The USS Laurens was a Haskell-class attack transport ship built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation in 1944 under a Maritime Commission contract to serve during World War II. It was sponsored by Mrs. James C. Black and acquired by the U.S. Navy the same year it was laid down. During World War II, the ship had Captain A. R. Ponto in command. Following shakedown along the California Coast, the USS Laurens went to Lae, New Guinea and for the next months, it operated out of New Guinea and New Caledonia. Since asbestos was a highly prevalent building material within the U.S. Navy, there were over 300 hazardous products on the ship, which unknowingly endangered the health of everyone who was present aboard it. Exposure to asbestos can lead to awful diseases, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, and occurs when a person breathes in or swallows asbestos fibers from the air. For this reason, veterans who served on the US Laurens need to undergo regular medical examination, as the asbestos fibers in their body may give way to the development of a serious disease over the years. In 1988, the ship was eventually scrapped.