The SS Sea Marlin was launched on the 27th of September 1943 from the Pascagoula, Mississippi shipyards, but she won’t see service until January 31, 1944, after a reconversion into a 2,111 souls capacity troop transport. She was placed under the command of Captain George Ekstrom of Grace Lines shipping, who will be her operator throughout World War II. The Sea Merlin will be very active during the war, moving troops and supplies between some dozen ports and earning a battle star after her crew participated in downing a number of Japanese kamikaze off the coast of Okinawa. Her subsequent career as a commercial cargo – in which she was converted by the Isthmian Steamshipping Co. – would be no less eventful, the ship suffering a long string of accidents of any conceivable nature, from weather damage to collisions.
To make things worse, the heavy use of asbestos in her construction placed repair crews at great risk of inhaling the dangerous substance, especially as adequate protective measures were usually lacking during the period she was active. No less she was a danger to her crews, as naval vessels can rarely be returned to peak condition after suffering damage.