The USNS Sgt. Jack J. Pendleton was built in Portland, Oregon on April 15 of 1944 by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation. It was originally built as a Maritime ship named the Mandan Victory, too which it was delivered on June 19 of 1944.
As the Mandan Victory it was operated on a general contract by the Isthmian SS Company throughout the remainder of World War II and following, from which it became owned by the Waterman SS Corporation and by A. L. Burbank and Company. In December of 1947 it became laid up in the National Defensive Reserve Fleet in Wilmington, Delaware, and then was transferred to the Army on April 23 of 1948.
The ship was modified and became a transport ship with the name of the Sgt. Jack J. Pendleton. The transport ship operated for 18 months and then was once again transferred, this time to the Navy for the Military Sea Transportation Service on March 1 of 1950, where it was designated as a cargo ship and aircraft ferry. The name was once again changed, this time to the USNS Sgt. Jack J. Pendleton (T-AKV-5).
Service in the Korean War
When the Korean War broke out the transport ship was employed to move combat cargoes into the west, beginning in June. The ship was taken from military transport to the west in the summer of 1952 and was relocated to make runs to the Marshals Marianas. In March of 1953 the transport ship once again shifted directions to sail into the Far East, which is where it remained until the end of the Korean War.
Between 1954 and 1956, the Jack J. Pendleton sailed to Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Thailand, the Philippines, and even into the Central Pacific. Arctic operations were performed in the summer of 1956, and in 1958 the ship received a commendation for rescuing the crew of a Japanese fishing vessel that had sunk.
In May of 1956, the transport ship was once again renamed, this time to AK-276. It carried supplies to bases in Greenland in July and August and then to Europe in September. October and November found the transport ship in Taiwan, and Japan in December.
In 1960, the ship brought back the Trieste, which had set a new record dive, and then later in the year when Vietnam erupted, began transporting supplies to South Vietnam near the Subic Bay area.
Destruction in the Paracel Islands
The Sgt. Jack J. Pendleton was then home ported in Oakland, California, from where it has been used for operations conducted by the Military Sealift Command. In 1973, while steaming through the South China Sea, the ship hit a reef near Triton Island and began to sink. Attempts to rescue her were unsuccessful, and she soon had to be abandoned.
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.