USS Gansevoort (DD-608)
The USS Gansevoort (DD-608) served in the U.S. Navy for less than half a decade during World War II, but remained on the Navy list until 1971. She was named for Commodore Guert Gansevoort who served in the Mexican War and the Civil War. Gansevoort was a member of the Benson class of naval destroyers.
Gansevoort was laid down at San Francisco, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in June 1941, launched in April 1942, and commissioned in August with Lieutenant Commander E.A. McFall in command. Carrying a crew of 208, Gansevoort was 348 feet, four inches long and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, six one-half inch machine guns, and four five-inch anti-aircraft guns.
Gansevoort began her naval service on escort duty from San Francisco to Hawaii, and then continued on to Noumea, New Caledonia. In December 1942, Gansevoort commenced protective duties for troop and supply ships along shipping routes from Guadalcanal to New Caledonia, New Hebrides, and New Zealand. Gansevoort conducted these operations until March 1943 when she was assigned to duty in the Aleutian Islands. During this deployment, Gansevoort served during the bombardment prior to the invasion of Attu in April, and bombarded Kiska on two occasions in August.
Gansevoort returned to Hawaii after a stay at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and then sailed to New Zealand, from where she joined the 2nd Marine Division for operations in the Gilbert Islands. Gansevoort provided gunfire support for onshore marines, and destroyed the Japanese garrison at Apamama Atoll in November. Following the initial operation, Gansevoort served anti-submarine patrols off Tarawa, and returned to the United States in December.
Gansevoort served in the Marshall Islands from April to August 1944, and then sailed to Pearl Harbor and then the Admiralty Islands to prepare for offensives in the Philippines. In October and December, Gansevoort served as a troop and supply convoy escort between New Guinea and the Philippines, where she battled kamikaze planes. Gansevoort was struck by one at the end of December, causing several fires, and then her crew worked tirelessly to save the ship while it was anchored at White Beach.
In February, Gansevoort was finally towed to Ulithi for emergency repairs. She returned to Pearl Harbor in April, and then San Francisco in May. Gansevoort was decommissioned at the Charleston Naval Shipyard in February 1946 and sunk off Florida in March 1972.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Gansevoort (DD-608)
When asbestos is breathed in or swallowed it damages the mesothelium and can lead to mesothelioma. Damaged and worn asbestos products are the most dangerous, as they become friable. Such products release clouds of particulate asbestos when handled, causing a significant exposure risk.
When Gansevoort was damaged by a kamikaze strike, the risk to her crew went beyond the fire and structural damage. The amount of asbestos dust released after such an impact would have presented a serious health hazard to the fire fighters and damage control teams battling to save their ship. Veterans of Gansevoort that were later diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness are likely eligible for compensation.
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-608.
NavSource Naval History. USS Gansevoort (DD-608).