USS Virgo AKA-20 (1943-1973)
The USS Virgo spent the majority of her career in the Pacific Theater. An attack cargo ship, she was built in Kearney, New Jersey. The Virgo was an Andromeda class vessel. Her displacement was 13,910 tons. After her commission in July 1943, she was sent to the Western Pacific warfront.
Service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam
There she participated in numerous amphibious operations between 1943 and 1944. The maneuvers took place in Kwajalein, New Guinea, Saipan, Guam, and Peleliu. In 1944 she received orders to return to the American west coast. Once there, she was overhauled and then returned to the Pacific arena. The duties of the USS Virgo once she returned to the Pacific included aiding in the transport of cargo. She was a logistics support vessel. While at sea, the Virgo replenished other naval vessels. This second stint in the Pacific lasted until the end of the 1940’s.
The year 1950 brought the Virgo to the Atlantic sea. She remained there for a short tour of duty until the beginning of the Korean War. Loaded with passengers from California, she sailed to Korea by way of Sasebo, Japan, ultimately disembarking her troops at Inchon a day after the invasion. After a return to San Francisco, she once again brought passengers and ammunition to Sasebo. She continued making trips from the west coast to the war zone until hostilities ceased in 1953.
In the year 1953, the Korean Armistice relieved the Virgo of her combat duties. She was then returned to her logistics tasks. These duties went on for five more years. The Virgo was decommissioned in April 1958. She was soon after transferred to the custody of the Maritime Administration, but brought back to active duty and recommissioned when the hostilities commenced in Vietnam. In September of 1965 she was redesignated as the AE-30. The Virgo was now to operate as an ammunition vessel for the navy. The years between 1967 and 1970 saw the Virgo deployed to the western Pacific a total of four more times.
After the War
The Virgo’s official decommission took place in February of 1971, and her name was removed from the register at the same time. She remained drydocked for a spell. Finally she was sold for scrap to Taiwan in November of 1973. The USS Virgo was a highly decorated ship, earning seven battle stars during World War II, nine in Korea, and ten in Vietnam.
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.