The USS Crater (AK-70) was the lead ship of the class of converted liberty ships in the service of the US Navy in World War II. The ship was laid down on 28 August 1942 as liberty ship SS John James Audubon by Permanente Metals Corporation, in Richmond, California and transferred to the Navy the same year. The USS Crater was commissioned on 31 October 1942 under Lieutenant Commander Russel Dodd’s command. The ship’s mission throughout the war was to deliver cargo to locations such as Efate, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, New Zealand, Guadalcanal, and the Philippines. Its last trip was to Pearl Harbor where it was decommissioned and transferred to MARCOM on 25 June 1946. Similar to many of its kind, the ship was sold for scrapping in August 1974.
More than 300 asbestos-containing materials were used in the manufacturing of the USS Crater. Before the dangers of asbestos exposure became widely known the US Navy used it in almost every part of each ship. This put veterans at high risk of developing asbestos-related affections such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma, fact that makes them eligible for free health care, disability compensation and other VA benefits.