The SS Richard A. Van Pelt was laid down relatively late for a ship of its class, on the 9th of January 1945, under a United States Maritime Commission contract executed by J.A. Jones Construction of Brunswick, Georgia. The ship was ready for launch in less than 40 days, on February 17, and her construction was sponsored by Mrs. Duncan Morton. She didn’t spend long in US service, however, as she was transferred to Belgium upon her arrival in Europe and re-baptized Belgium Equity. The Belgians were to only complete the purchase after the war, for the sum of $579,770.03 and keep it in service until 1969 when she was scrapped. Asbestos was heavily utilized in its construction as an insulator and could be found in virtually all areas of the ship. Since the speed of production was heavily prioritized over build quality for Liberty ships, members of her crew faced a particularly high risk of exposure, especially those working in the engine and propulsion rooms, damage control room, and pump room.
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