The USS Ault (DD-698) served in the US Navy for nearly three decades during the middle of the 20th century. She was named for William Bowen Ault, a US Navy officer during the first half of the 20th century. Ault was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class ship.
Ault was laid down in Kearny, New Jersey by Federal Shipbuilding in November 1943. She was launched in March 1944 and commissioned in May 1944, with Commander Joseph C. Wylie at the helm. Ault carried a crew of 336 and offered a cruising speed of 36.5 knots. She was armed with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Ault began her service in the Pacific. She arrived in time to join strikes on Luzon and Formosa in the first weeks of 1945. In February, she supported the strikes on Iwo Jima, and the month of March included raids on Tokyo and Okinawa. Following the Japanese capitulation in August, Ault entered Tokyo Bay for a period of patrol. She returned to the US in January 1946.
The peaceful years that followed included various training operations and cruises to the Mediterranean. Ault was decommissioned and placed in reserve in 1950—but not for long. As tensions mounted in Korea, the ship was quickly recommissioned near the end of the year. In December 1953, she rejoined the Pacific fleet. It was during training exercises in the Sea of Japan that month that Ault sustained her first injury: she collided with another American ship and was pulled from duty for a period of repair.
The following years found the ship calling at ports across the globe as part of a wide range of training, partnership, and good-will missions. Ault was overhauled as part of the fleet rehabilitation and modernization (FRAM) effort in 1962 and 1963, then returned to sea. Several years later, in 1967, Ault was again sent into a war zone—this time to Vietnam, where she provided gunfire support and plane-guard duties. She returned to the US by the end of 1967, again returning to a wide range of peacetime duties.
Ault was decommissioned for a second (and final) time in 1973. She was later sold and broken apart for scrap.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Ault (DD-698)
Most sailors assigned to or performing repair work on the Ault were exposed to asbestos-containing materials. Certain jobs carried a higher risk of exposure, however. Crewmembers stationed in engineering sections, handling machinery, dealing with fire, or in damage control parties were considerably more likely to inhale asbestos. Also at risk were dockyard and shipyard crew building, servicing, or refitting the USS Ault.
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that is only known to be caused by asbestos exposure. Navy veterans and shipbuilders that were diagnosed with this or another asbestos disease after serving aboard the Ault may have a legal right to compensation for their injury. To receive a free information packet about the dangers of asbestos exposure, mesothelioma, and your legal options, please complete the form on this page.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-698.
NavSource Naval History, USS Ault (DD-698).