 25. Departing after a brief ten days, bound for the Southwest Pacific and Manila, she called on ports in New Guinea, Hollandia and Leyte on the way, arriving back to the United States on July 5 at San Francisco. Soon she was dispatched to the east coast, passing through the Panama Canal on July 17 and arriving at Boston six days later.
After going in for servicing at Boston, she sailed for Marseille, France, on August 12, though she was soon recalled to Newport News, Virginia. Her next deployment sent her east, bound for Karachi, India, by way of the Suez Canal; she returned by the same route, her destination New York. She was again deployed to Karachi in January 1946, but with added ports of call in Manila and Singapore. She arrived back at San Francisco in March 1946.
The USS General C. G. Morton was returned in May 1946 to the War Department for Army use. In March 1950 she was reactivated on the Navy Register, assigned to MSTS Reserve. In the following years, she assisted with three Korean and Chinese campaigns. On May 29, 1958 she was once again struck from the Navy Register, but sold into commercial service in 1967. She was not scrapped until 1980. For service in the Korean War, the General C. G. Morton was awarded three battle stars.
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.