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USS Beale (DD-471)

The USS Beale (DD-471) was the second ship to be named for Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a naval officer, frontiersman and minister to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Construction

Beale was launched on August 24, 1942 by the Bethlehem Steel Company of Staten Island, New York, and was commissioned on December 23, 1942, with Commander J. B. Cockran as her first captain. She carried the standard armament of five 5” guns and eight antiaircraft guns. The ship’s top speed was 38 knots, she had a maximum range of 6500 nautical miles, and carried a crew of 273 officers and enlisted men.

Naval History

Beale first saw combat action when she bombarded Kiska in August 1943. The ship then headed to New Guinea and shot down a kamikaze on December 26 of that year.

Beale stayed busy in 1944, starting with gunfire support of the Admiralty Island invasion in February, bombardment of Hauwei Island, Moakareng Peninsula and Wewak in March, and Humboldt Bay in April.

Beale and her sister ships fended off Japan’s Operation Kon off of Biak in June. The Japanese attempted to reinforce their position on the island but Beale detected the enemy ships on radar 80 minutes before their arrival. The Japanese ditched their barges when confronted and fired two torpedo barrages, but the Americans were unharmed and charged after them at high speed.

Beale bombarded Noemfoor with little resistance in July, and then turned her guns to Cape Sansapoor in August. She assisted with the invasion of the Moluccas in September and unsuccessfully tried to shoot down two kamikazes that later hit sister ships off Leyte in October.

Beale went stateside for repairs and training, and arrived back in Okinawa in April 1945. Her crew assisted Newcomb when she was hit by four kamikazes and helped to save the ship. She was patrolling the Okinawa area when Japan surrendered in August. The ship spent the next few months on escort and demilitarization duties before entering the Charleston Navy Yard. She was decommissioned on April 11, 1946 and mothballed for the next six years.

Beale, converted to an escort destroyer and given the new designation DDE-471, was recommissioned on November 1, 1951. She mostly patrolled the North Atlantic and Mediterranean for nearly 11 years. Beale’s designation was changed back to DD-471 in June 1962, and she participated in the quarantine of Cuba later that year.

Beale entered the combat zone for the last time in July 1966 when she took part in the “gunline” off of Vietnam and screened the carrier Intrepid. She left the combat zone forever in early November. The inspection board at Norfolk recommended that she be retired in September 1968, and she was decommissioned for good on September 30, 1968. Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on October 1, 1968, she performed her final service when she was sunk as a training exercise 250 miles off of Chesapeake Bay on June 24, 1969.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Beale (DD-471)

Factories and builders began employing asbestos fibers late in the 19th century because it was well suited for construction and manufacturing applications. By the 1930s, asbestos was also the go-to material for maritime insulation and fireproofing. The U.S. Navy made heavy use of the mineral in the ships that were constructed for World War II, including Beale. The incidence of mesothelioma cancer is strongly associated with the overall quantity of exposure to asbestos and the total time spent exposed. Navy veterans are amongst those most likely to develop the disease, because asbestos was abundant on ships, and there was no place on board that was completely free of contamination.

Sources
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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