The USS Black (DD-666) served in the U.S. Navy for more than 25 years in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Commander Hugh David Black who commanded the destroyer USS Benson during World War II. Black was laid down as a Fletcher-class naval destroyer.
Black was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in November 1942, launched in March 1943, and commissioned in May with Lieutenant Commander J. Maginnis in command. Harboring a crew of 273, Black was armed with four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Black began her wartime service out of Pearl Harbor in mid-November 1943, and conducted screening duty off the entrance to Tarawa Lagoon until January 1944. During this deployment, Black served as an escort for troop transports to the 180th meridian, and also made her mark by rescuing 22 survivors from two patrol aircraft that went down south of Jaluit. Black engaged in combat for the first time at Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands at the end of January.
Black also served during the troop landings at Aitape and Hollandia, New Guinea in April and May, the Saipan invasion in June and July, as well as at Guam and Leyte. Following the Leyte operation, Black underwent repairs at San Francisco, California until February 1945, and then reported to Task Force 58 at Ulithi in March. Black supported combat operations at Okinawa with the 5th and 3rd Fleet, from March through May, and then participated in the final operations against Japan before the war ended.
Black departed for Korea in September following occupation duty off Japan. In November, she sailed back to the United States and was placed out of commission, in reserve from August 1946 to July 1951 at Long Beach, California. Black then served in the Atlantic, and was deployed for duty off Korea from March to June 1953. Operating off the east coast until January 1955, Black was then deployed with the Pacific Fleet and, after two more tours of the western Pacific, participated in fleet exercises along the west coast. Black was decommissioned in September 1969 and sold for scrap to Chou’s Iron & Steel Company in February 1971.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Black (DD-666)
Asbestos insulation has been employed in factory and industrial environments ever since the Industrial Revolution, and has been used in the construction of both naval and merchant vessels like Black since the 1930s. Ships have a number of pieces of equipment which produce extreme levels of thermal energy, such as engines and turbines. The engine and power areas aboard Black employed asbestos-containing materials in large quantities to insulate pipes, to protect steam boilers, and to cover parts of the ship's motors or steam turbines.
Most of the crew serving or working on the USS Black were likely to have been exposed to asbestos-containing materials. Some crewmen, however, may have suffered from higher levels of asbestos exposure because of the duties they performed. These include mechanics working in the engine rooms, firemen who were responsible for fire control and repairmen who handled battle damage. Asbestos that is cut, worn or damaged can become brittle. In that state, tiny fibers can become loose and enter the air. Those working in the areas where this occurs, like boilermen working in the boiler rooms on the USS Black, are at risk for breathing in the fibers. Over time, asbestos that becomes lodged in the lungs can develop into the asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-666. http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd666txt.htm
NavSource Naval History. USS Black (DD-666).