Counties in Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
On 23 August 1942, the name Adair was assigned to APR-1, which was to be the first of a class of 11 projected rescue transports whose construction had been approved by the Chief of Naval Operations on 19 January 1942. These vessels were intended to accompany transatlantic convoys to rescue survivors of any ships which were sunk by U-boats during the crossing. However, the pace of early wartime warship construction so overloaded the Nation's shipbuilding capabilities that the class was canceled on 12 March 1943 before contracts for construction of any of these ships could be let.
(APA-91: displacement 13,143 (limiting); length 473'1"; beam 66'0"; draft 25'0" (limiting); armament 18.6 knots (trial); complement 555; troops 1,514; armament 2 5-inch, 4 40 millimeter, 18 20 millimeter; class Windsor; type C2-S-A3)
Adair (APA-91) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (M.C. Hull 594) as Exchester on 28 July 1943 at Sparrows Point, Md., by the Bethlehem-Sparrows Point Shipyard, Inc.; launched on 29 February 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Elsie N. Reefer; acquired by the Navy on 15 July 1944; and commissioned that same day, Capt. Samuel P. Comly, Jr., in command.
A little more than a month later, after shakedown training in Chesapeake Bay and logistics at Norfolk, the attack transport departed that port on 21 August, bound ultimately for the central and western Pacific. She transited the Panama Canal on 27 August and, after stops at the California ports of San Diego and San Pedro, continued west to Pearl Harbor where she arrived in mid-September. There, she embarked the 13th and 135th Naval Construction Battalions and got underway for the Mariana Islands on the 29th. En route, the attack transport made an 11-day stop at Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands from 8 to 19 October. The ship disembarked her passengers at Tinian Island in the Marianas on 26 October and made a five-day visit to Saipan between 27 and 31 October.
Following her visit to Saipan, Adair embarked upon an 11-week assignment in the southwestern Pacific with the 7th Fleet. She reported for duty to the Commander, 7th Fleet, on 5 November and, for one month thereafter, made short voyages between ports in the southwestern Pacific including Hollandia and Finschhafen in New Guinea and Manus in the Admiralty Islands. On 5 December, she concluded that series of voyages at Noemfoor, an island of the Schouten group located just north of the western portion of New Guinea. There, she began preparations for her part in the impending assault on Luzon.
Adair embarked elements of the Army's 158th Regimental Combat Team and-after maneuvers at Japen Island on 2 January 1945 and a refueling stop at Mios Woendi-got underway for Lingayen Gulf on 4 January. Although her formation's passage to northwestern Luzon was marked by frequent air alerts and at least one underwater sound contact, the transport and her ships experienced no actual hostile action. Adair carried troops assigned to the Reinforcement Group and, consequently, did not participate in the 9 January initial assault. She entered the gulf on the night of 10 and 11 January, and Adair had completed unloading by nightfall. On her voyage from Lingayen Gulf to Leyte, she continued her charmed life though air attacks occurred sporadically. At Leyte, she embarked elements of the Army's 12th Cavalry Regiment for transportation to the Luzon campaign. On the return voyage, air attacks resumed. Adair came through unscathed, but companion ship Shadwell (LSD-15) suffered a damaging kamikaze crash on the 24th that forced her to return to Leyte for repairs. At Lingayen, Adair disembarked the cavalrymen and took casualties on board for the return voyage to Leyte.
Early in February, the attack transport voyaged from Leyte to the southern Solomons to prepare for the last major amphibious assault of the war, the invasion of Okinawa. She concluded her stay in the Solomons with a week of maneuvers and then departed Guadalcanal on 15 March with elements of the 4th Marines and of the 11th Construction Battalion (Special) embarked. She stopped at Ulithi Atoll in the Western Carolines between the 26th and 28th and then continued on to the Ryukyus. Adair and her companions arrived off the objective before sunrise on D day, 1 April, and began unloading equipment and disembarking troops at dawn. A shore battery opened fire on the transports, but heavy ships of the gunfire support group quickly silenced it, permitting the unloading to continue. That night, she and other transports retired to a safer area at sea to the west of Okinawa. She continued that routine, daylight unloading at the Hagushi beaches alternated with night retirements to the East China Sea, until 5 April. Air alerts continued throughout the period though Adair escaped direct attack.
On 5 April, the ship departed the Ryukyus in company with a convoy bound for Saipan. She stopped only briefly in the Marianas before resuming her voyage via Pearl Harbor to San Francisco, which port she entered on 27 April. After voyage repairs, the attack transport embarked men and equipment of the 1022d Construction Battalion and departed the west coast on 18 May for a round-trip voyage to Guiuan on Samar Island in the Philippines. She concluded that mission at San Francisco on 20 July by disembarking soldiers returning for discharge. On 2 August, she returned to sea carrying replacements to the Fleet. On the day she crossed the International Dateline, 14/15 August, the Japanese capitulated; and hostilities formally ended.
Adair dropped off her passengers at Eniwetok on 5 September and continued on to the Philippines. She made stops at Tacloban on Luzon, Guiuan on Samar, and at Panay Island before clearing the archipelago on 14 September with occupation troops embarked for Korea. She returned to the Philippines late in September and loaded additional occupation troops. After carrying those men to Jinsen, Korea, early in October, she shaped a course for Okinawa on the 16th. The attack transport loaded marines during her brief stop in the Ryukyus and then got underway for the west coast. She arrived in San Diego on Armistice Day 1945.
Adair made one more round-trip voyage to the western Pacific in December and January. She carried replacements to Guam where she replaced them with another draft of replacements bound for Tientsin, China. At Tientsin and Shanghai, she loaded her last group of returning veterans and headed home. She reached the west coast early in 1946 and there found orders sending her to the east coast and inactivation. The attack transport arrived in Norfolk, Va., on 8 March 1946.
Adair was placed out of commission at Norfolk on 30 April 1946. She was delivered to the Maritime Commission's War Snipping Administration for disposal on 3 May 1946, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 8 May 1946. The former attack transport was sold sometime in 1947 to American Export Lines Inc., of New York City. She was refitted for mercantile service and served as SS Express for over two decades, first with the American Export Lines, Inc., and, near the end of her career, with the Mutual Steamship Operating Co. Sometime between early 1970 and early 1971, her name disappeared from mercantile lists.
Adair earned two battle stars during World War II.