The USS Babbitt (CV-128) served in the US Navy for nearly three decades in the early 20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Fitz Henry Babbitt who served in the War of 1812 and was killed in action aboard President in January 1815. Babbitt was built as a vessel of the Wickes class.
Babbitt was laid down in Camden, New Jersey by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation in February 1918, launched in September, and commissioned in October 1919, with Commander W.W. Eberle in command. Carrying a crew of 101, Babbitt was 314 feet, five inches long and was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, two three-inch anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Babbitt operated with the Pacific Fleet beginning in 1919 until June 1922 when she was decommissioned at San Diego. Reactivated in April 1930, Babbitt served along the west coast until being deployed to the Atlantic in February 1931. During this deployment, Babbitt operated with the Destroyer Squadron, Scouting Force, along the eastern seaboard of the United States, and sailed to the Gulf of Mexico, the West Indies, and the Panama Canal Zone. She served at the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, Rhode Island from May 1932 to April 1933, and with Rotating Reserve Squadron 19 at Norfolk, Virginia in from May to October 1933.
Babbitt operated on reduced commission status from October 1933 until May 1935 and served with the Midshipmen’s Coastal Cruise Detachment and then the Special Service Squadron in the waters near Cuba and Puerto Rico. She participated in the opening of the New York World’s Fair in April 1939, and then served with Destroyer Squadron 27 Patrol Force and conducted neutrality patrol in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
During World War II, Babbitt was assigned to escort duty off Iceland as well as along the east coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean, and also conducted escort crossings of the Atlantic on five occasions between March 1943 and March 1944. Babbitt conducted experimental sonar work at the Underwater Sound Laboratory in New London, Connecticut in February 1945, and was reclassified as AG-102 in June. She continued this duty until December, and received pre-inactivation overhaul at New York Navy Yard in December 1945. Babbitt was decommissioned in January 1946 and sold for scrap in June.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Babbitt (DD-128)
Using asbestos fireproofing in the design of marine vessels was mandated by Congress in the early 1930s, after a fire at sea on the SS Morro Castle resulted in great loss of life. Navy ships like Babbitt utilized asbestos in large amounts, especially in boilers and engine spaces, as well as to insulate steam pipes in the other sections of the vessel. If asbestos becomes worn it can become friable, meaning that the fibers can break off and enter the atmosphere, where they are breathed in by sailors or repair workers, increasing the chances of contracting mesothelioma. The mineral asbestos has long been known for its fireproofing properties, but it has also been shown to be the primary cause of such serious illnesses such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.
At the present time, doctors have not yet found a mesothelioma cure, but there are a number of palliative approaches which enhance the mesothelioma survival rate and make patients more comfortable, such as mesothelioma surgery. As malignant mesothelioma is a very uncommon disease, it is important to seek out only the top mesothelioma experts who specialize in the treatment of mesothelioma.
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Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-128 (http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd128txt.htm) Retrieved 21 December 2010
NavSource Naval History, USS Babbitt (DD-128).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/128.htm) Retrieved 21 December 2010