The USNS Lt. Robert Craig (T-AK-252), a Boulder Victory-class cargo ship, was commissioned under a Maritime contract by California Shipbuilding Corporation June 21, 1945 as the Bowling Green Victory and launched to sea on August 28, 1945 with Mrs. C. M. Holladay as the sponsor. The Bowling Green Victory was delivered to the ship’s operator, J. H. Winchester on September 27 1945, operating under the War Shipping Administration serving peacetime duties until July 1946. The Army Transportation Service took over service and renamed the ship as the Lt. Robert Craig; the Navy acquired the Lt. Robert Craig and assigned the ship to duty under MSTS on August 9, 1950.
Service in the Korean Conflict
The Lt. Robert Craig left New York harbor, sailed to the west coast, and began supply missions out of San Francisco harbor with a civilian crew. The next four years, the Lt. Robert Craig supplied the American bases in the western and central Pacific; to include the Marshall Islands, Marinas, Philippines, South Korea and Japan. The Lt. Robert Craig provided logistic support for U.S. nuclear testing program in the Marshall Island during 1953. In March of 1954, again in May 1954, Lt. Robert Craig voyaged to French Indochina with supplies for French troops fighting in Vietnam.
The Lt. Robert Craig was responsible for supply runs to Europe from New York. The supply ship resumed its transatlantic supply route on December 21, 1961. During the transatlantic supply runs, the Lt. Robert Craig visited 17 European, Middle Eastern, and Asian nations. The supply runs ranged from Denmark to South Vietnam, including U.S. bases in the Philippines, Okinawa, and Marianas.
Service in the Vietnam War
During increases in military operations in support for the American forces in South Vietnam, the Lt Robert Craig provided logistical support to the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia. In 1968, the Lt. Robert Craig continued its worldwide supply missions and maintained a vital role in America’s peacekeeping operations.
The Lt. Robert Craig served in the naval fleet as a transatlantic supply ship until June 15, 1973, when the ship was placed out of service and removed from the Navy’s records. The Lt. Robert Craig was sold on December 26, 1973 for use in non Maritime work and the ship’s whereabouts remain unknown.
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.