The USS Breckinridge (DD-148) served in the US Navy for more than two-and-a-half decades in the early 20th century, and received one battle star for her service in World War II. She was named for Ensign Joseph Cabell Breckinridge who served in the US Navy in the Spanish-American War. Breckinridge was built as a vessel of the Wickes class.
Breckinridge was laid down in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company in March 1918, launched in August, and commissioned in February 1919 with Commander A.L. Bristol in command. Carrying a crew of 103, Breckinridge was 314 feet, five inches long and was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, two anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Breckinridge was assigned to the Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet and operated off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and then assisted in developing and testing sonar equipment along the east coast until decommissioned at Philadelphia in June 1922. In May 1930, Breckinridge was re-commissioned and operated along the east coast until late 1932, when she was assigned to the Scouting Force from Alaska to Pearl Harbor. Breckinridge returned to the east coast in May 1936 and served with Training Squadron 10, and then put on reserve in Philadelphia from September 1936 to September 1939. In December 1940, Breckinridge was assigned to the Neutrality Patrol.
In May 1941, Breckinridge began patrol duty and underwater experiments at Key West, Florida. She was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet in December 1943 and conducted anti-submarine operations in January 1944. Overhauled in Boston in February, Breckinridge was deployed to escort duty out of Norfolk, Virginia, to the Mediterranean. The convoy was attacked by German planes in April, damaging Hollder but not Breckinridge.
Breckinridge operated with Commander, Caribbean Sea Frontier in May 1944 and was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, and returned to the Atlantic Fleet in February 1945. In February and March, Breckinridge was overhauled at Boston Navy Yard and then served as flagship of Destroyer Division 54 in New London, Connecticut.
Breckinridge was converted in Bayonne, New Jersey, and reclassified as miscellaneous auxiliary ship AG-112, and then served as a plane guard and escort vessel as part of Commander, Carrier Division 12, in August 1945. She was decommissioned in November 1945 and sold for scrap in October 1946.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Breckinridge (DD-148)
Installing asbestos insulation in the construction of oceangoing vessels was ordered by Congress in the early 1930s, after a fire at sea on the SS Morro Castle killed 137 people. Breckinridge utilized asbestos-containing materials heavily, especially in engines and engine compartments, as well as to insulate steam pipes all over the ship. Asbestos has been known for centuries for its resistance to fire and heat, but it has also been proven to be the only known cause of such debilitating diseases including pleural plaques and mesothelioma.
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Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-148. (http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd148txt.htm) Retrieved 23 December 2010.
NavSource Naval History, USS Breckinridge (DD-148).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/148.htm) Retrieved 23 December 2010.