USS Miller (DD-535)
The USS Miller (DD-535) served in the U.S. Navy for over three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Quartermaster James Miller who served during the Civil War. Miller was a member of the Fletcher class of naval destroyers.
Miller was laid down at San Francisco, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in August 1942, launched in March 1943, and commissioned in August with Commander Theodore H. Kolberg in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Miller was armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Miller was assigned to Destroyer Squadron 52, and arrived at Pearl Harbor in November 1943 until January 1944, when the destroyer was deployed for screening and gunfire support for forces at Kwajelein and Eniwetok islands. In February, Miller joined Task Force 58 at Majur and participated in strikes on Palau, Ulithi, and Woleai in March, as well as in various raids at New Guinea in April.
Prior to operations in the Marianas, Miller served with the force at Marcus and Wake Islands in May, and then with the carrier force during operations from Volcano to Bonin Islands in the Marianas. Saipan and Guam were also targeted, and Miller was present during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Miller also helped support the invasion of Palaus by participating in raids on Leyte, Luzon, Palau Mindanao, and Samar, and then served in the Battle for Leyte Gulf.
Miller served during raids on Okinawa, Kyushu, and Honshu in March 1945, and conducted rescue and firefighting operations when aircraft carrier Franklin was bombed by enemy aircraft. In April, Miller was ordered back to the United States and was stationed at Mare Island Navy Yard until the end of World War II, and was then assigned to the Reserve Fleet at San Diego in December. She was re-commissioned in May 1951, and deployed to Korea from September 1952 to February 1953.
Miller returned to the United States and commenced service along the east coast, with a deployment to Lebanon with the 6th Fleet in 1958. In 1959, she was assigned to reservist training at Boston. Miller was decommissioned in June 1964, stricken from the Navy list in December 1974, and sold for scrap in July 1975.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Miller (DD-535)
Since material contaminated with asbestos was found all over Miller, nearly every member of the crew was exposed at one point or another. Sailors handling ship's machinery were exposed more frequently and to a greater degree, as were sailors serving in fire suppression crews. Because the business of dockyards was ship repair, asbestos was frequently in the air, and dockyard crews were also exposed.
Protracted exposure to asbestos insulation, and particularly airborne asbestos, increases a person's risk of contracting mesothelioma. Asbestos-containing material damaged in collision or battle was particularly dangerous because the material became friable, meaning the individual fibers began to separate from the asbestos-containing material. Working around fire- or water-damaged asbestos fibers or damaged machinery exposed Miller's crewmen and yard workers to more dangerous levels of asbestos than the amounts routinely encountered. Legal options are available for sailors and dockworkers diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-535.
NavSource Naval History, USS Miller (DD-535).