The USS General M.C. Meigs, a General John Pope class troop carrier, was a 11,828 ton vessel built in Kearny, New Jersey, by the Maritime Commission to its P2-S2-R2 design. Custom-built in June 1944, she played a vital role during the Second World War transporting the Brazilian Expeditionary Force to Europe and making a number of journeys between the United States, North Africa, Italy and Brazil.
After the War
She joined the Magic Carpet fleet in October 1945 and throughout the next few months took combat veterans back to the United States from India, Japan and France. After docking in San Francisco in late January 1946, the General M. C. Meigs was removed from service the beginning of March and relocated to the War Shipping Administration.
The General M.C. Meigs and the USS General W. H. Gordon (AP-117) became the only two ships of their group to see postwar commercial service. Transported to a shipyard in San Francisco in April 1946 for a peacetime simple conversion, the General M.C. Meigs was licensed to American President Lines in June 1946. During June 1949 she was returned by American President Lines to the Maritime Commission reserve fleet.
Due to the emergence of the Korean War, the Navy’s new Military Sea Transportation Service acquired her in July 1950. She was immediately place in service with a resident crew under the new title USNS General M.C. Meigs (T-AP-116). She sailed into the Far East from San Francisco the end of August 1950. This was the first of numerous voyages between U.S. West coast and the Far East.
She was updated at Portland, Oregon between September 1953 and February 1954. However, the request for large troop carriers continued to weaken, and the General M.C. Meigs finished her last trans-Pacific journey in May 1955. She was transferred to Everett, Washington, in April 1956 after ten months of inactivity, and then placed in MSTS on standby. She was stricken in October 1958 from the Naval Register, moved to the Maritime Administration then moved to its Olympia, Washington, stockpile fleet.
Destruction at Cape Flattery
The USNS General M.C. Meigs left Bremerton, Washington, with the conclusion of the Olympia stockpile fleet in January 1972 with supplies and gear, as well as a small tug laden on board. She was headed for the stockpile fleet under tow by the MSTS rescue ship Gear (T-ARS-34) in Suisun Bay, California. After the ships come across a gale off Cape Flattery, Washington, the tug lines separated. The General M.C. Meigs blustered ashore immediately south of Portage Head and split in two around a gigantic rock pinnacle. Parts of her wreck could still be seen in 2006.
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.