The AP-156, also known as the USS General D. E. Aultman, was named after General Dwight Edward Aultman of the United States Army. This was a transport ship of the Squier class and was a part of the United States Navy in World War II. She was later transferred to the Army, and then eventually into commercial service.
On February 18th 1945, the transport ship was launched in Richmond, California, by Kaiser Company Incorporated under Maritime Commission contract #713. The widow of Gen. Aultman, Mrs. Aultman sponsored the AP-156 and she was launched under command of Captain Swicegood of the United States Coast Guard. The transport ship was commissioned and acquired by the Navy on May 20, 1945.
Service in World War II and Korea
The General D.E. Aultman sailed for France on June 30, following shakedown out of San Diego. The transport ship moved towards the Panama Canal and on July 24 arrived at Marseilles, where she embarked Red Cross workers, nurses, and troop headed for the Pacific theater. On July 26, the ship journeyed through the Panama Canal and was one day out of Balboa headed towards New Guinea when on August 15, the Japanese surrendered.
On September 4th, the General D.E. Aultman arrived at Humboldt Bay, New Guinea, and transported troops to Manila prior to coming back to Portland on October 11. The transport ship was next assigned to the fleet called Magic Carpet helping with returning some hundreds of thousands veterans of the Pacific. She completed two trips that were classified as Magic Carpet to the Far East prior to her decommissioning on March 15, 1946, at San Francisco. The transport ship was then returned for transfer to the Army Transportation Service to the Maritime Commission.
On March 1, 1950, the transport ship was reacquired by the navy and staffed with a civil service. She joined up with the Military Sea Transportation Service to support American posts in the Pacific. In June 1950, following the start of the Korean War, the General D.E. Aultman began ferrying troops to the Pacific. The transport ship journeyed to the western Pacific until returning, on June 4, 1958, to the Maritime Commission.
The transport ship sailed to Suisun Bay to become a part of California’s National Defense Reserve Fleet, where she stayed until being sold to Containership Chartering Service in 1968 for commercial use. Her name was changed to the SS Portland, and she served in this capacity until 1986, when she was again sold, possibly for scrap.
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.