The USS Charles F. Hughes (DD-428) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades in the middle of the 20th century. She was named for Admiral Charles Frederick Hughes who served in the Spanish-American War and World War I. Charles F. Hughes was a Benson-class destroyer.
Charles F. Hughes was laid down by the Puget Sound Navy Yard in January 1938, launched in May 1940, and commissioned in September with Lieutenant Commander G.L. Menocal in command. Carrying a crew of 208, Charles F. Hughes was 348 feet, four inches long and armed with four five-inch anti-aircraft guns, six one-half inch machine guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Charles F. Hughes trained in the Caribbean and served as a convoy escort in the western Atlantic beginning in September 1941. During this deployment, Charles F. Hughes rescued survivors of sunken merchant vessels, including those of a Norwegian freighter in July 1941, and those from a drifting lifeboat in October.
Charles F. Hughes continued escorting convoys when the United States entered World War II, and sailed to Northern Ireland with a convoy in May 1942. She was assigned to trans-Atlantic convoy duty in August 1942, and then escorted the first reinforcement convoy for the troop landings at Casablanca in November. After patrolling there for a month, Charles F. Hughes embarked on convoy voyages from Bristol Channel to the Netherlands West Indies, enduring constant German submarine attacks along the way.
In November and December 1943, Charles F. Hughes escorted a convoy from Casablanca to New York, and departed from Norfolk, Virginia in January 1944 to the Mediterranean, where she joined the 8th Fleet. She served as an escort during the troop buildup at Anzio, and then provided screening, shore bombardment, and patrol duties there.
Charles F. Hughes resumed anti-submarine and escort service in the Mediterranean in July 1944, and in August, protected the eastern flank of shipping prior to the invasion of southern France. During this deployment, Charles F. Hughes caused two German E-boats to beach and one to sink. Charles F. Hughes then resumed patrol and escort duty in the western Mediterranean, returned to the United States in January 1945, and escorted convoys between Ulithi to Okinawa. She was decommissioned at Charleston, South Carolina in March 1946, and then sunk off Virginia in March 1969.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Charles F. Hughes (DD-428)
Asbestos has been used in the construction of naval vessels such as Charles F. Hughes since the 1930s. Naval vessels contain large types of machinery that generate high amounts of heat, such as boilers and pumps. The engine and power rooms aboard Charles F. Hughes deployed asbestos containing materials extensively to insulate steam pipes, to cover steam boilers, and to protect elements of the ship's engines and turbines. Asbestos material that is cut or sawed while installing or performing repairs on this equipment can result in the tiny fibrous material entering the air. Those in the vicinity are at risk to then breathe it in. Asbestos exposure in this way has led to a high incidence of mesothelioma cases among veterans.
Most personnel stationed or doing repairs on Charles F. Hughes were likely exposed to asbestos fibers to some extent. Certain jobs had a higher degree of asbestos contamination, however, like boiler tenders or engine mechanics.
If you were stationed on the USS Charles F. Hughes and have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease like mesothelioma please fill out the form on this page to receive more information about treatment options and legal help.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-428.