The USS Haven was built in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1944 as a hospital ship. The ship weighed in at 11,141 tons. The US Navy acquired her in June, and she went into conversion and was commissioned in May of 1945. In July she entered Pearl Harbor to run patients back to San Francisco. The ship had arrived in Pearl Harbor just before the Japanese surrendered during August 1945.
Service in the Pacific
She then sailed onto Nagasaki, Japan, and in September boarded a group of Allied ex-prisoners of war which included several suffering effects of the atomic bomb. The Haven continued transporting patients during 1945 from several Pacific locations and took them to San Francisco. She helped support testing of the Atomic bomb during most of 1946 in Bikini Atoll. She took a temporary designation of APH-112 while taking wounded personnel for transport. She became a regular AH hospital ship again at the end of the year. She began inactivation in February 1947 and was decommissioned in San Diego in July.
The USS Benevolence, the Havens’ sister ship, sank after a collision in August. The Navy had no hospital ships to spare, and so recommissioned the Haven in September of 1950. Ten days after being recommissioned she headed to Inchon, Korea. She stayed there until Chinese Communist forces forced her to move to the south in January 1951. She supported the US forces in Korea for three years. When Korea called a truce, she left for French Indochina in September 1954 to help with the withdrawal of French troops. She then took the French personnel and dropped them off at Oran and Marseille before they went back to Long Beach, California in November 1954.
During 1955 and 1956 the Haven gave support to the Pacific Fleet in California. In Long Beach, June 1957, the Haven was decommissioned. She stayed there used as a stationary floating hospital. She was taken off of the Navy List in March 1967. She was sent to the Maritime Administration reserve fleet in June 1967.
At that time C4 Cargo ships like her were in high demand for commercial work because they were huge in size. In 1968 she was sold by the Maritime Administration. They added 145 feet to her, converted her into a chemical carrier, and renamed her the Clendenin. She was later renamed the Alaskan. She worked for Union Carbide Corporation until she was scrapped in 1987.
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.