The USS Basilone (DD-824) served in the US Navy for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for John Basilone, the only United States Marine to receive a Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, and a Purple Heart in World War II. Basilone was built to the specifications of the Gearing class of naval destroyers.
Basilone was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in July 1945 and launched in December. Converted to escort destroyer DDE-824 in January 1948 at Quincy, Massachusetts, Basilone was commissioned in July 1949 with Commander Mark E. Dennet in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Basilone was 390 feet six inches long and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, and eleven 20 mm anti-aircraft guns.
Basilone was assigned to Destroyer Force, Atlantic upon commissioning. Based out of Norfolk, Virginia, Basilone conducted routine fleet operations and exercises there. Basilone served with the Operational Development Force, Surface Anti-Submarine Development Detachment, and also worked with the Fleet Sonar School at Key West, Florida as a school ship. In the summer, Basilone was assigned to anti-submarine exercises in the Caribbean.
Basilone conducted four tours of duty in the Mediterranean from March 1952 to September 1954. In 1955, Basilone served as part of a midshipman training cruise to Spain, England, and Cuba, during which she rescued an ill sailor aboard a civilian freighter and delivered him to USS Iowa for emergency surgery. Basilone ran aground for a week following a storm off Virginia, and was then repaired at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She was back to training duties in the summer of 1956.
Basilone served in the Mediterranean during the Suez Crisis, during the crisis in Lebanon in 1958, and as part of the recovery team during the Mercury Space Program in 1962. The destroyer received an FRAM I conversion at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in 1963 and then alternated between training duties, anti-submarine operations, and Mediterranean deployments.
In 1973, two boilers aboard Basilone exploded, which was followed by a scheduled conversion to a Navy Distillate Fuel System at Boston. Deployments to the Mediterranean and the Caribbean followed throughout the 1970s. Basilone was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in November 1977, and then sunk during training exercises off Florida in 1982.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Basilone (DD-824)
Many servicemen stationed or doing repairs on the USS Basilone may have been exposed to asbestos-containing materials. While there were many functions performed by service personnel on the ship, there are specific jobs for which asbestos exposure was more likely. They included occupations in the engineering sections of the ship, like boilermen and engine mechanics, and those that involved fire suppression or damage control. Repair and shipyard personnel, whether working on a brand-new vessel or refitting or repairing an existing ship, were also at risk of being extensively exposed to asbestos at dangerous levels.
Asbestos is known to cause a serious asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma. It is a cancer that can affect the lungs, heart or abdomen and it does not generally carry a very favorable prognosis. For this reason, early diagnosis and treatment is essential.
If you are a navy veteran who spent time on the USS Basilone and have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease like mesothelioma, please fill out the form on this page to request more information.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-824.
NavSource Naval History. Basilone (DD-824).
USS Basilone DDE/DD824, A Brief History of the United States Ship Basilone.