The USNS Private Francis X. McGraw started life as a Victory class transport named SS Wabash Victory on the 6th of September 1945. After a stint in the Pacific which saw her delivering supplies to Eniwetok, Ulithi, and Okinawa she transits the Panama Canal for France, arriving at Le Havre in late March 1946. She is transferred to the US War Department in June but her mission remains the same; carrying supplies and troops between the US east coast and Europe for the occupation and reconstruction efforts. The newly-formed Military Sea Transportation Service will take her over in spring 1950 and mainly use her for cargo duty to “far flung” ports in the Caribbean, North Sea and the Mediterranean. She will deliver chemical weapons to Okinawa in 1965, and remove them some six year later during Operation Red Hat.
Those weapons of mass destruction weren’t the only toxic things she had on board, as carcinogenic asbestos was used heavily in her construction. The dangerous mineral could be found in all areas of the ship but maintenance crews who regularly handled it while working in the engine room, boiler room, pump room and when replacing piping were particularly at risk.