Originally laid down as the SS Escanaba Victory by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation in 1944 under the Emergency Shipbuilding program, the USS Regulus was the second U.S. Navy ship to have this name. The ship was sponsored by Mrs. Aubrey D. Day and served as a cargo ship, transporting stores, refrigerated items, and equipment to other ships in the fleet, as well as to remote stations and staging areas, during World War II. It was acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1952 from the United States Maritime Administration. The ship was eventually grounded on a reef, as it became damaged beyond economic repair.
The USS Regulus was built with asbestos, as it was a very popular construction material during the last century because of the convenient properties it had, such as resistance to fire, electricity, and various chemicals. Nevertheless, asbestos is a known human carcinogen and exposure can result in terrible diseases, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and mesothelioma. Everyone present aboard the USS Regulus was exposed to asbestos to a certain extent. For this reason, up to 30% of veterans now struggle with awful diseases.