USS Lawrence (DD-8) was a Bainbridge-class destroyer in the U.S. Navy before and during World War I. Originally designated as Torpedo Boat Destroyers, the Bainbridge-class destroyers were the first destroyers of the U.S. Navy. Lawrence was named in honor of James Lawrence (1781–1813) whose final command before dying in action, “Don’t give up the ship”, is still remembered today.
In April 1899, Lawrence was laid down at Weymouth, Massachusetts, by the Fore River Shipyard. The completed vessel was launched a year and a half later in November 1900. Lawrence was commissioned in April 1903 under the command of Lieutenant Andre M. Proctor.
During the summer of 1903, Lawrence operated off the New England coast while assigned to the 2nd Torpedo Flotilla. By year’s end, she had steamed to Key West, Florida, for winter exercises.
In 1904 through 1906, Lawrence carried out Midshipmen cruises and engaged in torpedo practice drills along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean. She was decommissioned in November 1906, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Recommissioned in July 1907, Lawrence continued training exercises out of Norfolk, Virginia. In December she resumed exercises with the torpedo flotilla in Caribbean waters and off South America.
After a brief call at San Diego, California, in April 1908, Lawrence continued on to San Francisco. For the next four years, she sailed the Pacific and patrolled the entire west coast while performing maneuvers with the 3rd Torpedo Flotilla. Lawrence was placed in commission reserve from June 1912 until April 1914.
She returned to full commission status that April and sailed from San Francisco to Mexico where she patrolled the coast during the Mexican revolution to protect American and foreign nationals. Lawrence returned to Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California, the following September where she was placed in reserve status once more.
Lawrence was reinstated to full commission following America’s entry into World War I. In June 1917, she linked with coastal defense units and by late July Lawrence arrived at Balboa, Panama, where she guarded access routes to the Panama Canal Zone. Lawrence arrived at Key West in June 1918. There, she patrolled the coast and performed escort duty. Following the Armistice, Lawrence steamed to Philadelphia where she was decommissioned on 20 June 1919 and sold to Joseph G. Hitner in January 1920.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Lawrence (DD-8)
The asbestos risk on pre World War I era vessels is often difficult to assess. It is known that the U.S. Navy began using asbestos insulation and fireproofing before Lawrence was commissioned. If your loved one served aboard this vessel and was later diagnosed with mesothelioma, maritime exposure to asbestos is one likely cause.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.