The USS Bristol (DD-857) served in the U.S. Navy for two and a half decades during the middle of the 20th century. She was named for Mark Lambert Bristol, a U.S. Navy officer during the Spanish-American War. Bristol was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class ship.
Bristol was laid down in San Pedro, California by Bethlehem Steel in May 1944. She was launched in October 1944 and commissioned in March 1945, with Commander K.P. Letts at the helm. Bristol carried a crew of 336 and had a cruising speed of 36.5 knots. She was armed with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Following a standard training and shakedown period, Bristol began her service in the Pacific in June 1945, where she joined a logistics and support team. Less than two months after her arrival, however, she collided with another ship. Her bow was damaged, and she was forced to return to Guam for a period of repairs. She rejoined the fleet in September and remained in the Pacific until February 1946.
Upon her return to the U.S., Bristol joined the Atlantic fleet. In the years that followed, she operated along the east coast, called at ports in England, and toured European waters. In 1949, Bristol was re-designated as a reserve training ship. For the following year and a half, she was based in New Orleans and traveled throughout the Caribbean.
In 1951, Bristol was removed from training duty and again sailed the Atlantic, this time headed for the Mediterranean. Later in the year, she began her first around-the-world cruise, which included a stint supporting the effort in Korea from late 1951 through early 1952.
Bristol returned to the U.S. in April 1952 and began a period of operations along the east coast, in the Caribbean, and in the Mediterranean. After receiving one battle star for service in World War II and two battle stars for service in Korea, Bristol was eventually decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list in 1969. Later that year, she was transferred to the Navy of Taiwan, where she was renamed Hua Yang. The vessel was broken up and sold for scrap in 1993.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Bristol (DD-857)
Most of the crew assigned to or doing repairs on Bristol were probably exposed to asbestos-containing materials to some extent. Inhaling and ingesting asbestos fibers is linked to the development of the asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma. Asbestos insulation damaged in combat was particularly dangerous because it became friable, meaning the fibers were separated from the asbestos-containing material.
Also at risk for asbestos exposure were dock and shipyard workers. They were involved in ship refitting and repairs and, in performing those duties, were likely to disrupt insulation, leading to the release of fibers into the air. Refits in the engineering and power generation sections of the USS Bristol would have been particularly dangerous, as asbestos was used widely in these areas as insulation for pipes, to cover steam boilers, and to protect parts of the ship's engines and power plant. In addition, steam conduits sheathed in asbestos insulation ran into essentially every area of the craft. Most personnel serving or doing repairs on the USS Bristol were very likely to have suffered from asbestos exposure at one time or another.
Sailors who worked regularly with asbestos-containing material over many months or years have a much higher risk of developing mesothelioma than workers who experienced mild levels of inhalation over the same time frame. If you served on the USS Bristol and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma you may be interested in requesting our free information kit to learn more about the disease, treatment options and your legal rights.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-857. http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd857txt.htm) Retrieved 26 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History, USS Bristol (DD-857).