Originally laid down under the name of SS Arcadia Victory in 1944, the USNS Asterion was rebuilt in 1961 as a refrigerated store ship and subsequently renamed. The purpose of the ship was to carry stores, refrigerated items, and equipment to other vessels in the fleet, as well as to remote stations and staging areas. It served during both World War II and Korean War as a cargo ship. In 1973, the USNS Asterion was sold for scrap.
By virtue of the numerous convenient properties it has, asbestos was heavily employed by the U.S. Navy before 1980, which means that the toxic mineral was also present on the USNS Asterion, mostly in the form of insulation. Consequently, the people who served aboard the ship were exposed to asbestos to a great extent, which increases their chances of developing a terrible disease today, as diseases that stem from asbestos exposure take between 20 and 50 years to occur. Unfortunately, although the Navy issued a policy against using asbestos in ships in 1975, many veterans had already been exposed to the cancer-causing material by that point.