The USS General J. C. Breckinridge was named after Lieutenant General James Carson Breckinridge from Tennessee, who served in the Spanish-American War, Philippines, China, and Central America.
Service in World War II and Korea
The ship was commissioned in June 1945 and went straight to Marseilles, France, to pick up 5,000 troops and move them to Manila. When the Japanese surrendered, she brought the soldiers to New York instead. She continued bringing home troops for the next 4 months, including the 2,000,000th American soldier to come home from Europe since VE Day.
In 1946, the General J. C. Breckinridge was sent to the Pacific to move troops and supplies from Saipan, Guam, Shanghai, Tsingtao, and China. She was then converted into a dependent transport for families of military men and sent back to the Pacific for the same duty, now including civilians aboard. She also conducted training exercises and carried convicted Japanese war criminals to Japan from Manila.
In October 1949, the General J. C. Breckinridge was transferred to the MSTS (Military Sea Transportation Service) and began moving military dependents to San Francisco. Here, her designation was changed to T-AP-176, but because of her Navy–rather than civilian–crew, she kept the USS designation.
When the Korean War began in June 1950, she was sent to Mare Island to be converted back to a troop transport. She then sailed up the coast to Seattle to pick up troops and take them to Yokosuka. The next stop was Pusan, Korea, to load casualties for Yokohama. On her way back to San Francisco, the General J. C. Breckinridge was called back to help with the landing at Inchon. In November she helped evacuate troops at Wonsan and then went back to Korea to help evacuate Hungnam in December. She continued with troop transport for the rest of the Korean War.
After the War
Following the Korean War, the USS General J. C. Breckinridge continued her work with MSTS, transporting military and civilian passengers to various Pacific locations such as Guam, Okinawa, Alaska, and Midway Island. She also transported troops for the Vietnam War in 1965, landing them in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trag, and Qui Nhon.
In December 1966, she was struck from the naval register and put in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, and then was sold to Japan for scrap in 1987. For her service in Korea and Vietnam, the General J. C. Breckinridge earned five 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 to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.