The USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) served in the U.S. Navy for approximately two and a half decades at the end of the 20th century. She was named for Arthur William Radford, a U.S. Navy Admiral, Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Command, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the middle of the 20th century. Arthur W. Radford was built as a Spruance-class destroyer.
Arthur W. Radford was laid down in Pascagoula, Mississippi by Litton Ingalls in January 1974. She was launched in March 1975 and commissioned in April 1977. Arthur W. Radford carried a crew of 296 and had a cruising speed of 30 knots. She was armed with two five-inch 54 RFs, one Sea Sparrow missile, and six 12.75-inch MK 32s. She also carried a helicopter.
Arthur W. Radford began her tenure in the U.S. Navy in the Atlantic, where she spent her initial weeks at sea conducting gunnery and helicopter exercises off the coast of Virginia. During the weeks that followed, the vessel conducted training and surveillance operations near Florida (including a demonstration for President Jimmy Carter). On her way back to her home port, strong winds disabled a radar antenna and the ship ran off-course. Fortunately, she made it home safely.
Arthur W. Radford’s next assignment sent her to the West Indies for training operations and gunfire support. In 1978, she participated in NATO exercises in the North Atlantic. In 1979 she engaged on a Mediterranean cruise and conducted the rescue of a pleasure vessel off the coast of France.
The 1980s saw a range of activities for the destroyer, including general operations off the East Coast, training missions with various South American navies, and a multiple trips to Africa. Arthur W. Radford was part of the 1983 multi-national peace-keeping force in Beirut and the 1985 rescue of a Liberian tanker that was attacked and set on fire in the Persian Gulf. The 1990s were spent in much the same fashion, engaging in multiple training and peace-keeping missions with the U.S. Navy.
In 2003, Arthur W. Radford was decommissioned. As of this writing, she is scheduled to be sunk to create an artificial reef in May 2011 near Ocean City, New Jersey.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968)
Many of the crewmen stationed on Arthur W. Radford were likely exposed to asbestos-containing materials while serving on the ship. Certain jobs posed a greater risk of asbestos exposure than others. Those working in the engine room, fixing machinery, or in damage control parties were considerably more likely to be exposed to asbestos fibers.
Drydock and yard servicemen were also exposed extensively to asbestos fibers in dangerous quantities. Immediate family members of repair yard and shipyard personnel ran the risk of being exposed to asbestos-containing materials, through contamination of the fatigues and dungarees worn at the job site by the workers, then brought back home at the end of the day. Breathing and ingesting of asbestos fibers can lead to the development of mesothelioma.
Developing pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma is known to be strongly correlated to the quantity and duration of exposure to asbestos fibers. Handling of friable asbestos fibers or machinery damaged in battle exposed Arthur W. Radford's personnel and dock workers to potentially dangerous quantities of asbestos and may be at risk for developing mesothelioma.Sources