USS Branch (DD-197) was a Clemson-class destroyer constructed for the US Navy. She was the second naval vessel to be named in honor of John Branch, who was a US Senator, the Secretary of the Navy, the 19th Governor of North Carolina and the last of six territorial governors of Florida.
Branch was launched by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company on April 19, 1919. She was sponsored by Miss Laurie O'Brien Branch, the grandniece of Secretary Branch. Commander F.H. Roberts took command of Branch on July 26, 1920.
Following commissioning, Branch was fitted out of Norfolk Navy Yard. In October, she cruised to Annapolis, Maryland, where she was tested for her engineering performance. Following the testing period, Branch joined Destroyer Squadron 3, Atlantic Fleet. In 1921, Branch maneuvered with her squadron and engaged in tactical exercises along the Atlantic coast, though she periodically operated in reduced commission with only half of her crew.
On January 6, 1922, Branch operated in the Charleston, South Carolina area. She continued to serve in this capacity until August 11, 1922, at which time she was placed out of commission at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Branch remained there until she was recommissioned on December 4, 1939 and placed in service with the Scouting Force. While serving as the flagship of Destroyer Division 68, Branch participated in the Neutrality Patrol. The following summer, Branch operated along the east coast while also training reservists.
In October 1940, Branch departed for Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she was decommissioned on October 8. She was then transferred to the British Navy as part of the destroyers for bases agreement. At this time, she was renamed HMS Beverly (H64). As Beverly, the former Branch was modified to serve as a trade convoy escort. While escorting Convoy PQ 14 to North Russian, the convoy was attacked by a force of enemy destroyers. One merchant ship was sunk in the attack.
On February 4, 1943, the former Branch sighted the German submarine U-187, which was later sunk by HMS Vimy. The following day, the former Branch participated in attacks on other U-boats. After being assigned to Escort Group B-4, the former Branch was assigned to escort Convoy ON 176. While completing this duty, she collided with the steamship Cairnovolona. The collision took her antisubmarine and degaussing gear out of action. Two days later, she was sunk by U-188, resulting in the loss of her 139 member crew.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Branch (DD-197)
Using asbestos fireproofing in the construction of naval ships was required by law in the US in the 1930s, after a deadly fire on the SS Morro Castle killed 137 people. Branch made use of asbestos-containing materials heavily in boilers and engineering spaces, and for insulation in all parts of the vessel. If an asbestos-based product is worn or damaged it becomes friable, which means that fibers can break off and enter the atmosphere, allowing them to be breathed in by crewmen or repair workers, increasing the chances of contracting mesothelioma.
Unfortunately, the prognosis for mesothelioma cases is generally not positive - and mesothelioma disease sufferers usually only live for one to two years after the disease is detected. Because mesothelioma is not a common disease, not all facilities or health-care providers are equipped to specialize in the treatment of mesothelioma. Victims who have developed peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma also have a strong need for reliable information about mesothelioma and legal options that might be available to them. A professional mesothelioma lawyer can be a resource for that kind of information. We've also created a mesothelioma information package with complete information on legal and treatment options, as well as a list of mesothelioma clinics nationwide. All you have to do is submit the form on this page and we'll mail you the packet, at no charge.Sources
Branch. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center. (http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/b9/branch-i.htm) Retrieved 24 December 2010