On June 2, 1941, the USS Markab, originally the cargo ship Mormacpenn, became a part of the Naval Fleet. She began her career by distributing supplies up to Greenland and down to the Caribbean, but this duty was interrupted when the U.S. entered World War II. At the time, the Markab was on her way to Puerto Rico. She was redeployed in mid transit and ordered to dock in Alabama, where she was renovated to a destroyer tender and officially designated as AD-21 on September 27, 1942. Commander Allen D. Brown was at the helm.
Service in World War II and U.S. Waters
On October 27, the Markab joined the Destroyer Fleet to serve in the Aleutians and prepare other vessels for invasions. By January of 1944, she was back in San Francisco to get ready for war duty in the Pacific. The ship became part of the Service Squadron 10 on February 26. As part of this squadron, she was assigned to overhaul and repair destroyers, which she did for nearly a year before sailing to the Philippines.
In June 1945, the Markab was a key player in making Task Force 38 ready for the final assaults on Japan. In January 1946, the Markab joined the 7th Fleet in Shanghai, China. By April 2, she was headed back for her home port. In January 1947, the Markab was decommissioned and made part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
By 1952, hostilities in Korea were making the region a hot zone. This prompted the Navy to remove the Markab from reserve status and recommission her on February 26. This time Captain Melvin H McCoy was at the helm, but the Markab was never deployed to foreign seas. On this tour of duty she remained along the American East Coast. Her primary duties were to service destroyers, and she was decommissioned once again on July 31, 1955.
The Navy removed the Markab from retirement once more on July 1, 1960, and brought her back to full commission with Captain E. M. Westbrook at the helm. She was assigned to service vessels on the American West Coast and in the Pacific. She carried out these duties faithfully until 1969.
On 19 December 1969 the USS Markab was once again decommissioned and taken out of service. She was struck from the Naval Register in 1976 and transferred to the Maritime Administration, who sold her the next year. Her fate after the sale is unknown.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some tenders and tugs 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.