The USS Caldwell (DD-69) was the lead ship of the Caldwell class of destroyers, with the other five ships in its class being the USS Craven (DD-70), the USS Gwin (DD-71), the USS Conner (DD-72), the USS Stockton (DD-73) and the USS Manley (DD-74). The USS Caldwell (DD-69) was the first Navy ship to be named in honor of Lieutenant James R. Caldwell.
Built in 1917, Caldwell (DD-69) was sponsored by Miss C. Caldwell, was launched on July 10, 1917 near Mare Island Navy Yard. She was commissioned on December 1, 1917, under the command of Lieutenant Commander B. McCandless. As with all of the ships in her class, the USS Caldwell (DD-69) served in the United States Navy during the last portion of World War I.
The USS Caldwell (DD-69) was flush-decked in order to remove the fo’c’sle break weakness that was found in the preceding class. The design of the forward sheer was also improved in order to prevent the “A” mount from being washed out. The ship also featured wing mounts and beam torpedo tubes, both of which were later determined to be design flaws. This same flaw continued with the next two classes, the Wickes-class and the Clemson-class.
After being ordered into duty, the USS Caldwell (DD-69) joined the Atlantic Fleet. She arrived at Norfolk, Virginia on January 8, 1918 and Queenstown, Ireland on March 5 of that same year. She was then assigned to patrol as well as to convoy escort duty, though this service was interrupted when she aided in experimental work that involved utilizing underwater listening devices in an effort to intercept communication among German submarines.
When World War I came to an end, the USS Caldwell (DD-69) was called upon to provide transport of troops to Brest, France. While there, she assisted with escorting the George Washington as it took President Woodrow Wilson into the harbor. The USS Caldwell (DD-69) then returned home to Virginia. Here, she resumed operation with the Norfolk Division, the Destroyer Force, the Atlantic Fleet and Destroyer Squadron 3 along the east coast.
The USS Caldwell (DD-69) was placed in reserve of August of 1920, though she did continue to operate with a reduced complement out of Newport, Rhode Island and Charleston, South Carolina. On June 27, 1922, she was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and was ultimately sold on June 30, 1936.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Caldwell (DD-69)
The USS Caldwell used asbestos insulation and fireproofing throughout, particularly in and around her engines, boilers, and power stations. When an asbestos-based product is damaged or worn it becomes friable, meaning that individual asbestos fibers can break off and escape into the surrounding air. The harm done by asbestos happens when these very small fibers are inhaled or ingested; they infiltrate the lungs and mesothelium and sometimes other organs, causing development of scar tissue and possibly mesothelioma. The abundance of asbestos used in Caldwell class destroyers put anyone who served aboard or serviced such a vessel at risk for exposure to this dangerous mineral.
If you or a family member was affected by mesothelioma after serving in the Navy, you should know that there are legal remedies available to you. Finding a qualified mesothelioma attorney can aid you in deciding your best course of action. We have published a mesothelioma information packet with information on legal options and treatment choices, as well as a list of mesothelioma trials in the United States. Just complete the form on this page and we'll mail you a free kit.Sources
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