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USS Brownson (DD-868)

The USS Brownson (DD868) was a Gearing-class destroyer in the U.S. Navy and the second ship named in honor of Rear Admiral H. Brownson (1845-1935).


Built at Staten Island, New York, by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Brownson was launched in July 1945, and commissioned in November under the command of Commander R. Cox.

Naval History

Immediately following her east coast shakedown in the Atlantic and Caribbean, Brownson sailed to Bath, Maine, and was placed in reduced operational status. In October 1946, Brownson recommenced active duty and took part in Operation Highjump. This operation set up a research base in the Antarctic.

Following operations out of Newport, Rhode Island, Brownson joined the 2nd Fleet for exercises in the Caribbean and joined the 6th Fleet for maneuvers in the Mediterranean. After returning to her home port of Newport in June 1948, Brownson performed reserve cruises for one year.

By March 1950, Brownson had undergone an extensive modernization at the Boston Naval Shipyard. After refresher training, she made one midshipman cruise in the Caribbean and then resumed fleet exercises out of Newport. Brownson collided with USS Charles H. Roan (DD-853) off Bermuda necessitating her return to Boston for repairs and additional modernization.

After 8 months in Mediterranean waters with the 6th Fleet, Brownson operated out of Newport until August 1952, at which time she sailed to the North Atlantic with the 2nd Fleet. There, she took part in NATO’s Operation Mainbrace during the Cold War. In October 1952, she steamed to the Mediterranean and rejoined the 6th Fleet. After returning to Newport, Brownson operated off the east coast and in the Caribbean up until August 1954. During this period Brownson participated in a midshipman cruise and assisted in Operation Springboard. During the final six months of 1954, Brownson patrolled Japanese, Philippine, and Korean waters with the 7th Fleet. In 1959 thru 1960, Brownson received the FRAM II modifications and antisubmarine apparatus.

Brownson completed refresher training at Guantanamo, Cuba, during the winter of 1968-1969. Following this, she sailed north of Egypt where she joined the 6th Fleet and participated in NATO fleet exercises.

Brownson was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 September 1976, and sold for scrap in June 1977.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Brownson (DD-868)

Nearly every section of Brownson had contamination from material containing asbestos. Some ship compartments deployed asbestos more widely than others. The engineering and power areas on Brownson contained extensive amounts of asbestos-containing materials to insulate pipes, cover steam boilers, and to sheathe elements of the ship's motors or turbines.

Ships with long service histories such as Brownson saw considerable degradation of their asbestos insulation over time. Asbestos that is worn or damaged can become brittle and, when disturbed, release tiny fibers into the air. The inhalation of asbestos fibers has been linked to the development of mesothelioma in thousands of U.S. Navy veterans.



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