The USNS Lt. George W.G. Boyce (T-AK-251) was named after Army 2nd Lt. George W.G. Boyce who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroic action at New Guinea during World War II. The ship was a 16,000 ton Boulder Victory class cargo vessel.
Service in the Far East and Mediterranean Sea
Originally named the Waterville Victory and operated by Perry Navigation, the ship was put into service on October 15, 1945. Transferred to the Army Transportation Service (ATS) nine months later, she was renamed the Lt. George W.G. Boyce. In February 1950 the vessel was inactivated, only to be reactivated in August following the eruption of the Korean War. Her first duty took her to Asian waters carrying military cargo.
For the duration of the conflict she sailed the supply lines between the U.S. and various Far Eastern ports. In 1954 she was sent to the Atlantic for MSTS duty. During the ensuing six years the ship had a busy schedule conducting supply runs to Europe and the Middle East, including voyages to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. After the Lebanon Crisis in the summer of 1958, she operated in the Mediterranean.
In early 1960 she got underway from New York on a deployment that would take her around the world. During the six-month cruise she transited the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and visited South Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Formosa and the Philippines. She arrived back on the East Coast on June 29 and then completed another round-trip voyage to the Far East. The ship made another round-the-world deployment from April to August 1961.
Primarily cruising to European and Mediterranean ports for the next two years, she also made runs to the Caribbean and the West Coast. In the fall of 1963 she sailed to the Far East, returning in February 1964. She sailed again to Asia in December of that year. As the conflict in Vietnam escalated, the veteran cargo ship continued to make supply runs to the Far East, Europe and the Middle East.
The USNS Lt. George W.G. Boyce was put out of service and struck from the Navy list on July 15, 1973. Placed in reserve, she was sold for scrapping in October 1974. She was awarded four battle stars for service in Korea.
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.