USS Bagley (DD-386) was the lead ship of her class. She was the third of four naval vessels to be named in honor of Ensign Worth Bagley, an officer during the Spanish-American War. Bagley was the only US naval officer to be killed in action during that particular war.
Bagley was laid down by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia on July 31, 1935. Launched on September 3, 1936, she was sponsored by Miss Bella Worth Bagley, who was the namesake’s sister. Lieutenant Commander Earl W. Morris took command of Bagley on June 12, 1937.
Following commissioning, Bagley served in the Atlantic before going to Pearl Harbor in 1940. She then rotated between Pearl Harbor and the California coast before beginning local operations out of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Shortly after, her starboard side bilge keel was torn loose while engaging in antiaircraft practice.
On the fateful morning of December 7, Bagley fired her .50-caliber machine guns at Japanese plane Nakajima B5N during the first phase of the Japanese attack. During the second phase, her crew fired on the Aichi D3A dive bombers that were attacking Ford Island. Soon afterward, Bagley headed for the open sea with Lieutenant Phillip W. Cann in temporary command.
In late December, Bagley sailed with aircraft carrier Saratoga as she patrolled the area west of Oahu. On January 11, 1942, Saratoga was damaged by a single torpedo from I-16. Bagley escorted the damaged ship back to Pearl Harbor, where she then underwent an upgrade to add four 20-millimeter machine guns to her battery. Bagley then joined TF 11 as the group covered transports that were delivering reinforcements to Canton Island, Christmas Island, Phoenix Island and New Caledonia. On February 20, Bagley opened fire on a wave of nine bombers and narrowly escaped a bomber’s attempt to crash into her stern.
After spending some time making deliveries, providing escort and patrolling areas outside of the harbor, Bagley was assigned to the Southwest Pacific Force, TF 44. In her new capacity, Bagley continued to protect convoys and to search for submarine contacts. On July 20, she began preparing for the invasion of Guadalcanal, known as Operation Watchtower, as part of the Southern Force. Bagley rescued about 400 survivors from warship Astoria, which had been heavily damaged, during the invasion. She later brought a salvage party to the wounded ship, but their efforts failed to prevent the ship from sinking.
On March 15, 1943, Bagley was reassigned to TF 74 as part of the 7th Fleet. She then sailed with 2,600 Army troops and equipment to Woodlark Island. She engaged in several more escort missions and successfully delivered several convoys to Milne Bay. Throughout the rest of 1943, Bagley continued to provide screening and escort duties in the New Guinea area. In February 1944, she returned to the west coast of the United States.
Upon entering Mare Island Navy Yard, Bagley underwent another overhaul, this time adding two more 20 millimeter guns, a twin 40 millimeter gun tube and an improved fire control radar. She then began training for the invasion of the Marianas, known as Operation Forager. Bagley went on to play a key role in the battle that took place at Saipan, having fired over 1,200 5-inch rounds of high explosives and over 1,000 rounds of 20-millimeter and 40-millimeter shells into the final wave of Japanese resistance.
In early January 1945, Bagley and her group of escort carriers were repeatedly attacked by Japanese kamikaze planes. Bagley narrowly escaped an attack from Nakiajima Ki-43, and the plane was shot down and splashed down about 1,000 yards from Bagley’s port beam.
Bagley was inactivated on May 2, 1946 in Pearl Harbor. She was decommissioned on June 13 of that same year and was struck from the Navy list on February 25, 1947. She was sold to the Moore Dry Dock Company in Oakland, California on September 8, 1947. Bagley earned 12 battle stars for her service during World War II.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Bagley (DD-386)
Installing asbestos-containing materials in the construction of naval vessels was mandated by law in the US in the 1930s, after a deadly fire aboard a luxury liner caused the deaths of 137 passengers and crew. Bagley installed asbestos extensively in boilers and engine spaces, and for fireproofing in all parts of the ship. When an asbestos-based product is damaged it becomes friable, which means that individual asbestos fibers can be broken off and enter the surrounding air, where they are inhaled or ingested by ship's crew or repair workers, potentially leading to the development of mesothelioma. Asbestos has been known for centuries for its insulation properties; however, it has also been proven to be the primary factor in the development of such serious conditions including asbestos cancer and mesothelioma.
As of this writing, medicine has not developed a cure for mesothelioma. There are, however, palliative treatments that help to increase survival time and make victims more comfortable, such as radiation for mesothelioma. Because mesothelioma is a relatively rare disease, not many clinics and physicians specialize in the treatment of mesothelioma.
People who have contracted mesothelioma may find it helpful to speak with a mesothelioma attorney about their legal rights. We have also created another information resource in our mesothelioma information kit. It is filled with with up-to-date information about patient’s legal options, treatment choices and a list of clinical trials nationwide. Just fill out the form on this page and we will mail you a free packet.Sources
Bagley. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center.
http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/b1/bagley-iii.htm Retrieved 1 January 2011.