The USS Alfred A. Cunningham (DD-752) served in the U.S. Navy for three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Alfred Austell Cunningham, a U.S. Marine Corps officer who was the first Marine Corps aviator and first Director of Marine Corps Aviation. Alfred A. Cunningham was commissioned as an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer.
Alfred A. Cunningham was laid down at Staten Island, New York by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in February 1944, launched in August, and commissioned in November with Commander Floyd B. T. Myhre in command. Carrying a crew of 336, she was 376 feet, six inches long and armed with eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Alfred A. Cunningham served as a training ship for destroyer crews at Norfolk, Virginia, then conducted gunnery exercises in Chesapeake Bay. She arrived at Pearl Harbor at the end of May 1945 and was deployed to the western Pacific in mid-June. Alfred A. Cunningham screened aircraft carriers at Wake Island and performed radar picket duty at Okinawa in late June, then performed patrol, escort, and screening operations in the area until the war ended. After conducting anti-smuggling patrol between Korea and Japan, Alfred A. Cunningham returned to the United States in March 1946 and was decommissioned in August 1949.
Alfred A. Cunningham was re-commissioned in October 1950 and reported to the western Pacific in January 1951. She was deployed to Korea until September, and then again from March 1952 until November. She was deployed again to the western Pacific in June, where she aided in the search and rescue effort for a downed Boeing RB-50 in the Sea of Japan and conducted anti-submarine exercises off Taiwan.
Alfred A. Cunningham underwent overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard from February through April 1954 and, after more Pacific deployments, received a FRAM overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard in 1961. In 1965, Alfred A. Cunningham patrolled the coast of Vietnam and engaged in combat there in 1966. The destroyer left Vietnam for the last time in March 1970, was put on reserve in February 1971, and then was struck from the Navy list in February 1974. Alfred A. Cunningham was sunk during weapons tests off California in October 1979.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Alfred A. Cunningham (DD-752)
During the late 1800s, the mineral asbestos came into wide use in industrial and construction applications. Asbestos was also widely used in ships because of its fireproofing and insulating qualities. U.S. Navy ships built and operated before 1979, including Alfred A. Cunningham, used asbestos widely. Asbestos is strongly linked to the development of malignant mesothelioma, and crewmen serving on Navy vessels are at risk to develop mesothelioma.
Asbestos is at its most dangerous when the material becomes damaged or destroyed, as the fibers become “friable”. This means that individual fibers can enter the air, where they are inhaled by sailors or workmen. The main asbestos risk aboard Alfred A. Cunningham was experienced by crew members and dock workers who cut insulation, repaired pipes, boilers, and turbines, or conducted refit operations. The larger the quantity of asbestos, and the longer the total exposure time, the greater the risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related conditions.
Crewmen, yard workers, and dock workers who served or worked aboard Alfred A. Cunningham and who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma should be aware that there are legal options available. Please fill out the form on this page to request more information about asbestos exposure and mesothelioma and your legal rights.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-752.
NavSource Naval History. USS Alfred A. Cunningham (DD-752).