Launched on June 23rd, 1945 the SS Meredith Victory gained great acclaim thanks to her crew’s action during the Korean War. Under the command of Captain Leonard LaRue the Meredith Victory took part in the largest humanitarian operation undertaken by a single ship, evacuating over 14,000 refugees from Hungnam, away from the advancing Chinese and North Korean forces. This was to earn it a Gallant Ship Award, a Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and a Meritorious Service Medal. The achievement seems all the more exceptional when you considered that Victory ships were only designed to carry 12 passengers and 47 crew. According to reports, the civilians were “packed like sardines” for the 500 mile journey which took them first to Busan and then to Geoje Island under the freezing December weather. The ship was mothballed after the war, only to be recommisioned again in 1966 and converted into a troop transport for Vietnam. With the Vietnam War over, she will be laid up in Suisun Bay to await scrapping some 20 years after.
Despite her heroic history, the Meredith did harbor a hidden danger, namely the carcinogenic asbestos that could be found in all areas of the ship.