The SS JOHN LYKES was built by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Kearny, New Jersey, launched 20 December 1940 and completed in January 1941. She was a so-called C-1 class cargo ship. She was scrapped in Panama City, Florida, in December 1972, which implies that she had a long career as a commercial vessel after World War II. See
http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/1major/inactive/federalkearny.htm and scroll down to hull #176. See also http://www.usmm.org/c1ships.html, which has a photograph of a sister ship, launched about a month before JOHN LYKES in the same shipyard.
C-1 cargo ships were the smallest of five ocean-going cargo ship designs built for the U.S. Maritime Commission in World War II. (The larger designs were cleverly known as the C-2, the C-3, the C-4 and the C-5 classes.) JOHN LYKES was a design C-1B, of which there were 95 more or less identical ships, most of which were built between November 1940 and June 1943. While designed as a cargo ship, many C-1 ships were used as troop transport ships during the war. JOHN LYKES could carry nearly 1,300 troops. The C-1B design was about 418 feet in length and 60 feet wide, a good-sized ship in its day but small compared with modern ships, with a speed of 14 knots, about 16 mph.
See http://drawings.us-maritime-commission.de/drawings_c1.htm for drawings of C-1 ships, including a descriptive paragraph of the C-1B ships built by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, specifically mentioning JOHN LYKES. There is an exceedingly detailed description of the C-1B design at http://drawings.us-maritime-commission.de/drawing/drawings_c1_b_des_fk.htm, probably way more than would be of interest to you.
A personal history of one merchant seaman who sailed in JOHN LYKES between May and August 1945, although he doesn't identify himself on this page, can be found at http://www.armed-guard.com/johnlyke.html.
Do you remember the dates of your voyage from Manila? According to http://www.naval-history.net/xDKWW2-4111-38NOV02.htm, JOHN LYKES was part of convoy 4001 that departed Pearl Harbor 18 November 1941, escorted by the U.S. Navy cruiser USS BOISE, plus Army transport PRESIDENT GRANT and steam ships AMERICAN LEADER, CAPE FAIRWEATHER, and DONA NATI, sailing to Manila, arriving 4 December 1941.
A book published in 2004, "In the Enemy's Camp" by Suzanne Sparrow Watson, describes the evacuation of Americans in Manila sailing in the JOHN LYKES between February and May 1942.
A listing of the operations of the JOHN LYKES between December 1941 and September 1945 is found at http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/ports/index.html?search.php?vessel=JOHN%20LYKES~armain. However this listing does not indicate that the ship was in Manila between December 1941 and May 1942.
I am unable to find any organized information about the JOHN LYKES after World War II.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster