The USS Abner Read (DD-526) served in the U.S. Navy for approximately eighteen months during World War II. Abner Read was built as a Fletcher-class ship.
Abner Read was laid down in San Francisco, California by Bethlehem Steel in October 1941. She was launched in August 1942 and commissioned in February 1943, with Commander T. Burrowes at the helm. Abner Read carried a crew of 273 and offered a cruising speed of 38 knots. She was armed with five five-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Abner Read began her naval career in the Aleutian Islands, where she patrolled, shelled targets, and assisted in bombardments. She then traveled to Adak, Alaska, where she patrolled the waters near Kiska Island. It was during one of these patrols that she was shaken by an explosion in the nighttime hours. It is believed that she struck a mine. A huge hole was blown in her stern, and the smoke tanks were ruptured. Seventy men were lost and another 47 wounded in the incident.
Repairs were completed in late 1943, and Abner Read was sent to Pearl Harbor in February 1944. She participated in the bombardment of Hollandia, assisted in the landing at Humboldt Bay, and fired on enemy batteries at Wewak during the first months of 1944. In the following months, she bombarded Wakdo-Toem, fired on targets on Biak, and assaulted Noemfoor Island. In October, she again engaged in battle at Ponam Island in the Admiralties, then joined the invasion of Leyte Gulf.
It was during the battle at Leyte Gulf that Abner Read suffered a kamikaze attack. The plane’s bomb hit one of the destroyer’s stacks and exploded in the engine room, and the plane itself landed on the main deck, setting the entire rear portion of the ship ablaze. Approximately ten minutes later, there was a significant explosion on board, and the ship listed in the water. After another twenty minutes had passed, she began to roll and sink. Neighboring ships came to assist in the evacuation, and the majority of the crew members were saved. Twenty-two men were lost in the incident.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Abner Read (DD-526)
United States Navy men and women serving or performing repair work on the USS Abner Read were likely to have been exposed to asbestos fibers at some point throughout their service. Some, however, were at greater risk due to the duties that they performed on board the ship.
For example, boiler tenders who were responsible for working around boilers and keeping the fire in them burning worked in a high heat environment. They may have worn asbestos gloves or aprons to protect them from heat. They may have also had to make repairs which involved cutting or removing asbestos insulation or gasket material. Likewise, engine mechanics working in the engine room repaired engines, turbines and pumps all with components that contained asbestos. Because Abner Read experienced significant damage on more than one occasion, the men serving aboard the ship were probably exposed to very high levels of asbestos contamination at least for short periods of time – a level of exposure that is known to carry a risk of developing an asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma.
If you served on the USS Abner Read and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma please fill out the form on this page to request a free and comprehensive packet on asbestos exposure, its risks, and your legal rights.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-526.
NavSource Naval History, USS Abner Read (DD-526).