The USS Bush (DD-529) served in the U.S. Navy for a few short years before being sunk by Japanese kamikaze aircraft. She was named for Lieutenant William Sharp Bush, a Marine who served in the War of 1812 and lost his life aboard USS Constitution. Bush was a Fletcher-class destroyer.
Bush was laid down at San Francisco, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in February 1942, launched in October, and commissioned in May 1943 with Commander W.F. Peterson in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Bush was 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. She was driven by Westinghouse turbines, supporting a cruising speed of 38 knots, and had a range of 6,500 nautical miles at 15 knots.
Bush began her service off Alaska as a patrol and escort vessel, and then reported to Pearl Harbor in December 1943. From December 1943 to March 1944, Bush participated in operations at the Bismark Archipelago. During this deployment, she served during the Cape Gloucester, New Britain and Admiralty Islands troop landings. Bush also operated during the Leyte landings in October, and downed two Japanese planes during an attack in November. Debris from the aircraft hit the destroyer and wounded two men. From December 1944 to January 1945 Bush served during troop landings at Mindoro and Lingayen Gulf.
Bush was assigned to duty during operations at Iwo Jima in February and March 1945, and served as a radar picket ship off Okinawa in April. She was struck by the first of three kamikaze planes on April 6, 1945. Since it was not believed that the danger level was exceedingly high, help was requested. When USS Calhoun was on the way to assist Bush, that vessel was struck by enemy aircraft and sank. Bush endured ammunition explosions and a heavy ocean swell, and was then abandoned by 227 survivors as she split in half and sank, while 87 crew members were lost. Bush earned seven battle stars during World War II.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Bush (DD-529)
Most crewmen serving or working on Bush were likely exposed to asbestos to some extent. Inhalation or swallowing of asbestos is strongly linked to the development of malignant mesothelioma. Asbestos insulation damaged in combat was especially dangerous as the material would break into tiny particles upon impact and enter the air. Those in the vicinity would then breathe the asbestos dust in. Drydock and shipyard service members were also exposed to asbestos in their work.
Some positions risked a higher level of asbestos contamination. Specifically, damage-control parties, engineering crew, and personnel dealing with fires were more likely to inhale or ingest asbestos-containing materials. The engine and power sections on Bush contained large amounts of asbestos serving as insulation for steam pipes, to cover ship's boilers, and to insulate components of the ship's motors and power plant. Steam pipes wrapped with asbestos-containing insulation were part of basically every section of the ship.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-529.
NavSource Naval History, USS Bush (DD-529).