Originally launched as the Washington in May and operated as a passenger liner from New York to Plymouth, England, and Hamburg, Germany.
Renamed Mount Vernon on 5 June, the liner was acquired by the Navy 16 June, and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard the same day. Converted for naval use by Philadelphia Navy Yard, Mount Vernon trained along the east coast while mounting tension in the Far East drew the United States toward participation in World War II. In the fall, the new transport joined a convoy at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and sailed for Capetown, South Africa. As Mount Vernon steamed toward Cape Horn, word arrived that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor.
The transport reached Singapore on 13 January. Here she debarked British and Canadian troops, watched dogfights between Japanese and British planes over the city, and underwent an air attack before sailing 16 January for Aden, where she embarked Australian veterans of the Mediterranean theater for transportation to Ceylon and Fremantle. In Australia she embarked civilian and military escapees from the Philippines and naval survivors from ships sunk in the Macassar Straits battle. After calling in Adelaide and Wellington, New Zealand, Mount Vernon sailed for San Francisco, arriving 31 March.
1943 - 1945
For the next two years, Mount Vernon plied from San Francisco to ports in Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Hawaii, carrying the soldiers, marines, and sailors who would build the bases, then fight from them, bringing the ultimate victory over Japan. Her last such voyage began from San Francisco 21 February 1944. Steaming via Melbourne, she proceeded to Bombay, India, to debark Army men. She returned to Melbourne, and sailed for Boston by way of the Panama Canal, arriving 22 May. On 4 June, Mount Vernon began a series of voyages to British Isles ports and the Mediterranean, carrying men for the massive buildup on the European continent which would bring Germany to her knees. Her crossings continued after the war, as she carried occupation troops over and brought veterans home.
Returning from the last voyage 3 January, Mount Vernon decommissioned on 18 January and was delivered to the Maritime Commission, and again named Washington.
These specifications and ship histories are adapted from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (US Naval Historical Center) and from various other sources. These summaries may not reflect the most recent information concerning the ships' status or operations. If you find an error or discrepancy, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our online crossing submission form.