General M. M. Patrick (AP-150)—named for Mason Mathew Patrick, an engineer who served in World War I—was launched June 21, 1944, by the Kaiser Co., Inc. at Richmond, California. The ship was commissioned September 4, 1944, with Captain George W. Stott in command.
Service in World War II and Korea
Immediately after her commissioning and into the early months of 1945, she transported thousands of troops from the west coast of the United States to Guam and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as well as to various locations in the Philippines. The General M. M. Patrick then shuttled troops from allied bases in northern New Guinea to Luzon, Philippines. As part of Operation Magic Carpet, the military effort to repatriate its troops and other personnel after World War II, she brought home returning veterans to San Francisco, arriving June 12.[L305]
She then departed again with a fresh load of 3,000 troops along with passengers bound for Fremantle, Australia, and then onward to Calcutta, India, to take on more passengers[L306] . From there, she made her way to New York via the Suez Canal, arriving September 3, 1945. She made another two trips to Calcutta and back to the United States, and was decommissioned from the Navy on March 8, 1946, and then placed under the Army Transportation Service as an Army Transport.
On March 1, 1950, the navy reacquired the General M. M. Patrick to oversee [L307] transport duty, this time staffing her with a civilian crew and replacing her USS designation with USNS. She operated between the Far East and Seattle during the Korean War and transported tens of thousands of troops. After this conflict ended, she resumed her duties, bringing veterans back home. In November 1952, she carried a load of Japanese artwork from Yokohama to Seattle for an exhibition in the United States. This remains the only international art exhibition ever supported by the Department of Defense.
The USNS General M. M. Patrick was transferred to the Maritime Administration October 17, 1958, and she resided there for a time under the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Olympia, Washington. She was sold into commercial service in 1967 or 1968 for use as a container ship. Her fate today is uncertain, though she may be awaiting scrapping in Texas. The ship received two battle stars for Korean conflict service.
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.