The USS Blue (DD-744) served in the U.S. Navy for three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Victor Blue who served during the Spanish-American War. Blue was laid down as an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer.
Blue was laid down at Staten Island, New York by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in June 1943, launched in November, and commissioned in March 1944 with Commander L. Ensey in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Blue was armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
Blue began her wartime service as a protective screen for aircraft carriers out of Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands in July 1944. She was present for the raids in the southern Palaus in September and October, and then the raids in the Philippine Islands. Blue also participated in the raids on Luzon from November 1944 through January 1945, and was at Iwo Jima in February and March and Okinawa in March and June. Damaged by a typhoon in June, Blue returned to service for attacks on the Japanese home islands in the summer.
Anchored at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan in September, Blue arrived at San Francisco in October 1945, before being overhauled at the Puget Sound Navy Yard. Blue was assigned to Destroyer Division 92, 7th Fleet in January 1946 and participated in fleet exercises in the western Pacific. She was then placed in reserve at San Diego from December 1949 until September 1950. Blue sailed for Japan in early 1951 and operated both there and off Korea, returning to San Francisco later in the year for overhaul.
Blue resumed combat duties off Korea in April 1952 and then conducted patrols and gunfire support in September and October. She then returned to the United States for overhaul and training exercises off California. From June 1952 until December 1953, Blue was on deployment for screening duty off Japan and patrols of Formosa, as well as Korea. Blue was then assigned to routine duties at home and regular tours of the Far East. She completed an FRAM upgrade in January 1961 and was decommissioned in January 1971, struck from the Navy list in February 1974, and sunk during training exercises in April 1977.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Blue (DD-744)
Most servicemen assigned to or performing repair work on the USS Blue were probably exposed to asbestos fibers and some, more so, than others. For example, crew members stationed in the engineering sections of the ship, handling machinery, dealing with fire suppression, or conducting repairs were considerably more likely to be exposed to asbestos containing materials. On the USS Blue asbestos was present in most compartments, both in insulation and wrapped around steam pipes.
Dockyard and shipyard servicemen were at risk of sustaining direct asbestos exposure on the job. Immediate family members of repair yard and shipbuilding personnel ran the risk of secondary asbestos exposure from the clothes worn home by these workers at the end of the day. Breathing and ingesting asbestos fibers can eventually lead to a serious form of cancer called mesothelioma.
Personnel working daily with frayed or damaged asbestos fibers over a long period of time have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma than crewmen who received mild levels of inhalation over a similar time period. Working with damaged asbestos insulation or damaged ship components exposed the Blue's crewmen and yard workers to much higher quantities of asbestos than the amounts that may have been encountered in the normal course of duty. Because exposure to asbestos fiber is currently the only origin of mesothelioma and asbestos-related conditions, there are usually legal options available for naval personnel and civilian workers who have developed these conditions.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-744.
NavSource Naval History. USS Blue (DD-744).