The USS Wedderburn (DD-684) served in the U.S. Navy for two and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Charles Foster Wedderburn who served in World War I. Wedderburn was built as a Fletcher-class naval destroyer.
Wedderburn was laid down at San Francisco, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in January 1943, launched in August, and commissioned in March 1944 with Commander John L. Wilfong in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Wedderburn included an armament of ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns.
Wedderburn sailed for Pearl Harbor in June 1944 and then arrived in the Marshall Islands to take part in the assault on Guam in July, where she remained for three weeks to protect the fleet. Serving as a defense against Japanese submarines, Wedderburn conducted the same service for the aircraft carriers of Task Group 38.2 that launched raids on Mindanao, Leyte, and Palau. These operations lasted through September. In October, Wedderburn operated in the Mariana Islands prior to the invasion of Leyte, Philippines, during which she was stationed off northeastern Luzon.
During the Battle for Leyte Gulf, Wedderburn protected carriers through the final phases of the battle, and departed in November for engine repairs at Ulithi. The destroyer survived a typhoon at Mindoro in December and engaged in the search for survivors of sunken ships. Wedderburn resumed operations at the end of December and then participated in the invasion of Lingayen in January 1945. Supporting the assault on Iwo Jima in February and Okinawa in April, Wedderburn remained off Okinawa until the summer when bombardments on Japan took place.
Wedderburn served as an escort and conducted hydrographic surveys during the occupation, and was decommissioned at San Diego from March 1946, but participated in naval reserve training that August until she was re-commissioned in November 1950. The destroyer underwent reactivation overhaul at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard from January until May 1951, and served two tours of duty during the Korean War. From 1954 to 1964, Wedderburn made several voyages to the western Pacific, and made several trips to Vietnam from 1964 to 1969. Wedderburn remained at San Diego in the summer, following propulsion plant problems, and was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in October 1969. She was sold for scrap in December 1971.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Wedderburn (DD-684)
Because of its great versatility and low cost, asbestos was used in a myriad of applications aboard Wedderburn. Her boilers and steam conduits were insulated with the mineral. Her turbines used asbestos heat shields. Asbestos fireproofing was common in many compartments, especially in engineering sections and galleys. Almost every area of the ship was at least partly contaminated with asbestos fibers.
Many Navy veterans have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of maritime asbestos exposure. If you served aboard Wedderburn and were later diagnosed with asbestos cancer, you have legal rights. An experienced mesothelioma law firm can examine your service and employment history to help you discover the likely sources of your exposure to asbestos. That information is vital in seeking compensation for your injury.
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-684.
NavSource Naval History. USS Wedderburn (DD-684).