The USNS Fred C. Ainsworth was a United States Navy ship that was converted for military action in order to aid in the war efforts of World War II. It originally began its career as a basic transport ship and sailed under the name of S.S. Pass Christian. It was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi in June 1943. The transport ship mainly operated in the Pacific Ocean, except for one brief troop transport operation to Europe in the mid 1945s.
At the end of World War II, troop transports where no longer needed so the Fred C. Ainsworth was once again transferred to another department and was officially named the USNS Fred C. Ainsworth (T-AP-181). On March 1 of 1950 the transport ship became a water transport vessel for the Army, sailing for the Military Sea Transport Service.
Action in the Korean War
During the Korean War, the Fred C. Ainsworth was nominated to once again transport troops and supplies on a couple of missions, including the Inchon landings. During this short period of time the water transports where discontinued, but the ship was never listed as active troop transport vessel.
The Fred C. Ainsworth was placed out of service on November 2 of 1959 and was transferred into Maritime Administration, from which it was laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet pending military decision upon its future. When this occurred the ship’s name was once again changed to allow for the out of service status. The new name of MARAD was adopted on November 1 of 1960 and the ship was stricken from the Naval registry on July 1 of 1961.
On March 1 of 1973, the MARAD was sold for scrap iron, but due to some problems in the process, mostly the default of the buyer to pay, the demolition of the ship had to be cancelled. Instead, the transport ship was sold for private use to Inter-Ocean Grain Storage Ltd for business use. The transferring of this transport ship from military service to private uses finished on June 26 of 1973, and it was permanently removed from the Navy registry.
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.