The home of George Washington on the Potomac River near Alexandria, Va.
(AP‑22: dp. 34,600; l. 705'; b. 36'; dr. 31'6"; 9. 20 k.; cpl. 765; trp. 6,031; a. 4 5", 4 3")
SS Washington was launched in May 1933 by New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J., and operated as a passenger liner from New York to Plymouth, England, and Hamburg, Germany. Renamed Mount Vernon 5 June 1941, the liner was acquired by the Navy 16 June 1941, and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard the same day, Capt. Donald B. Beary in command.
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 13 January 1942. 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, including Mrs. F. E. Sayre, wife of the U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines and daughter of President Woodrow Wilson, 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.
For the next 2 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 1944 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 1946, Mount Vernon decommissioned 18 January 1946, was delivered to the Maritime Commission, and again named Washington.