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USS Adams (DD-739)

USS Adams (DD-739)

The USS Adams (DD-739) served in the U.S. Navy for over two-and-a-half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Samuel Adams who lost his life during the Battle of Midway early in the Second World War. Adams was built as an Allen M. Sumner–class ship.

Construction

Adams was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in March 1944, launched in July, and commissioned in October with Commander Henry J. Armstrong in command. Armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, Adams was 376 feet, six inches long and carried a crew complement of 336.

Naval History

Adams underwent shakedown training off Bermuda in November and then sailed from Norfolk to New York in December. From New York she escorted USS Bennington to California. Following repairs, Adams departed for Hawaii on the first day of 1945 and remained there for two months. During this deployment, Adams conducted tactical exercises and tested mine-laying equipment. She had VF radar equipment installed as well, and was finally deployed to the western Pacific in March 1945.

Adams participated in the invasion of Okinawa and was attacked by enemy aircraft, resulting in two casualties caused by her own gunfire. The destroyer began minesweeping exercises off Okinawa, then provided gunfire support and mine destruction while serving with other minesweepers. During a kamikaze attack in early April, Adams was struck by a damaged plane, two bombs from which exploded onboard. Adams was then struck by two more planes.

After being repaired at Kerama Retto and Mare Island Navy Yard, Adams returned to sea in July and then deployed to Hawaii. Adams arrived in the western Pacific again in mid-August and conducted minesweeping operations off Kyushu and Okinawa, then served in the same roles off Taiwan in November and December. She then returned to the United States and was assigned to the San Diego Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet. Adams remained in reserve for nearly 23 years, during which she was re-designated as fast minelayer MMD-27. She was struck from the Navy list in December 1970 and sold for scrap to a Taiwanese company in December 1971.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Adams (DD-739)

Asbestos has been a known substance since ancient times, but beginning in the 19th century it was widely used in construction and industry as an insulator and for fireproofing. It was also used extensively in shipbuilding. Ships have many pieces of equipment that generate high levels of heat such as boilers and turbines. Asbestos was used heavily in those types of equipment, as well as to insulate compartments all over the ship. Adams had asbestos installed throughout the vessel, particularly in the engine rooms, boiler rooms, and power plant.

Everyone on board a vessel like the USS Adams had the potential to be exposed to asbestos to one degree or another. Crewmen serving in engineering roles, especially maintenance workers, boilermen, and mechanics faced an especially high risk of inhaling asbestos fibers. When damaged in battle or just in the course of routine maintenance and repair, asbestos-containing material becomes “friable”. This means that individual fibers can enter the air, where they can be breathed in by workers.

Anyone who served or worked aboard Adams, including civilian dock or shipyard workers, may have been exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. This could put them at risk for developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-739.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd739txt.htm

NavSource Naval History. USS Adams (DD-739).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/739.htm

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