The USS General William Mitchell (AP-114), a General John Pope-class transport, was launched by the Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Company of Kearny, New Jersey, on October 31, 1943. She was acquired by the U.S. Navy on January 15, 1944, and commissioned four days later. Her commanding officer was Captain Henry Coyle, USCG.
Service in World War II
The General William Mitchell transported troops to Liverpool and Casablanca out of New York and Norfolk, Virginia, from March 3 to August 20. She delivered troops ready for battle, bringing home casualties and those who were rotating out, making five trips. She called at Bombay, India, twice between the fall of 1944 and the spring of 1945, bringing rotation troops for operations at China, India and Burma.
During her first deployment from New York to Bombay, she traveled via the Panama Canal and Australia, arriving at Bombay on October 7. For the return trip, she transported troops rotating out to ports in Australia and the U.S., arriving at San Diego on November 17. On her second trip to India, she traveled from San Pedro by way of Tasmania to collect Allied troops and Italian prisoners of war from Bombay. On her return, she stopped at Melbourne, Australia, to deposit the POWs, and then sailed for San Pedro, arriving March 3, 1945.
The General William Mitchell began her next deployment from San Francisco, bringing troops to Espiritu Santo, Manus, Guadalcanal, and Leyte as the European war drew to a close. The situation in the Pacific began to escalate; as a result, the ship sailed to Naples and Livorno, Italy, to collect and transport the troops stationed there for redeployment in preparation for possible attacks on Japan, delivering them to the Philippines and Ulithi in mid 1945.
After the War
After hostilities ended, she sailed for San Francisco, bringing the troops home and arriving on December 6. The General William Mitchell was part of the Magic-Carpet fleet of transports, carrying troops to their home ports until late spring 1946. From April 1946 through 1949, she operated as a troop and supply shuttle in the Pacific. In March 1947, she underwent conversion for peacetime operations at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Transferred October 1949 to MSTS, she continued her travels to the Orient. She remained in service as a transport until December 1, 1966, when she returned to the Maritime Administration and was transferred to the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisan Bay, California. For service during the Korean War, General William Mitchell was awarded four battle stars. She was scrapped at Taiwan in 1988.
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.
- Naval Historical Center