The SS John M. Harlan was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II, named after John Marshal Harlan, an American lawyer, and politician who served as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. The ship is a type of mass-produced cargo ship built to meet inexpensively the United States' World War II maritime transport needs. The SS John M. Harlan was laid down on 5 May 1943, under a Maritime Commission contract, by J.A. Jones Construction, Brunswick, Georgia and launched on 29 August 1943.
On 3 March 1948, the ship was laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet in Mobile, Alabama. On 25 February 1966, she was sold for $151,079.79 to Southern Scrap Material for scrapping. Many Navy veterans developed service-related conditions as a result of asbestos exposure during their military service. Anyone who worked on or around the SS John M. Harlan should monitor their health carefully, and consult a doctor if they experience symptoms of shortness of breath, persistent dry cough, and chest tightness or pain.