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USS Halsey (CG-23)

In commission for over 30 years, the USS Halsey (CG-23) was the first ship of the US Navy to be named in honor of Fleet Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey. This vessel was the eighth guided missile cruiser to be constructed in the series of ships known as the Leahy class.

Construction

Constructed by the San Francisco Naval Shipyard, the keel of the USS Halsey was laid down on August 26, 1960. Sponsored by Mrs. Margaret Denham and Miss Jane Halsey—granddaughters of the Late Fleet Admiral who served as the ship’s namesake—the vessel was launched on January 15, 1962. Originally commissioned as a destroyer leader (DLG) on July 20, 1963, USS Halsey was later reclassified as a guided missile cruiser (CG) on June 30, 1975.

Measuring 533 feet in length, the USS Halsey displaced 7,903 tons and was capable of reaching speeds of up to 32 knots. She employed a crew of 400 officers and enlisted men originally commanded by Captain H. H. Anderson. Her armament consisted of two Mark 10 Terrier surface-to-air missiles (SAM), one anti-submarine rocket (ASROC), four three-inch guns later replaced by Harpoon missiles, six 12.75 inch anti-submarine warfare torpedo tubes (ASW TT), and two anti-ship missile defense systems known as Phalanx CIWS.

Naval History

Homeported in San Diego at the onset of her career, USS Halsey began her time in service with a series of ASW tests and surveys through December of 1963.

Assigned to Destroyer Squadron 7, Destroyer Division 71 on December 13, 1963, Halsey took part in special operations under the guidance of the Secretary of the Navy from December 15th through the 18th. Weapons testing ensued into February of 1964 at which time the USS Halsey fired her first missile.

Halsey carried out a shakedown cruise from March 16th through May 1st of 1964. This cruise was followed by post-shakedown availability which concluded on July 17, 1964.

In 1966, Halsey was once again assigned to Destroyer Squadron 7, Destroyer Division 71. As a member of this unit, she deployed to Subic Bay, Philippines in July, conducted air-sea rescue and ASW operations in the South China Sea in August, and visited Yokosuka, Japan in December. She returned to her homeport of San Diego on December 21st.

USS Halsey began the year of 1967 with training cruises off the West Coast of the United States followed by a mid-year overhaul at the San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard. With her overhaul complete by September, Halsey occupied her time for the remainder of the year with additional training exercises aimed at testing her capabilities.

The duration of USS Halsey’s career was comprised of numerous deployments to the Western Pacific. Prior to the 1970s, these deployments were concentrated in the waters around Vietnam. Halsey’s efforts in subsequent years through 1993 were focused in the waters of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.

Decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on the same day—January 1, 1994—the USS Halsey was sold for scrap to the International Shipbreaking Corporation in Brownsville, Texas where she ceased to exist on November 30, 2003.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Halsey (CG-23)

The extensive use of asbestos from the 1930s through the late 1970s, with no safety measures in place to protect those who came into contact with it, resulted in a significant impact on the health and well-being of numerous unsuspecting workers and service personnel years down the road. Medical science has proven a distinct link between asbestos exposure and the development of one of several diseases, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer. Collectively, these diseases account for nearly 10,000 deaths per year in the United States.

With a particularly high concentration of asbestos use in the shipbuilding industry, many of the victims who have fallen ill due to asbestos-related ailments are older men (above age 50) which is reflective of the majority of those that served as sailors in the Navy and who were employed in US Navy shipyards. Statistics show that asbestos-related deaths account for one life lost out of every 125 American men who die over the age of 50.

Unaware of the dangers that asbestos imposed, sailors and shipyard workers were literally immersed in this toxic substance which was mandated for use by the US Navy. The heat- and fire-resistant attributes of asbestos, combined with its accessibility and relatively low cost, earned it a reputation as a “wonder product” that provided sailors with a blanket of safety within the confines of a ship where protection from heat and fire were of paramount concern. Years later the hazards associated with this naturally-occurring mineral would come to light as victims began to fall ill and the once “wonder product” would be reclassified as a known human carcinogen. The use of asbestos as a means of providing safety was no more as it came to earn a reputation as a serious risk factor that was detrimental to human health and safety.

Exposure to asbestos has serious consequences and requires immediate attention. If you served aboard a cruiser, such as the USS Halsey, or conducted work in a US Navy shipyard you may be at risk for developing mesothelioma. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease please contact us for an information packet which will provide you with a vast array of resources relative to asbestos exposure and your rights as a victim.

Sources
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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