Resources for Patients and their Families

USS Belknap (DD-251)

USS Belknap (DD-251)

The USS Belknap (DD-251) served in the US Navy for more than two-and-a-half decades in the 20th century, and received three battle stars for her service in World War II. She was named for Rear Admiral George Eugene Belknap who participated in the attacks on Fort Fisher, North Carolina during the Civil War. Belknap was built as a Clemson-class vessel.


Belknap was laid down in Quincy, Massachusetts by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in July 1918, launched in January 1919, and commissioned in April with Lieutenant Commander S. Gassee in command. Carrying a crew of 114, Belknap was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, one three-inch anti-aircraft gun, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Naval History

Belknap was deployed with the United States Naval Forces, Eastern Mediterranean, and then served with Division 28, Atlantic Fleet, before being put on reserve at Charleston Navy Yard in 1920. Decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard from June 1922 until 1940, Belknap was converted into seaplane tender AVD-8 when re-commissioned. She was assigned to Patrol Wing 5 in Bermuda and then operated out of Newport, Rhode Island beginning in early 1941, where she voyaged to both Newfoundland and Iceland.

Belknap was overhauled at Charleston Navy Yard from August 1942 to January 1943 and then was assigned to patrol duty in the Caribbean until January 1944. She conducted anti-submarine operations with hunter-killer group TG 21.12 in the Atlantic, after being reclassified DD-251 in November 1943, and was honored with the Presidential Unit Citation for this service. She was converted to high-speed transport APD-34 in June 1944.

Belknap was deployed to the Pacific in September, and operated as a screen ship during the invasion of Leyte, Philippines and as a shore bombardment and beach reconnaissance vessel during the troop landings at Lingayen Gulf. In January 1945, Belknap was struck by a Japanese kamikaze plane after trying to shoot it down, and then was repaired at Lingayen until Hidatsa towed her to Manus in the Admiralty Islands. Belknap returned to Philadelphia Navy Yard that June after being repaired, was decommissioned in August, and sold for scrap in November.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Belknap (DD-251)

Installing asbestos fireproofing in the design of naval vessels was required by the US Congress in the 1930s, after a fire at sea on a cruise ship killed more than 100 people. Belknap, like most Navy ships at the time, made use of asbestos heavily around engines and engine compartments, as well as for fireproofing in all parts of the vessel. Once asbestos is inhaled, microscopic fibers lodge in the mesothelium, a narrow body of cells that surrounds and protects the interior organs and in time inflammation from the fibers may lead to mesothelioma cancer.

As of this writing, medical science has not developed a mesothelioma cure, but there are a number of palliative approaches, like mesothelioma chemotherapy, which increase survival time and make victims more comfortable. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, be advised that there may be legal avenues to pursue that will provide compensation for your injury. A good mesothelioma lawyer can counsel you about your options and steps in the litigation process. Because accurate information on malignant mesothelioma isn't always easy to find we've published a mesothelioma information package that contains information about legal options and treatment resources, along with a list of mesothelioma clinics nationwide. All you have to do is fill in the form on this page and we'll send you your free kit.



Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-251. Retrieved 30 December 2010.

NavSource Naval History, USS Belknap (DD-251). Retrieved 30 December 2010.

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog


January 20, 2017
Emily Walsh

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“Mesothelioma is a disease that comes with a grim outlook with only an average of 8% of patients who survive five years after their diagnosis. Because it has such a poor prognosis, a big part of treating mesothelioma – or any form of cancer, really – includes addressing mental impact it has on patients and their family members.”