The USS Pictor (AF-54) was made to serve as an Alstede-class stores ship that was acquired by the U.S. Navy. Her main duties were to carry refrigerated items, stores, and needed equipment to the many ships in her fleet and to remote stations and staging areas. A maritime commission laid down the USS Pictor as the S.S. Republic [L309] (MC-187) on March 18, 1942, by the Moore Shipbuilding Co. located in Oakland, California. She was launched on June 4, 1942, after being sponsored by Mrs. William Craig, Jr. Before her launch, she was reclassified as C2-S-B1(R) on June 29, 1943.
Apart from her service for the U.S. Navy, the USS Pictor served as a commercial freighter from June 29, 1943, until April 1950. During this time she was known as the SS[L310] Great Republic and worked for various private companies, shipping goods to ships and troops all throughout the Pacific. She worked for the United Fruit Co. and the Pacific Far East Lines out of the San Francisco, California, area. By April 1950 she was returned to an inactive status in California at the Suisun Bay.
Service in the Korean War
In September 1950, the U.S. Navy acquired the Pictor and converted her into a store ship. The Pictor was commissioned on September 13, 1950, and reported for duty with the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
While on tours in the Far East, the Pictor supplied food and dry stores to troops in Korea and Taiwan. After service in the Korean War she continued working by providing the U.S. 1st Fleet and 7th Fleet with needed supplies off the U.S. West Coast and in the Pacific Ocean. Her re-supply duties continued throughout Vietnam for the 7th Fleet.
The Pictor was decommissioned in December 1969 and was scrapped in June 1976. Throughout the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Pictor received a total of one battle star and eight campaign 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.