The USS General George M. Randall, a troop transport named for a Civil War general, was first laid down July 20, 1943, and launched January 30, 1944. She was commissioned on April 15 under the command of Captain Carl C. von Paulsen of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Service in World War II and Korea
On May 23, the General George M. Randall sailed from Norfolk to Bombay, India, with 5000 troops and casuals aboard. She returned from Bombay to San Pedro, California, carrying 2000 wounded troops. Over the next several months the General George M. Randall made two more trips between Bombay and San Pedro, delivering troops and returning wounded.
On June 8, 1945, the transport ship departed San Francisco for Norfolk. After a brief stop, she was deployed from Norfolk to France to embark troops headed to the engagement in the Pacific. She returned to the Pacific, disembarking troops on September 21 in Manila, even though the war had ended. In December of 1946, the ship was sent to Philadelphia for refit and stayed until early 1947. From here, she steamed to San Francisco, arriving April 25, from which she was deployed to the Far East six times.
When war erupted in Korea in 1950, the General George M. Randall was deployed to the area and took part in the Inchon Assault. She returned to the U.S. East Coast for a short period and was redeployed to Korea in early 1951. On March 11, the General George M. Randall had the unfortunate duty of returning some American casualties of the Korean War to American soil.
During peace time the USS General George M. Randall transported troops across the Pacific. She was sent to the East Coast in 1955, where she was given the duty of ferrying troops and supplies to Europe. She took a brief respite from these responsibilities in 1957 with a Caribbean cruise, but soon returned to the north Atlantic. Perhaps most notably, she carried Private Elvis Presley to his first deployment in Germany in 1958.
Before she was decommissioned on June 2, 1961, the General George M. Randall embarked troops and tanks for duty during the 1958 Lebanon Crisis. Her last voyage took her from Spain to New Jersey for decommissioning. She was struck from the Naval record on September 1, 1962, and later sold to Taiwan for scrap in 1975.
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.