The Watertown begun life rather early for a Victory ship, being laid down on 12th February 1944 as Niantic Victory by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corp. Beginning in May 1944, she made cargo runs to the Pacific theater of operations with a American-Hawaiian Steamship Line crew. After the war, she was one of the ships to take part in the Marshall Plan relief efforts between November 1946 and May 1948. Re-instated for the Korean War, she was to make trips between Korea and the US until the end of the conflict in 1955. Changing a number of operators in the subsequent three years she was to be birthed in 1958, but brought back into service with the Navy only two years after. Equipped with advanced electronics she will act in support of NASA and the USAF for the following 11 years as a missile tracking ship. This is when she acquired the name Watertown. Sold to Dongkuk Steel Mill Co. in May 1974, she was to end her life in Korea only some two months after.
Asbestos was used in all areas of the ship for heat and water shielding, but the greatest risk of exposure was experienced by sailors working the engine rooms, damage control room, pump room and propulsion room.