Stuff You Should Know
USS George Eastman (YAG-39) was a Liberty ship built under a MARCOM contract in March 1943 by Permanente Metals Corporation, in Richmond, California and delivered from the War Shipping Administration to Pacific Atlantic Steamship Co., Vancouver, Washington. During the war, this ship operated as a merchant cargo carrier and having survived the war, it was placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet in June 1948. Taken out of the reserve, the vessel operated as a merchantman for just a couple of months and then transferred to the US Navy by the Maritime Administration. Under the US Navy service, USS George Eastman was converted and used to gather fallout data in nuclear explosion tests in the Pacific and carried out various experimental tests in the fields of ship protection and scientific warfare analysis.
This ship was part of the Project SHAD, a US Navy Top Secret biological and chemical warfare testing program, with the aim to identify US warships’ vulnerabilities to chemical or biological attacks and to develop a response to such attacks. The project was closed down by President Nixon in 1972. The ship was exposed to several chemical and biological weapons such as Sarin and VX nerve gas as well as anthrax and a number of other diseases, tracers, and mosquitoes.
USS George Eastman was decommissioned sometime before 1977 (date unknown) when it was scrapped.