The USS Bullard (DD-660) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Rear Admiral William Hannum Grubb Bullard who was a radio communications specialist in the U.S. Navy and served in World War I. Bullard was laid down as a Fletcher-class destroyer.
Bullard was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corporation in October 1942, launched in February 1943, and commissioned in April with Commander G. R. Hartwig in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Bullard was armed with four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, and four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns. She was 376 feet, five inches in length and had a displacement of 2,924 tons.
Bullard was in service briefly along the east coast and in the Caribbean Sea before being assigned to duty in the Pacific. The destroyer arrived at Pearl Harbor in August 1943 and specialized in fire support, plane guard duty, patrols, and radar picket duty in several key wartime operations in the South Pacific. Bullard served during the Wake Island raid in October, strikes at Rabaul in November, as well as the Tarawa invasion in November and December. From January to March 1944, Bullard operated during the occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, and joined the fleet for the troop landings at the Admiralty Islands in March and April.
Bullard was also present for the invasion of Hollandia, New Guinea in April and May, the capture of Saipan and Guam in June and August, and the invasion of Okinawa from March to May 1945. During the assault on Okinawa, Bullard was damaged by a kamikaze plane and was repaired in the area before sailing to Leyte in May, and then joined the raids on Japan in July and August with the 3rd Fleet.
Bullard participated in occupation duty following Japan’s surrender, and remained on duty until November 1945. In service along the west coast during much of 1946, Bullard was decommissioned and placed in reserve at San Diego in December. She was struck from the Navy list in December 1972 and was sold for scrap in December 1973.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Bullard (DD-660)
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the mineral asbestos has been employed in industrial and factory sites, and asbestos insulation has been used in the design of both merchant and naval craft such as Bullard. Warships use a number of components that generate large amounts of heat, such as turbines and boilers. The engine and power sections on Bullard installed asbestos-containing materials extensively to insulate pipes, to protect boilers, and to fireproof elements of the ship's engines and turbines.
Most crewmen sailing or doing repairs on Bullard were likely exposed to asbestos fibers to some extent. Certain jobs had a higher degree of asbestos exposure threat, however. Crew members working in the engine room, on heavy machinery, putting out fires, or in damage control parties were more likely to be exposed to asbestos. Asbestos insulation which becomes disturbed can enter the air. Those in the area may then breathe it in or swallow it. This type of asbestos exposure has been linked to the diagnosis of an asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma in many U.S. veterans.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-660. http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd660txt.htm
NavSource Naval History. USS Bullard (DD-660).