The USS Bradford (DD-545) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly two decades before being decommissioned and later sold to Greece. She was named for Captain Gamaliel Bradford who served in the Revolutionary War. Bradford was built as a Fletcher-class vessel.
Bradford was laid down at San Pedro, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in April 1942, launched in December, and commissioned in June 1943 with Commander R.L. Morris in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Bradford was 376 feet five inches long with a displacement of 2,924 tons. She was armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Bradford began overseas duty with deployment to Baker Island in August 1943, and served with aircraft carriers during the raid on Wake Island in October. As a screening unit for Task Group 52.3, Bradford aided in the occupation of the Gilbert Islands, and then participated in strikes at New Ireland in December 1943 and January 1944, with Task Group 37.2. Bradford was also deployed during operations at Kwajalein and Majouro Atolls.
In February, Bradford launched torpedoes and gunfire at enemy vessels during the Truck assault, and then served in the Mariana Islands. Bradford also served in the New Guinea occupation from April to June, the invasion of Saipan, and the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Following service during the Guam assault in July and August, Bradford returned to the United States for overhaul in September.
Bradford trained for fire support duty at Pearl Harbor in December, and was then deployed to Iwo Jima for the assault and occupation there in February 1945. She served as a screening and radar picket ship with Task Group 52.1 to support ground forces at Okinawa from March to July. In July and August, Bradford operated with the 3rd Fleet in Japan and supported minesweeping operations in the East China Sea. Bradford was placed in reserve at San Diego in July 1946.
Bradford, assigned to the Pacific Fleet when reactivated in October 1950, served three tours of the Far East during the Korean War. Decommissioned in September 1961, Bradford was stricken from the Navy list in September 1975, transferred to Greece in September 1962 as Thylla, and used for scrap in 1981.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Bradford (DD-545)
Asbestos has been used widely in industrial workplaces ever since the Industrial Revolution, and in the construction of military and civilian ships like the USS Bradford ever since the 1930s. Asbestos-containing material was employed almost universally in ships and in shore installations by the U.S. Navy until a ban in the late 1970s. The inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers may eventually lead to the development of malignant mesothelioma.
Exposure to asbestos is much more serious if the asbestos has been damaged and brittle so that the tiny fibers become airborne where they can be inhaled by those nearby. Certain jobs posed a greater threat of exposure to asbestos; engine mechanics working in the engine room or on pumps and firemen working in the boiler room are just some examples of high risk occupations on a navy ship. The development of mesothelioma is strongly correlated with the overall quantity of exposure to asbestos and also to the amount of time that exposure occurs for. Those serving on the USS Bradford may be at risk for developing mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure that they may have unknowingly experienced during their time on the ship.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-545.
NavSource Naval History, USS Bradford (DD-545).