The USS Charrette (DD-581) served in the U.S. Navy for about half a decade in the early 20th century, and was later transferred to Greece. She was named for Lieutenant George Charrette, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in the Spanish-American War. Charrette was laid down as a Fletcher-class destroyer.
Charrette was laid down by the Boston Navy Yard in February 1942, launched in June, and commissioned in May 1943 with Commander E.S. Karpe in command. 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, Charrette supported a total crew complement of 273.
Charrette arrived at Pearl Harbor in October 1943 and began her engagement with the enemy at the Marshall Islands in November. During this deployment, Charrette covered aircraft carriers during raids on Makin and Tarawa, and protected shipping and Marines onshore. Additional assaults included the bombardment of Nauru Island in December, and the assault on Cape Gloucester. Charrette also screened carriers during the strikes on Kwajalein and Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands in January and February 1944, where she utilized radar equipment to help USS Fair sink Japanese submarine I-21.
Following overhaul at Pearl Harbor, Charrette served as a screen during attacks on Japanese ships at Palaus, and participated in the invasion of New Guinea in April. Charrette was then deployed to the Marianas Islands in June, where she protected aircraft carriers during the Guam, Saipan, and Rota operations, and then continued screening, anti-aircraft, and plane guard duties during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June. Later in the month, Charrette returned to the Marianas to protect invasion forces.
Charrette participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf as well as the Battle off Cape Engano in October. She also protected the troop landings at Lingayen in January 1945, before sailing to Puget Sound Navy Yard for overhaul in February. Charrette returned to duty at Borneo in June, and then was assigned to patrol duty in the Netherlands East Indies. In September, she served as an escort for ships with occupation troops, and was placed in reserve at San Diego in March 1946. Charrette was decommissioned in January 1947 and transferred to Greece, as Velos, in June 1959. Stricken in 1991, the destroyer was preserved as a museum near Athens.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Charrette (DD-581)
Asbestos-containing material has been employed aboard naval vessels like the USS Charrette since the early 1930s. Naval vessels use many pieces of equipment that generate high levels of thermal energy, such as boilers and engines. The engineering and boiler sections aboard Charrette employed asbestos-containing materials widely as insulation for steam pipes, to line ship's boilers, and to cover components of the ship's motors and turbines.
The extensive use of asbestos materials on the ship meant that many who served on her were at risk of suffering from asbestos exposure. Some sailors held occupations with higher exposure risks like boilermen, boiler tenders and those who worked in the pump room. Asbestos insulation that becomes worn or damaged may become friable. This means that discrete fibers of asbestos in the insulation come loose and may be breathed into the lungs or swallowed. Breathing and/or swallowing asbestos fibers is strongly linked to the development of mesothelioma. Since being exposed to asbestos is the main cause of malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis, there are legal options for naval personnel and civilian workers who have contracted these types of asbestos-related conditions.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-581.
NavSource Naval History. USS Charrette (DD-581).