USS Henderson (DD-785)
The USS Henderson (DD-785) served in the U.S. Navy for three and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Major Lofton R. Henderson who served at the Battle of Midway early in the Second World War. Henderson was built as a Gearing-class destroyer.
Henderson was laid down at Seattle, Washington by the Todd Pacific Shipyards Corporation in October 1944, launched in May 1945, and commissioned in August with Commander H. A. Knoertzer in command. Armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, Henderson was 390 feet, six inches in length.
Henderson arrived off Hawaii in November 1945 and commenced screening duties there for aircraft carriers. The destroyer also conducted sonar tests with submarines, and then sailed back to the west coast in April 1946. Henderson also tested equipment and clothing in Antarctic waters and, after stays at Sydney, Australia and San Diego, was deployed for occupation duty in Japan and then to Korea in August 1950.
Henderson served with United Nations forces, as a screening and combat vessel, during the Korean War. She operated during the Inchon invasion in September and remained there until October. Operations in the Formosa Strait and with the coastal blockade followed, and Henderson returned to San Diego in March 1952 and served her third Korean tour from March 1953 to October. The destroyer then made regular cruises to the Far East, operating with the 7th Fleet, on many occasions.
In August 1964, Henderson commenced an annual routine of voyages to Vietnam. The destroyer was overhauled at Long Beach, California in December and then operated in the South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin to screen other ships battling the Viet Cong. During this deployment, Henderson served off South Vietnam and in the Gulf of Siam.
Henderson returned to the west coast in January 1966 and operated as a school ship in San Diego. In early-1967, Henderson returned to Southeast Asia and supported the operations of aircraft carriers and conducted shore bombardments in the region. She returned to Long Beach in June and remained on the Navy list until September 1980. Transferred to Pakistan as Tughuril in October 1980, the former Henderson was in commission there until 2001.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Henderson (DD-785)
Insulation made from asbestos has been widely employed in industrial and construction buildings ever since the Industrial Revolution. Merchant and naval ships like Henderson utilized asbestos products as a material for insulation for their boilers and heavy equipment. The Navy installed asbestos extensively as insulation as well as to fireproof equipment aboard all its vessels, exposing numerous personnel to the risk of developing an asbestos related disease like mesothelioma.
If a crewman was an equipment repair or maintenance worker, the level of exposure would have likely been higher than normal. Exposure to large amounts of asbestos insulation, and specifically friable (or airborne) asbestos, significantly increases the risk of being contracting this life threatening disease.
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-785.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd785txt.htm) Retrieved 16 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Henderson (DD-785).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/785.htm) Retrieved 16 February 2011.