The USS Hennepin, an Alamosa-class cargo ship, was commissioned in July of 1945 and was built in the Walter Butler Shipbuilders company. She had her shakedown training in the Gulf of Mexico, and then headed out to be loaded with cargo at Gulfport, Mississippi. She then sailed to the Marshall Islands and arrived in Cebu in September of 1945. She was assigned to service squadron 8 where she operated in the Philippines until November.
Service in the Pacific
She then steamed to Australia and to take on cargo at various ports before arriving in Korea laden with the supplies that the occupying troops needed. She arrived at Okinawa in January of 1946 before heading towards Japan on the 25th of the month. She was decommissioned in February of that year and moved into service with the Army.
The Hennepin then operated with the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces, until July of 1950 when she returned to the Navy. She was refitted in Japan and assigned to the Military Sea Transport Service, where she received the designation of USNS Hennepin T-AK-187. As the Korean War escalated, the cargo ship took on a civilian crew and brought supplies to American posts in the country for the duration of the conflict.
After the War
With the truce in Korea, the Hennepin returned to her normal supply run. However, she was moved to support Operation Passage to Freedom in North Vietnam, where she brought cargo from Haiphong to St. Jacques and Saigon. From 1955 until 1958 the Hennepin remained in the Far East, mainly operating between Japan and South Korea again.
In 1957, she took a detour to the Persian Gulf, sailing to Pakistan and Bahrain Island. After that, she was assigned to take supplies from Yokohama, Japan, to Saigon. After coming back to Yokohama in June of 1958, she was taken out of service and transferred to the Maritime Administration the next year. For her service in Korea, the USS Hennepin earned one battle star.
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.