USS Hambleton (DD-455)
The USS Hambleton (DD-455) served in the U.S. Navy for three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Samuel Hambleton who served in the Battle of Lake Erie and the War of 1812. Hambleton was built as a Gleaves-class destroyer.
Hambleton was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in December 1940, launched in September 1941, and commissioned in December with Commander Forrest Close in command. Carrying a crew of 208, Hambleton was armed with four five-inch anti-aircraft guns, six one-half inch machine guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Hambleton began a wartime shakedown cruise in January 1942, and then was deployed to an anti-submarine operation off Cuba in March, during which she rescued six survivors of the torpedoed SS Ceibra. In April, Hambleton escorted Augusta and Ranger to Africa, and on the way back to the West Indies, collided with Ellyson. She then sailed back to Charleston, South Carolina for repairs.
After sailing with a troop transport from New York to Ireland in July, Hambleton was assigned to the Joint British and American Naval Forces in Europe. During this deployment, Hambleton conducted anti-submarine patrols and plane guard duty for HMS Duke of York. She then participated in Operation Torch in North Africa, and served as a screen for aircraft carrier Sangamon, in November. Following the assault, Hambleton was struck by a torpedo and repaired at Casablanca and Boston.
Hambleton escorted a convoy to Algeria in April 1944 and served escort duty in preparation for the Normandy Invasion, and also provided shore bombardment and screening services following the invasion. She bombarded shore targets prior to Operation Anvil in August, and was converted into high-speed minesweeper DMS-20 in November. Following this conversion, Hambleton sailed to Okinawa for minesweeping, screening, and patrol duty, and then performed minesweeping operations in the East China Sea in mid-July, where she returned to in August when Japan accepted terms of peace in August.
Hambleton also swept Tokyo Bay beginning in August, ahead of occupation forces, and rode out four typhoons before leaving the area in November. She returned to the United States in late December and conducted fleet exercises before deploying with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean in 1949, 1952, and 1954. Hambleton was decommissioned in January 1955 and sold for scrap in November 1972.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Hambleton (DD-455)
Hambleton posed a significant asbestos risk to her crew. Asbestos insulation and fireproofing was installed throughout the ship. Her combat operations were likely to cause additional wear and tear to most systems, creating asbestos dust. The rough seas she endured out of Tokyo Bay presented a similar risk. It is probable that most sailors on Hambleton suffered some exposure to asbestos while serving. Inhaling asbestos fibers is known to cause mesothelioma. Legal options exist for Navy veterans harmed by maritime asbestos exposure.
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-455.
NavSource Naval History, USS Hambleton (DD-455).