The USS Bainbridge (DD-1) was the lead ship of her class, used by the United States during the first two decades of the 20th century. She was the second vessel to bear the name of William Bainbridge (1774-1833), an early U.S. Naval officer.
In August of 1899, the keel of a new type of naval warship – known as the "Torpedo-boat destroyer" – was laid down at the Neafie and Levy Ship and Engine Building Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The completed vessel launched just over two years later. Initially placed in reserve in November 1902, Bainbridge received her full commission under the command of Lieutenant G.W. Williams the following February.
Bainbridge spent most of her career in the waters off China and the Philippines with the Asiatic Fleet as part of the U.S. mission to protect commercial interests as the political and social situation in China deteriorated during the early years of the 20th century. In this respect, the Bainbridge and her crew were trailblazers; it was the first time the new type of warship was used in active duty, proving the versatility and effectiveness of the "torpedo-boat destroyer" (eventually shortened to "destroyer").
Bainbridge remained in Asian waters with the outbreak of the First World War. She was not ordered to Europe until July of 1917, after the U.S. had been officially at war with Germany for three months. She had a brief encounter with a German U-boat off the coast of Italy in October of that year, but spent most of the war and the months following performing escort duty for convoys traveling in and out of the Mediterranean via the Strait of Gibraltar.
In 1907, the Bainbridge was decommissioned at the Cavite Naval Base in Manila in order to carry out massive repairs on her boiler tubes, which had been causing problems for over two years. After well over a year in the yard, Bainbridge returned to active duty in 1908.
The USS Bainbridge was finally decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in July 1919. She was sold to the Joseph Hitner Ironworks a year later, where she was converted into a freighter and resold. The former Bainbridge spent her remaining years as a fruit carrier before she was scrapped several years later.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Bainbridge (DD-1)
The Bainbridge was one of the first Naval warships to take advantage of the latest steam-propulsion technology of the time, the triple-expansion steam engine. Steam engines used asbestos for insulation and fireproofing, and as a result crew who served aboard the Bainbridge may have been exposed to asbestos fibers. The inhalation of asbestos fibers is known to cause mesothelioma, a form of asbestos cancer. Unfortunately the mesothelioma survival rate is very poor even with aggressive mesothelioma treatment.
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Mann, Raymond. "Bainbridge [II]." Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/b1/bainbridge-ii.htm. Updated 13 December 2005. Retrieved 26 November 2010.