USS Whiteside AKA-90 (1944-1958)
The Whiteside (AKA-90) was commissioned by the Navy on 11 September 1944, with Comdr. C. P. Woodson in command. During her career, she earned two battle stars for service in World War II and another four for service during the Korean conflict.
Service in World War II
The Whiteside set out with her first cargo from San Francisco to Hawaii, arriving in Oahu on 24 November. On 27 January 1945, she joined a convoy bound for Iwo Jima. She took part in D-Day landings, providing supplies and ammunition to Allied troops before delivering battle casualties to Guam.
Throughout the next several months, the Whiteside traveled to Okinawa, Saipan, Guam, the southern Solomon Islands, and New Guinea. She took part in the Tokyo Occupation Force, arriving at Yokohama, Japan on 2 September, the day the Japanese formally surrendered. She then transported supplies and troops between Japan, the Philippines, and French Indochina until early December when she returned to the United States.
In the summer of 1946, the Whiteside provided support services for nuclear testing conducted at Bikini Atoll. Later that year, she returned to the Far East, making several round trips between there and the United States over 1947, finally taking a seven-month duty along the U.S. west coast. Although she spent most of her time in California waters, she did tour as far north as Kodiak, Alaska. She then resumed tours of duty between Hawaii and the Far East into 1949. In early September, she entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for a three-month overhaul. Repairs were completed on 4 January 1950 when she set out for the Orient again.
Service in the Korean Conflict
When North Korea invaded the Republic of Korea on 25 June 1950, the Whiteside was at her home port. On 14 July, she carried elements of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade (Reinforced) for Japan. She carried troops and supplies to assault Inchon, remaining there during the drive on Seoul, and then returned to Japan. After sailing to the United States, she returned to Inchon on 10 December 1950 to assist in evacuating United Nations forces.
Duty tours between San Francisco and Japan occupied the rest of the Whiteside’s career. Her last round trip ended on 28 February 1957. She served on the West Coast of the U.S. until she was decommissioned at Astoria, Oregon on 30 January 1958. In the spring of 1971, she was sunk as a target.
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.