The USS Charles S. Sperry (DD-697) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades during the middle of the 20th century. She was named for Charles Stillman Sperry, a U.S. Navy officer around the turn of the 20th century. Charles S. Sperry was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer.
Charles S. Sperry was laid down in Kearny, New Jersey by Federal Shipbuilding in October 1943. She was launched in March 1944 and commissioned in May 1944, with Commander H.H. McIlhenny at the helm. Charles S. Sperry carried a crew of 336 and had a cruising speed of 36.5 knots. She was armed with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Charles S. Sperry began her service in the Pacific, sailing for Ulithi in December 1944. In the following weeks, she and her fleet supported strikes at Formosa and Luzon as part of the broader Lingayen Gulf operation. In February and March 1945, she supported the invasion of Iwo Jima and the operation at Okinawa.
June and July 1945 found Charles S. Sperry at San Pedro Bay, providing support for the final strikes against Japan. Following the end of the war, the ship remained in the region for various exercises and patrols until December.
After several years in U.S. waters as a training vessel, Charles S. Sperry was deployed to assist in the Korean War in 1950. There, she fired on Songjin, swept for mines, and screened shipping. In December, she was struck by three shells fired from the shore. There were no casualties, and the damage was quickly repaired. In January 1951, Charles S. Sperry was part of the blockage of Wonsan, where she provided fire and covered landings. After another stint at Songjin, she sailed for the U.S. in July.
Upon her return to the U.S. , Charles S. Sperry was assigned to the Atlantic. For the following decade, she cruised the Mediterranean and was on hand during the Suez crisis to transport American citizens to safety.
Charles S. Sperry was upgraded in 1960, but never again saw action. She was decommissioned in 1973 and later transferred to Chile, where she was renamed Ministro Zenteno. She was eventually scrapped in 1990.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Charles S. Sperry (DD-697)
On the USS Charles S. Sperry, like on many navy ships, asbestos-containing material was used in many areas, both in equipment and on steam pipes. Asbestos insulation was installed in larger amounts in certain sections of naval vessels; the engine and boiler sections aboard Charles S. Sperry deployed asbestos extensively as insulation for steam pipes, to line ship's boilers, and to protect components of the ship's motors and power plant. Asbestos was also widely used in cements, glues, paint, sealants and valves.
When damaged or worn, asbestos insulation may become friable and individual fibers can enter the air where it can be inhaled into the lungs or ingested by mouth. The incidence of malignant mesothelioma is strongly correlated to the quantity and duration of asbestos exposure.
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Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-697.