The USS Nicholson (DD-982) served in the U.S. Navy for over two decades in the late 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. She was named for the five sons of Joseph and Hannah Scott Nicholson who served in battles ranging from the American Revolutionary War to the Civil War. Nicholson was commissioned as a Spruance-class destroyer.
Nicholson was laid down at Pascagoula, Mississippi by the Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation in February 1976, launched in November 1977, and commissioned in May 1979 with Commander Wesley E. Jordan, Jr., in command. Carrying a crew of 296, Nicholson was 563 feet in length, with a total displacement of 7,800 tons. The destroyer was armed with two five-inch rapid fire guns, a surface-to-air missile system, an anti-submarine rocket launcher, six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes, and one helicopter.
Nicholson conducted operations in the Atlantic throughout the 1980s and served as an escort for aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower in April 1987. During a European deployment, Nicholson visited The Netherlands and Belgium in 1992. Nicholson joined forces with Saratoga, with Task Force 60, in the Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean, and was then reassigned to Destroyer Squadron 18 in July 1995. The destroyer received an overhaul at the Charleston Naval Shipyard, and was the last ship to be overhauled there before the facility closed in 1996.
Nicholson changed home ports to Norfolk, Virginia in October 1995 and then was deployed to the Middle East for six months beginning in December 1996. The destroyer took part in the sinking of Richmond K. Turner in August 1998, during which various weapons systems were tested. In November, Nicholson sailed for the Middle East with Enterprise and served during Operation Desert Fox against Saddam Hussein.
Nicholson collided with fast combat support ship Detroit in August 2000, but both ships received only minor damage from the incident 100 miles off Virginia. A six-month deployment to Europe and the Middle East followed with Enterprise and Kearsarge. Decommissioned in December 2002 at the Naval Station at Norfolk, Nicholson was struck from the Navy list in December 2004 and sunk in July 2005. Commendations included a Joint Meritorious Unit Award, five Naval Battle Efficiency Ribbons, four Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals, and 11 Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Nicholson (DD-982)
Because of its extraordinary versatility, asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used in nearly every compartment and corridor in a ship. Although she was built at the end of the asbestos era, many compartments of Nicholson contained asbestos in significant quantities. The majority of asbestos on this ship was found in engineering sections, where alternatives were either too expensive or not yet ready.
The risk to sailors aboard Nicholson was greatest for those that were stationed in engineering. That said, there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure. The link between exposure to the mineral and mesothelioma is well accepted. Because asbestos diseases often take decades to develop, veterans of this ship may yet become ill. Our free mesothelioma guide can be a valuable resource in learning more about the disease, treatment options, and your legal rights. Just complete the form on this page to receive your information packet.
GlobalSecurity.org. DD-982 Nicholson “Fortune Favors the Brave.”
NavSource Naval History. USS Nicholson (DD-982).