The USS Ammen (DD-527) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly two decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Daniel Ammen who served in the Civil War and was also the chief of the Bureau of Navigation. Ammen was designed as a Fletcher-class vessel.
Ammen was laid down at San Francisco, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in November 1941, launched in September 1942, and commissioned in March 1943 with Commander John C. Daniel in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Ammen had a cruising speed of 38 knots and was armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Ammen began her service in the Pacific on a voyage to Alaska with Task Force 51, which involved troop landings on Attu Island and anti-submarine and anti-aircraft duties. A convoy escort mission to Adak, Alaska followed, and Ammen patrolled the Aleutian Islands in October and November 1943. In late November, Ammen sailed for the southwest Pacific and joined the 7th Fleet at New Guinea, and remained there until visiting Sydney Australia in February 1944.
Ammen returned to New Guinea later in the month, and operated during hostilities at Los Negros Island. She also provided anti-submarine and anti-aircraft protection during the assault at Tanamerah Bay. Ammen participated in various offensives around New Guinea, including the seizure of Noemfoor and troop landings at Cape Sansapor, and was then assigned to screen an invasion force at Leyte Gulf in September and October.
Ammen was hit by a twin-engine Japanese bomber in November, resulting in five deaths, but continued on and returned to the United States via the Admiralty Islands. Repaired at Mare Island Navy Shipyard in January 1945, Ammen set sail in February, conducted training and escort missions out of Pearl Harbor, and protected troop and cargo ships during preparations for the invasion of Okinawa. During this deployment, Ammen also operated as a radar picket and endured attacks by kamikaze aircraft.
Out of commission from April 1946 to April 1951, Ammen returned to the Far East during the Korean War, and returned to the area to serve on the Taiwan Strait Patrol in April 1957. Following overhaul at San Francisco in February 1959, Ammen served one more tour of the western Pacific and on the return trip to San Diego, collided with USS Collett, resulting in 11 deaths. She was decommissioned in September 1960 and sold for scrap to the National Metal & Steel Corporation in April 1961.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Ammen (DD-527)
Although asbestos has been used since ancient times, in the 19th and 20th centuries it found extensive use in factory and workplace settings. Beginning in the early 20th century, it also was widely used in shipbuilding, as asbestos is an excellent insulator and is completely fireproof. The U.S. Navy installed asbestos throughout hundreds of vessels, including the Ammen, especially in the engine room, boiler room, and power plant areas of the ship.
Asbestos-containing materials that become damaged, whether by fire, in combat, or simply as a result of routine maintenance or refit operations, have a tendency to become “friable”. This means that individual asbestos fibers come loose from the main body of material, entering the air. These fibers can then be breathed in or swallowed by crewmen or dock workers, which puts those workers at serious risk for developing mesothelioma.
Ammen was damaged in combat during the war and also experienced a number of extensive refits and renovations. Most crewmembers and repair workers on Ammen were thus probably at risk for some asbestos exposure. If you or a family member served or worked aboard Ammen and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we have created an information packet to assist you. The packet contains useful information about asbestos, mesothelioma, and the legal options that may be available to you. To receive your free packet, just fill in the web form on this page and we will send your kit right away, at no charge to you.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-527.
NavSource Naval History, USS Ammen (DD-527).