The USS Benson (DD-421) served in the U.S. Navy for six years during the first half of the 20th century. She was named for William Shepherd Benson, who served with the U.S. Navy during World War I. Benson was built as a Benson-class ship.
Benson was laid down in Quincy, Pennsylvania by Bethlehem Steel in May 1938. She was launched in November 1939 and commissioned in July 1940, with Lieutenant Commander C.A. Fines at the helm. Benson carried a crew of 158 and offered a cruising speed of 36.5 knots. She was armed with five five-inch anti-aircraft guns, four half-inch machine guns, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Benson spent the beginning of her naval career patrolling along the east coast of the United States. In July 1941, she began escorting convoys to Iceland and Newfoundland. In Marcy 1942, her duties expanded to include convoys to Britain and North Africa. It was during one of these crossings in October 1942 when Benson received her first injury: she collided with another American vessel. The damage was severe, and she returned to New York for repairs.
In May 1943, Benson sailed to the Mediterranean. She participated in the invasion of Sicily (in which 18 men were wounded when a bomb very nearly missed the ship) and the landings at Salerno. She spent the remainder of 1943 escorting convoys throughout the Mediterranean before returning to New York for additional repairs and training.
In May 1944, Benson returned to the Mediterranean, where she participated in the invasion of southern France. She then spent the remainder of the year patrolling along the French and Italian coasts. In mid-1945, Benson transferred to the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor in May.
While in the Pacific, Benson screened air strikes against Wake Island and escorted convoys to and from Ulithi, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Japan. On December 7, 1945, Benson returned to Charleston Navy Yard in the US. She was decommissioned in March 1946 and, after receiving four battles stars for her service during World War II, was placed on reserve.
In Feburary 1954, Benson was transferred to Nationalist China, where she was renamed Lo Yang. In 1975, she was broken up and sold for scrap.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Benson (DD-421)
Asbestos was used in the construction of many Navy ships like the USS Benson. It was highly concentrated in high heat areas like the pump and engine rooms that needed fire-proofing. Those who were responsible for maintaining and repairing equipment in those areas like electricians, firemen and plumbers came into frequent contact with the material on a regular basis. This put them at serious risk of developing the asbestos disease known as mesothelioma.
If you were stationed on the USS Benson and have been diagnosed with the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, please fill out the form on the page to receive more information about the disease and asbestos exposure.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-421. http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd421txt.htm) Retrieved 15 January 2011.
NavSource Naval History, USS Benson (DD-421).