Taurus was laid down as the dock landing shipUSS Fort Snelling (LSD-23) on 8 November 1944 at Chickasaw, Alabama, by the Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation. The end of World War II made her services unnecessary, and the Navy cancelled the contract for her acquisition. The unchristened hull changed hands twice before being completed in 1956 as the roll-on/roll-off ship SS Carib Queen for Trailer Marine Transport, Inc. In 1957, the ship received a Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) charter for transatlantic service. However, problems in her propulsion system caused delays and repairs which prevented her actually serving MSTS. In March, 1958 after Trailer Marine Transport, Inc. had defaulted on her mortgage, the Maritime Administration took over the vessel. She was assigned to MSTS on 15 January 1959, renamed Taurus, and designated T-AK-273.