The USS General S. D. Sturgis was commissioned in April 1944, first as a ferry in Portland but then as a military transport, receiving her full commission in this capacity in July. She was a General G.O. Squier—class transport ship named for Army general Samuel Davis Sturgis.
Service in World War II
The ship took her shakedown training on the West Coast of the United States before transporting supplies and troops to Hawaii toward the end of August. The next month, she returned to San Francisco with hospital patients. She left the West Coast in November loaded with troops and much-needed supplies bound for the Southwest Pacific. She arrived in December and was assigned the duties of a station-receiving ship. She carried some of the 3rd Fleet’s command staff back to Pearl Harbor before making roundtrip troop voyages through the Pacific during the heat of many of the war’s most important campaigns.
After this, she was sent to Europe and arrived on July 9, 1945, in Marseilles, where she picked up troops bound for Manila. She sailed from that port 6 days later with officials from the Allied governments to reach Tokyo Bay. While here, the officers and officials she had transported witnessed the surrender of Japan. The ship then took three roundtrips to the West Coast and Japan to support the troops occupying Japan.
After the War
After an around-the-world voyage that took her through the Philippines, Singapore, and India, the General S.D. Sturgis sailed to New York, where she was decommissioned in 1946 to serve as a peacetime Army transport. For the next few years, she performed mostly humanitarian duties, including carrying refugees from Germany to the U.S.
However, she returned to the Navy in March 1950 to serve in the MSTS with a civilian crew. When war broke out in Korea, she transported UN troops to the fighting. In 1955 she sailed on three trips to support U.S. troops in Germany. In 1958 the Sturgis was put into the Maritime Administration and placed into the Naval Defense Reserve Fleet.
In 1967, she was sold to a New Orleans company that converted her into a cargo ship and renamed her the SS Green Port. She remained in commercial service until being scrapped in 1980. For her service in the Korean war, the General S.D. Sturgis was awarded three 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.