The SS John Hay was a Liberty Ship built in Panama City, Florida, during World War II and named after John Hay, private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln, and U.S. secretary of state between1898–1905. The ship is part of the 2,710 Liberty ships built between 1941 and 1945, easily the largest number of ships ever produced to a single design. The SS John Hay was laid down on 5 January 1943, under a Maritime Commission contract, by J.A. Jones Construction, Panama City, Florida, an emergency yard built with 6 ways in the fifth wave of shipbuilding expansion with $13mm invested by the United States Marine Corps. On 16 May 1955, the SS John Hay was withdrawn from the fleet to be loaded with grain under the "Grain Program 1955", she transferred, loaded with grain, to the National Defense Reserve Fleet, in Olympia, Washington, on 29 June 1955. The ship was withdrawn from the fleet on 23 June 1957, to have the grain unloaded, she returned empty on 28 June 1957. On 15 December 1960, the SS John Hay was towed away to be sold for scrap to Commercial Metals Co. for $54,031.33. Like all other ships built before the 1970s, the SS John Hay America was constructed using a number of asbestos-containing materials. The SS John Hay crewmembers were likely to breathe in large amounts of asbestos fibers when they were sleeping, eating, and serving their country in battle. Those that worked in shipyards were also at serious risk for asbestos exposure, as they handled the materials that were built, repaired, or removed from naval vessels as part of their job. Unfortunately, it is now known that asbestos exposure can cause serious illnesses that often do not appear until many years after the exposure.
96 years old