Ship: USS General Harry Taylor

The USNS General Harry Taylor

The USNS General Harry Taylor

The USS General Harry Taylor was built in 1943 by Kaiser Co. Inc in Richmond, California. She was named for the US Army Chief of Engineers Harry Taylor.

Like the Langfitt, she was originally a troop transport during the war. When the war was over, the Navy decommissioned her. But on March 1, 1950, the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) reactivated her to help transport refugees and troops from Europe, back to the Americas or elsewhere in the world.

In 1957, she carried thousands of Hungarian refugees to Australia during the Hungarian Revolution for a year, then was deactivated once again in 1958. In 1961 she was transferred to the US Air Force and renamed the USAFS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg. In 1964, the Navy acquired her and she was designated T-AGM-10, as a Missile Range Instrumentation Ship, carrying out duties in both Atlantic and Pacific waters until 1993, when she was stricken from the Naval register.

In 1998, the movie “Virus”  shot some scenes aboard the ex-General Hoyt S. Vandenberg. The ship was supposed to be a Russian vessel known as the Akademik Vladislav Volkov.

On Wednesday, May 27, 2009, she was sunk off the coast of Florida, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, used as an artificial reef. You can still see some of the Cyrillic lettering painted on the hull from the movie filming to this day.

The USS General Harry Taylor carried Janis Akerfelds and his family, minus his eldest two sons, to Berthoud, Colorado, USA on August 12, 1950 from Bremerhaven, Germany.

a diver explores the sunken General Hoyt Vandenburg

a diver explores the sunken General Hoyt Vandenburg

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12 thoughts on “Ship: USS General Harry Taylor

  1. My name is Audris Zidermanis. I was born in Riga, Latvia. After WWII, I spent approximately seven years in D.P camps in Germany. I also came to the U.S. via USNS General Harry Taylor in 1950. Can you give me the name of your port of entry? Mine was New Orleans. We may have been on the ship at the same time.

    • Hi Audris!
      My family’s port of arrival was New York. It looks like the Harry Taylor made at least 4 trips to New York with Latvian refugees in 1950, landing on 20 Apr, 23 Aug, 23 Oct and 28 Dec. My family was on the 23 Aug trip. Do you know the date of your arrival?
      What DP camps were you in?

    • Hello! I was reviewing audio tapes from my late father, Gunars Valdis Pencis. He thought that the family came over on board the USS Hersey, but the information here seems to match exactly! They came from Bremerhaven Germany in 1950 into the port of New Orleans. They were then taken by train to Berthoud Colorado and then eventually to Colorado Springs. My grandmother, Elvira Alise Olga Pencis (Kalnins), still lives there today! Does anybody have the manifest or passenger list? I was looking into ordering a copy to confirm this arrival and ship information… Maybe they were on the USS Taylor!

      • My parents came over to New York on the USS Taylor and arrived on 1-27-1952. If you want a passenger list you can get one from Ancestry.com for free

  2. In connection with my genealogical work I today found that a certain Prof. Nikolajs Vetra and his wife Helga – accompanied by 2 sons from her previous marriage – arrived at New York in 1951 by “General Harry Taylor”. They came from Germany, where hey maried after WW II – but both are of Latvian roots (Riga).

    • My mother’s name is also Helga and we (two brothers, two sisters) also came to the U.S., via “General Taylor, in1950. Our port of entry was New Orleans. My dad never made it out. Wes spent seven years in camps in the British Zone. I was also born in Riga.

      • This sounds identical to what my father has told me! Spent many years in the British zone and my dad and his brothers were split up at some point and sent to live in Belgium. My dad, Gunars, was born in Daugavpils, but they lived in Riga (on Krisjana Barona iela) when they fled. His mother is from Cesis. His father is from Valka. I took my dad “home” in 2012 and got to fill in a lot of blanks. But the travel to the states is still missing some things… Did you also go to Colorado when you got to New Orleans?

  3. After landing in New Orleans, we boarded a train to Dallas, TX. I would still like to find a list of the individuals that were transported from Germany, via General Taylor to New Orleans. I would like to think that some of them are still alive and could fill in some details in my own personal journey to the U.S.

    • My mother and I came to NYC in March 1952. We left from Bremerhaven. We hit bad weather. I was 6 and did not get sick but, oh boy, many of the other passengers! I recall 3 bunk beds 1 on top of the other. I’m glad to be in the USA but it would be interesting to know how different my life might have been had I stayed in Germany.

      • Fred, We went to the port of New York from Bremerhaven in 1952 and there was also very bad weather but I don’t know what month it was. I was 4 at the time and stayed in America for 57 years. I moved back to Germany 4 years ago and haven’t regretted it at all. My wife and I moved to a beautiful valley about an hour south of Stuttgart. My parents moved back after 25 years because my mom got stabbed in the neck for 2 dollars and their house got torched 2 weeks later. They lived in Detroit. I was pretty successful until 2008, when the economy went bad. I will never go back to the US unless to a funeral, when one of my siblings dies.

  4. Hello,
    My name is Vladimir Lipsky. I was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia in 1941. My father was an officer in the Russian White army during the Russian revolution. My family fled from Czechoslovakia to southern Germany in April 1945 as the Soviet troops were overrunning Czechoslovakia and Hungary. My family (my 2 sisters and parents) lived in refugee camp in Germany (- Mayerhof in Passau – American zone) from 1945 to 1949.

    We were transported from the Mayerhof camp to Naples where we boarded the Harry Taylor troopship around 1st July 1949 and arrived in Sydney Australia on July 29, 1949.

    For me as an 8 year old boy, the journey on the Harry Taylor was like going to heaven.

    My e-mail address is thelipskys@gmail.com If anyone would like to write to me and maybe we can share a few stories of those days – days which no one should relive again.

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