The USS Bennett (DD-473) was named for naval aviator Floyd Bennett, who flew with Robert C. Byrd to the North Pole in 1926 and earned a Medal of Honor.
Bennett was one of the 175 Fletcher-class destroyers launched during World War II. Fletchers were the backbone of the Pacific fleet and were built to respond to the threat posed by the larger ships launched by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the 1930’s. Bennett was laid down at the Boston Naval Yard on 10 December, 1941, and was launched the following April. The ship was commissioned on 9 February, 1943 with Commander E. B. Taylor at her helm. She had a maximum speed of 38 knots and a maximum range of 6500 nautical miles, and a crew of 273 officers and enlisted men.
After her shakedown tour, Bennett sailed to Pearl Harbor in May 1943 and spent the next two months patrolling Hawaiian waters.
Bennett escorted a ship to Efate, New Hebrides, and then assumed patrol duties there. After spending about three months there, she took up patrol duties in the Solomons. There the “Dirty B” (or the “Battlin’ B” as she was known in more polite society) participated in the landings on Cape Torokina, Bougainville and Green Island, and bombarded Kavieng, New Ireland and Rabaul, New Britain when she wasn’t busy escorting shipping.
After being fired on by Japanese shore batteries in the Shortland Islands, Bennett took part in the invasions of Saipan, Guam and Palau. She had a brief overhaul at Hunters Point and returned to participate in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Along with Cassin Young, Bennett stood by Bush and Calhoun when those ships were lost on April 6, 1945. Low on ammunition, she still stood by the ships until she herself was hit by a kamikaze. Her forward engine room was hit, knocking out her electrical systems. Bennett lost seven men and fourteen more were injured. Bennett spent the rest of the war at the Puget Sound Naval Yard. She made only one more run to the Aleutians and made a short trip to Kamchatka with weather personnel before being placed in reserve in San Diego on December 21, 1945.
Bennett was decommissioned on April 18, 1946. She was sold to the Brazilian Navy and rechristened the CT Paraiba in 1959. The Brazilians finally scrapped her in 1978.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Bennett (DD-473)
Bennet was laden with asbestos products, with the highest concentration in engineering spaces and in pumps, engines, and boilers. Pipes that carried steam ran throughout the ship, and were covered in asbestos insulation sheets. The twisting pipes and variety of other applications for asbestos meant that the mineral contaminated nearly every compartment.
Inhalation of individual asbestos fibers can eventually lead to mesothelioma. Working around asbestos insulation damaged by enemy attacks exposed Bennett's crewmen and shipyard workers to higher levels of dangerous asbestos dust. Legal recourse is often available to those who have developed asbestos-related conditions.Sources
USS Bennett (DD-473), Fletcher-class Destroyer Home Page.
Destroyer Photo Index DD-473 USS Bennett.
Fletcher-class destroyers in World War II.