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USS Bigelow (DD-942)

The USS Bigelow (DD-942) was commissioned by the US Navy for over two-and-a-half decades in the mid-to-late-20th century. She was named for Water Tender Second Class Elmer Charles Bigelow, who was noted for his bravery aboard USS Fletcher in the Philippines during the Second World War. Bigelow was constructed to Forrest Sherman class specifications.


Bigelow was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in July 1955, launched in February 1957, and commissioned in November with Commander Audley H. McCain in command. Featuring a crew capacity of 324, Bigelow was 418 feet six inches in length and armed with four three-inch rapid fire guns, two anti-submarine mortars, four 21-inch torpedo tubes, and six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes.

Naval History

Bigelow served as the flagship of the South Atlantic Forces in September 1958, and during this time, visited 15 different African ports. The destroyer was later assigned to be flagship of Destroyer Squadron 6, and sailed to the Mediterranean in March 1959 and in 1960. In 1962, Bigelow returned there and also operated in the Middle East. She then sailed for Mayport, Florida and joined the quarantine forces off Cuba in October. Bigelow served in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea in the fall of 1963, and was part of the Gemini III recovery team in 1965.

Bigelow was deployed to Vietnam in February 1967, which was to be her first combat operation, until August. The destroyer spent much of early-1971 in the Mediterranean and also participated in exercises north of Scotland. Bigelow then returned to Mayport, and operated in the Caribbean and with NATO forces in the North Atlantic in 1972.

From November 1974 to June 1975, Bigelow operated in the Mediterranean, and returned there in September. Following this deployment, Bigelow served as a school ship at Newport, Rhode Island until 1976. Bigelow then received an upgrade to her weapons system and was deployed to Cuba in 1977. Later overseas deployments included the Mediterranean in 1978 and the Middle East in 1981. Bigelow remained in commission until November 1983, and was struck from the Navy list in June 1990. The destroyer was sold for scrap in 1993, repossessed in 1996, and then sunk during a training exercise in 2003.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Bigelow (DD-942)

When the USS Bigelow was under construction in 1955, asbestos was used extensively as an insulating material in a variety of applications. This material was most heavily concentrated in areas that housed the ship's boilers and engines but it was also present in other compartments such as the mess halls and bunk rooms. Pumps and pipe fittings also contained asbestos insulation, gaskets, valves and cement. As a result, those serving on the USS Bigelow may have been exposed to fairly large quantities of asbestos while on the ship.

Asbestos is most harmful when it is airborne. This occurs when the material is cut, damaged, replaced or installed and happens more easily when it becomes aged. When the tiny particles of asbestos dust are released into the air they can breathed in by those working with it or near those who are. When inhaled, the fibers get lodged in the tissue surrounding the lungs and can, over time, develop into mesothelioma. If you or a loved one developed an asbestos disease after serving on the USS Bigelow, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation for your injury.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-942.

NavSource Naval History. USS Bigelow (DD-942).

Facebook. USS Bigelow (DD-942) crew members. News.