The USAT George Washington carried 7,000 Centurymen from New York to Marseilles, France. Departing on 6 October 1944, she and her small convoy weathered a violent hurricane enroute, but arrived safely at Marseilles on 20 October.
The ship was built as a German passenger liner in the Vulkan Works in Stettin, Pomerania (which became Szczecin, Poland after WWII) and was launched on 10 November 1908. She was operated by the North German Lloyd Line until the outbreak of WWI, when her captain sought refuge in New York, which was at that time a neutral port. With the entry of the United States into the war in 1917, ironically, she was converted into a troopship for transporting American troops to France.
George Washington sailed with her first load of troops on 4 December 1917, and made 18 round trips to Europe in support of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) over the next two years. She also made several special voyages carrying such notable personalities as President Woodrow Wilson, Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the King and Queen of Belgium. She continued to sail the Atlantic as a passenger and freight liner until reacquired for troopship duty in January 1941.
Her crew discovered that her coal-burning engines did not provide enough speed to protect her from submarines, so in April 1943, they were replaced by an oil burning power plant. Armed with deck guns (to engage submarines) and anti-aircraft guns, she made her first Atlantic crossing of the Second World War in May 1943, and continued in regular duty throughout the war.
USAT George Washington was taken out of service in April 1947, and remained tied up to a pier in Baltimore until fire damage her in 1951. She was subsequently sold for scrap.
US Coast Guard photo contributed by Bob Tessmer, I/397th Infantry Regiment.