The USS Brown (DD-546) served in the U.S. Navy for two decades in the mid-20th century, and was later transferred to Greece. She was named for George Brown who served in the First Barbary War. Brown was laid down as a Fletcher-class destroyer.
Brown was laid down at San Pedro, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in June 1942, launched in February 1943, and commissioned in July with Lieutenant Commander T.H. Copeman in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Brown was 376 feet five inches long and 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.
Brown commenced service in World War II after leaving Pearl Harbor in November 1943 with Task Force 50. The destroyer served primarily as an aircraft carrier screen during the Gilbert Islands invasion in November and December, the New Ireland Raids in December 1943 and January 1944, as well as during the raids on the Marshall Islands in January and February. Brown operated during several other key offensives, such as Hollandia in April, the Truk raid, the assault on Wake Island in May, and the strikes on Saipan in June. She also rescued several American pilots during the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
In July, Brown participated in the bombardment of Iwo Jima, supported aircraft carriers during raids on Okinawa and Luzon in October, and served during the Battle for Leyte Gulf in October. In December, Brown was assigned to duty during raids throughout the Philippines, during which the capture of Mindoro Island was accomplished.
Brown rescued survivors of USS Hull and USS Monaghan following a typhoon in December, and was then overhauled at Seattle, Washington. Repairs were completed by March 1945, and Brown was deployed to Okinawa during the April through June operation, for service as a radar picket vessel. For this duty, Brown received the Navy Unit Commendation.
Brown operated with occupation forces until October 1946, and was decommissioned and placed in reserve at San Diego in August. She was re-commissioned in October 1950 and assigned to Commander, Naval Forces, Far East, in March 1951 during the Korean War. Brown made several tours of the region and was decommissioned and transferred to Greece as Navarino in February 1962. The destroyer was stricken from the Navy list in 1975 and used for scrap by Greece in 1981.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Brown (DD-546)
Most servicemen tasked with repair work on the USS Brown were likely to be exposed to asbestos-containing while fulfilling their term of service. Some sailors risked a higher level of asbestos exposure, such as crew members stationed in the engineering sections, handling machinery, dealing with fire, or conducting repairs. On the USS Brown, asbestos was present in most compartments, both in the built-in insulation and also wrapped around steam pipes.
Repair and shipyard civilian workers were also exposed to asbestos in dangerous quantities. The family members of dockyard and shipyard crewmen were often exposed to asbestos contamination as well, because the clothes worn by repair and maintenance personnel on the job carried asbestos home on them. Breathing or swallowing individual asbestos fibers is strongly linked to the development of both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.
Individuals who worked regularly with frayed or damaged asbestos-based insulation over an extensive time period have a much higher risk of developing mesothelioma than crewmen who had mild levels of exposure over a similar amount of time. Working with friable asbestos or damaged machinery exposed Brown's crew and yard workers to much higher quantities of asbestos than levels encountered routinely. Since being exposed to asbestos is currently the only known cause of malignant mesothelioma there are legal options available for servicemen who have contracted an asbestos-related disease.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-546.
NavSource Naval History, USS Brown (DD-546).