The USS Brinkley Bass (DD-887) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Commander Harry Brinkley Bass who served as a naval aviator on Lexington during the Second World War. Brinkley Bass was a member of the Gearing class of destroyers.
Brinkley Bass was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in December 1944, launched in May 1945, and commissioned in October with Commander Philip W. Winston in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Brinkley Bass was 390 feet, six inches long with a weapons complement of 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
The Gearing-class destroyer sailed to San Diego, California in February 1946 following shakedown training in the Caribbean. Brinkley Bass was then deployed to Pearl Harbor and then Shanghai, China with Commander, Naval Forces, Western Pacific. In the spring of 1946, Brinkley Bass operated as a mail ship between Shanghai, Tsingtao, and Hong Kong, and then returned to San Diego in February 1947 for training exercises and overhaul.
Brinkley Bass served in the Far East from February 1948 to October, operated at San Diego in the winter, and returned to the western Pacific in November 1949 for training operations and patrol duty in the Tsushima Strait. In November 1950, Brinkley Bass was deployed during the Korean War, and participated in many bombardments. She was struck by enemy fire in May 1951, resulting in one casualty and nine wounded, and proceeded back to the United States in July. Brinkley Bass was honored with seven battle stars for her service in the Korean War.
Deployed to the Far East from January to August 1952 and April 1953 to January 1954, Brinkley Bass conducted three more voyages to the western Pacific prior to 1957. Brinkley Bass underwent a modernization overhaul in 1962 and remained in commission until December 1973. The destroyer was then transferred to Brazil, renamed Mariz e Barros, and was decommissioned by Brazil in September 1997 for use as a training vessel. The former Brinkley Bass was later designated to be used as a surface target.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Brinkley Bass (DD-887)
Most servicemen assigned to or doing repairs on the USS Brinkley Bass were likely exposed to asbestos fibers while working on the ship. Breathing or ingesting asbestos fibers can lead to the development of malignant mesothelioma. Asbestos insulation that was damaged by enemy action, as when Brinkley Bass took fire during the Korean War, was especially dangerous because the material, in its damaged state, released tiny fibers into the air, making it easy for them to be inhaled. Repair and shipyard servicemen were also at risk of being exposed to asbestos fibers at higher levels.
Other sailors were also at risk of asbestos contamination; those stationed in the engine room, handling machinery, dealing with fire suppression, or dealing with battle damage were more likely to inhale asbestos. The engine and power plant rooms on Brinkley Bass used asbestos-containing materials widely as insulation for steam pipes, to line steam boilers, and to protect components of the ship's engines or power plant. Steam ducts sheathed in asbestos-based insulation ran into essentially every area of the vessel.
The incidence of malignant mesothelioma is strongly correlated to the overall quantity of exposure to asbestos and also to the total time spent exposed. If you were stationed on the USS Brinkley Bass and worked in one of the high asbestos threat occupations you could be at risk of developing this asbestos cancer.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-887.
NavSource Naval History. Brinkley Bass (DD-887).