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USS Josephus Daniels (CG-27)

Josephus Daniels (1862-1948), Secretary of the Navy (1913-1921) under President Woodrow Wilson, served as the namesake for the USS Josephus Daniels (CG-27)—the only US Navy ship to bear this name. Under Josephus Daniels’s leadership, the Navy made great strides that would have a lasting historical impact, including allowing women to enter the service, encouraging promotions from within the ranks, and initiating the practice of granting 100 sailors per year entrance into the Naval Academy. USS Josephus Daniels was the second ship of nine that comprised the Belknap class of guided-missile cruisers. Among the key tasks of this class were to provide antiair warfare (AAW) and antisurface warfare (ASUW) defense for aircraft carriers and to support amphibious operations by providing defense against submarines via antisubmarine warfare (ASW).

Construction

After having received the contract on May 18, 1961 to construct the USS Josephus Daniels, Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine laid down her keel on April 23, 1962. Sponsored by Mrs. Robert M. Woronoff and Mrs. Clyde R. Rich, Jr.—granddaughters of the ship’s namesake—the USS Josephus Daniels was launched on December 2, 1963 as a destroyer leader (frigate) with the hull classification symbol DLG-27. Commissioned on May 8, 1965, this US Navy vessel employed a crew of 418 officers and enlisted men led by Captain Harry A. Cummings. The ship was later reassigned a new hull classification symbol of CG-27 upon her reclassification as a guided-missile cruiser on June 30, 1975.

The USS Josephus Daniels, measuring 547 feet in length, displaced 7,930 tons and was capable of achieving a maximum speed of 32 knots. She was powered by four 1200 psi (pounds per square inch pressure) boilers in addition to two General Electric geared turbines. In support of her duties of providing AAW, ASUW, and ASW, her armament included two MK-141 Harpoon missile launchers, one MK-42 5inch/54 caliber gun, two radar-guided Gatling guns mounted on swiveling bases (20mm Phalanx CIWS), one MK-10 missile launcher for standard missiles and antisubmarine rockets (ASROC), and MK-46 torpedoes from two MK-32 triple mounts.

Naval History

At the onset of her career, the USS Josephus Daniels was based out of Norfolk, Virginia and conducted operations as a unit of Cruiser-Destroyer Force, US Atlantic Fleet.

The Mediterranean Sea served as the destination for Josephus Daniels’s first deployment in 1967. Here she participated in a variety of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exercises and maintained a forceful presence emanating stability and peace in the often unstable and potentially violent environment of the Middle East. She returned to her homeport in Virginia by the spring.

After participating in the unsuccessful search for the USS Scorpion (SSN-589) from May 27-31, 1968, Josephus Daniels deployed to South America in July of that same year where she joined South American naval forces in a circumnavigation of South America for UNITAS IX—an annual series of intense, joint field exercises performed by the US and South American Navies in an effort to build multinational coalitions.

USS Josephus Daniels initiated a Western Pacific deployment on February 25, 1970. After transiting the Panama Canal and crossing the International Dateline, she arrived in the Gulf of Tonkin (off of the coast of Vietnam) to assume her duties. When this 251 day deployment was complete, Josephus Daniels returned home to Virginia.

The year 1971 brought about a second Mediterranean deployment for Josephus Daniels from July 6th through December 17th. During this deployment, she carried out her duties as a flagship for Destroyer Squadron 26.

On June 2, 1973, Josephus Daniels departed on yet another Mediterranean voyage. This deployment included participation in two exercises—NATO Operation Deep Express in the Mediterranean Sea followed by Operation Ocean Safari in the Arctic Ocean. Further Mediterranean deployments ensued for Josephus Daniels throughout the years 1975 through 1981.

After years spent patrolling Mediterranean waters, Josephus Daniels embarked on a deployment to the Indian Ocean on January 5, 1982. While traveling near Sicily on January 23rd, a SH-3 Sea King helicopter lost power and crashed into the fantail of Josephus Daniels while transferring personnel and supplies to the ship. The helicopter incurred serious damage, but due to the valiant efforts of Josephus Daniels’s crew there were only minor injuries to the personnel involved. Following this incident, Josephus Daniels transited the Suez Canal on February 3rd en route to execute the tasks assigned to her on this deployment. Having successfully completed her mission, Josephus Daniels returned to Virginia in July.

The USS Josephus Daniels continued to carry out deployments for the remainder of her career with visits to the Caribbean Sea (1984), the Arctic Ocean (1985), the Indian Ocean (1985), the Mediterranean Sea (1987 and 1993), the Persian Gulf (1988), and South America (1990 for UNITAS XXXI).

Simultaneously decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on January 21, 1994, the USS Josephus Daniels concluded her nearly 29 years in service witp8 major deployments to her credit. She was sold for scrap to the International Shipbreaking Corporation in Brownsville, Texas where she was dismantled with all scrapping completed by November 8, 1999.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Josephus Daniels (CG-27)

The naturally-occurring mineral asbestos has been scientifically linked to the development of a variety of diseases - mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and gastrointestinal cancer among them. Asbestos disease are often characterized by a long latency period which can range anywhere from 20 to 50 years. As a result, individuals exposed to this hazardous material during the 1960s and 1970s—the time when the USS Josephus Daniels was constructed and in operation—may just be beginning to exhibit symptoms of disease or perhaps will not present with any signs of an illness for years to come.

Asbestos use was widespread in the shipbuilding industry due in large part to its heat-, fire-, and chemical-resistant properties, in addition to its relatively low cost and accessibility. The Navy not only praised asbestos as a “wonder product” aimed at protecting her sailors from the dangers of fire aboard her vessels, but she went a step further and actually mandated the use of asbestos in more than 300 products employed in the construction and maintenance of her ships.

Navy personnel, shipyard workers, and family members who co-habituated with these individuals are all considered to be groups at risk for the development of asbestos-related diseases. In its original form, asbestos is composed of bundles of durable fibers. Through industrial applications, by means of decomposition due to age and disruption due to construction, maintenance, and demolition procedures, tiny fibers from these bundles are released into the surrounding environment where they are poised for human inhalation or ingestion. Also, once asbestos dust becomes airborne, it is easily transported to other locations, such as the home environment, on clothing and personal effects. Once inhaled or ingested, these durable fibers attach themselves to the inner linings of the heart, lungs, and abdomen where they can result in inflammation, difficulty with breathing, and can potentially infect healthy cells in a way that promotes mutation into cancerous cells.

If you served aboard a cruiser such as the USS Josephus Daniels, or performed work in US Naval shipyards prior to the 1980s when safety procedures restricting asbestos exposure were either minimal or non-existent, the chances that you were exposed to asbestos are significant. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please contact us for an information packet that will support you in your exploration of the medical and legal resources available to victims of asbestos exposure.

Sources
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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