HISTORY OF USNS WALKER
The General Nelson M. Walker (AP-125) built under a Maritime Administration contract, was launched 26 November 1944 at the Bethlehem-Almeda Shipyard in Alameda, California. She was originally a Navy Transport named in honor of Admiral H. T. Mayo and was comissioned 24 April 1945 as USS Admiral H.T. Mayo.
Admiral Mayo was born in Burlington, Vermont, 8 December 1856, and appointed a cadet midshipman at the Naval Academy in 1872. He graduated in 1876. After serving on the Bennington and R.S. Independence during the Spanish-American War, Admiral Mayo was designated as Commander -in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet on 19 June 1916. In May of 1917 he assumed rank of Admiral and continued as Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic until his detachment on 2 July 1919.
The USS Admiral Mayo (AP-125) first commanded by Captain R.C. Heimer, USCG steamed both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as a troop carrier and cargo vessel between May 1945 and May 1946.
On 25th April 1946, the Admiral Mayo stood out of Seattle, bound for New York City and planned inactivation. She was decommisioned on 11 May in the New York Naval Shipyard. However, on 26 May, the Mayo was transferred to the Army Transport Service and redisignated the USAT General Nelson M. Walker.
Brigadier General Nelson Macy Walker was a native of Pittsfield, Mass. He began his Army career in 1917 at the officer's training camp at Plattsburg, N.Y. Commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Reserve during World War I, he served in the Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives in France. He advanced through the ranks to that of Assistant Division Commander of the 8th Infantry Division during World War II. Brigadier General Walker gave his life for his country on the invasion beaches of Normandy in July, 1944.
Under the Army Transport Service the Walker made her base of operations Seattle, and by the first half of 1948 she had completed 15 voyages between Pacific coast ports and Hawaii, the Phillipines, Mariannas, Korea and Japan.
In July 1948, she entered a triangular pattern: San Francisco - Yokohama - Okinawa - U.S. West Coast.
In 1949, she began to serve Okinawa exclusively and was affectionately called the "Okinawa Express." She had completed 27 voyages for the Army Transport Service by 1 March 1950 when she was re-acquired by the Navy's Millitary Sea Transportation Service and operated as the USNS General Nelson M. Walker (T-AP 125).
The Walker continued to serve NSTS much as she had the former Army Transport Service.
At first she remained on the Okinawa run, but at the outbreak of the Korean War she was pressed into service ferrying troops to the Far East. Ports of Japan and Korea became the focal points of her itenerary. Okinawa appeared only now and then on her schedule.
Following her return to San Francisco on completion of her 18th voyage, 10 December 1951, she departed for Seattle to enter the shipyard for conversion to an "austerity trooper."
On one voyage in mid-1952, as the walker neared San Francisco she received word she would be deployed aroung the world for transport of United Nations troops to and from Korea.
On 5th September 1952 her world deployment was terminated. She had called at 15 different ports, steamed 34,575 miles and transported 17,907 persons without a mishap.
The Walker resumed her trans-Pacific run to Japan and Korea. In 1953 she made eight round-trips and had the distinction of bringing home the first group of returning American prisoners-of-war.
On 20 January 1959, the USNS General Nelson M. Walker (T-AP 125) was placed in the Maritime Administration Reserve Fleet in the Hudson River at Jones Point near New York City.
In August, 1965, the Walker was taken out of the Maritime Reserve Fleet and reactivated by the Military Sea Transportation Service to be placed in active service about mid-autumn 1965.