The SS Philippines Victory was the fifth ship of the Victory-class ever built. Her construction was completed on May 9, 1944, by the California Shipbuilding Company. During World War II, she served in the Pacific as a cargo vessel, carrying supplies to Hawaii, Australia, and New Guinea. She was laid up for a short time after the war at Suisan bay in California until sold to a civilian operator in 1947. After being renamed SS Mahenge, she was used as a cargo ship until 1952, the year that saw her sink in the English Chanel. Her 46 crew members and three passengers were reported to have been rescued but that doesn’t mean the ship didn’t register any victims during the 18 years it was afloat. In 2007, divers found her at the bottom of the sea with the derrick cranes still intact and the stands upright.
Many compartments of the SS Philippines Victory were lined with asbestos. This carcinogenic mineral might have been inhaled by the members of her crew. Sailors operating in the damage control room, the boiler room, and the engine and propulsion rooms were, particularly, at risk. Asbestos exposure could cause respiratory conditions such as lung cancer and mesothelioma as its fibers affect the lungs' lining irreparably.