The USS Magoffin, a Haskell-class attack transport ship, was named for a county in eastern Kentucky. She was built in 1944 by Kaiser Shipbuilding Co. in Vancouver, Washington, and commissioned October 25.
Service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam
She was assigned to Transport Division 54 and began moving troops and supplies in the South Pacific until March 1945 when she was sent to Guadalcanal to prepare for the invasion of the Ryukyus Islands in Japan. The Magoffin was the first ship to unload at Okinawa where she helped shoot down two Japanese planes. She continued transporting troops for the next year, and then sailed to San Francisco in March 1946 where she was decommissioned on August 14.
After war began in Korea, the ship was recommissioned in October 1950 and assigned to the Pacific Fleet. She spent most of 1951 transporting troops and supplies between Korea and Japan. In July 1952, the Magoffin returned to Japan and began several amphibious training exercises with Army and Marine troops, one of which was held at Kojo, North Korea, in an attempt to get Communist units to come out in the open. For the next two years, the ship spent most of her time on the west coast of the United States participating in exercises and other operations.
The Magoffin set out in February 1954 to participate in amphibious exercises at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Pusan. She was then sent to Indochina for Passage to Freedom duty, transporting over 6000 refugees from Haiphong to the new Republic of South Vietnam during August and September. She returned to San Diego in November.
For most of the next twelve years, the Magoffin spent time in the western Pacific Ocean participating in various exercises and transport duties as well as sometimes serving as a station ship. In 1958, she took part in Operation Hardtack, a series of nuclear tests at Eniwetok Atoll. She then set off in July for the Persian Gulf with troops from Okinawa to help American and British troops who had been sent to Jordan and Lebanon. The crisis was averted and the Magoffin went back to the Pacific. On 6 August 1964, Magoffin was sent to Okinawa where she picked up troops headed to Vietnam, just two days after the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
The ship was sent back to San Diego in December 1967 and decommissioned in April 1968. For her service in the Navy, the Magoffin received one battle star for World War II, two for Korea, and four campaign stars for Vietnam. Her name was removed from the Naval record on February 1, 1980, and her fate since then is unknown.
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.